The Kingdom of God
Reading: Matthew 17:1-13
About this time, for about 2 and a half years, Jesus taught his students and showed his power of faith.
Then Peter and other students understood Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah.
When they understood, Jesus started to tell them about his crucifixion.
Jesus started to tell them that the Christ should suffer and die and rise again as the Bible said.
Also Jesus said many times that the kingdom of God is at hand.
So at this time, Jesus told them that some of his students would see the kingdom of God in its power, before they die.
(2) Then six days later, Jesus took Peter, James and John and led them up a high mountain to show the kingdom of God in its power.
What is like to see the kingdom of God in its power?
What does Jesus want them to see?
(3) On that mountain, Jesus might have said:
“Let there be the kingdom of God in its power!”
Then what happened?
Jesus has changed:
His face shines like the sun.
His clothes is white as the light.
Jesus is shining in the kingdom of God!
Then in the kingdom of God, Moses and Elijah came to Jesus.
Moses and Elijah were talking with Jesus.
Peter and other disciples could see them and hear them.
Moses and Elijah came to say to Jesus about his future suffering in Jerusalem.
Moses and Elijah already knew how important this was.
So they came to talk about the suffering of the Messiah.
But I guess in heaven there were many others who knew about the fact that the Christ should suffer.
So then why did God send Moses and Elijah?
Many prophets are in Heaven:
Enoch, Abraham, Samuel, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah might want to come also to talk with Jesus.
When we read the Bible, David also knew about the suffering of the Messiah.
He knew that Jesus would go through sufferings.
The prophet Isaiah knew about the suffering of the Christ.
He knew how much Jesus would suffer at his cross.
The prophet Zechariah knew about the suffering of the Christ.
So they could come and inform Jesus about his crucifixion at Jerusalem.
But God allowed two persons: Moses and Elijah.
Were Moses and Elijah only available at that time?
Why did God send Moses and Elijah?
So let’s think about Moses and Elijah.
What do we know about them?
Today we have the tombs of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and so on.
But we do not know where the tombs of Moses and Elijah are.
(3) We know that God took Elijah to heaven.
God moved him to other location and let Elijah to live there.
So we do not know where his tomb is.
And his disciple, Elisha carried out his ministry of prophet.
Moses died in Mount Nebo and was buried in a land of Moab.
And we don't know where his tomb is: Deuteronomy 34:5-6, Jude 1:9
In the Bible we read Moses died in Moab and God buried him in Moab.
But no one knows where his grave is.
God didn’t allow people to know.
Moses and Elijah also had their successors.
Their successors represented the future Messiah.
Who were their successors?
Joshua and Elisha.
(3) Even their names have the element of the name of Jesus.
Jesus means “God Saves.” יֵשׁוּעַ
Joshua means “God saves.” יְהוֹשׁ֫וּעַ
Joshua is a longer form of the name Jesus.
Elisha means “my God is salvation.” (אֱלִישַׁע or אֱלִישׁוּעַ)
The ministry of Moses and Elijah were to hand down their ministry to those who represented the coming Messiah.
Joshua and Elisha were like shadows of the future Messiah.
So as you know, Moses led Joshua to the promised land.
And Joshua conquered and established the first Jewish state by God’s power.
Elijah guided Elisha to have the double portion of his anointing.
Then Elisha served as the prophet and healed people like Jesus and worked miracles like Jesus.
Maybe because Moses and Elijah taught Joshua and Elisha who represented the future Messiah, God the Father might have asked them to come and talk with His Son.
So they came to encourage him.
They encouraged Jesus to do the ministry of the Messiah as God said.
Then Jesus decided to obey God.
Jesus decided to obey and experience the suffering and the resurrection.
And Jesus informed his students about his coming suffering and his resurrection.
But there is one more thing to think about.
When Moses and Elijah came to Jesus, shouldn’t they bow down and worship Jesus?
How dare they talk with Jesus, the Son of God in the kingdom of God as if they were his friends?
Then again I see how much Jesus took a lower seat when he became the Son of Man.
As we know, the Son of God also became the Son of Man.
Then he wanted to talk with other prophets.
The Son of God is like that.
God is not authoritative.
God wants to have a conversation with humans whom he created.
In Genesis we read this:
God talked about his future plan with Abraham.
The LORD said: Genesis 18:17
"Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?”
Then God informed Abraham about what God would do.
God discussed his plan with him, because God thought Abraham is his friend.
And our God is very good to his friends.
Then later the prophet Amos said: Amos 3:7
“Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.”
God wants to discuss his plan with his people.
How can we understand this God who created heaven and earth and yet consider us as his friends?
How can we understand God who died for his friends to save them?
Can you understand this God?
Those who understand this God say God is love.
God is relational.
God is not tyrant.
God is our good friend.
God is our gentle friend who is yet almighty and sovereign.
When this God is less known, many people sacrificed animals and even humans thinking that God would bless them and forgive them.
But God’s prophets told them that was not what God wanted.
God might have allowed animal sacrifices temporarily so that people might understand the consequence of their sins and the danger of their sin.
But after a long time, when people didn’t understand God’s intention, God told them:
“I am tired of your animal sacrifice.
Do justice now and help the poor.”
Then God was like:
“I will forgive people in the name of My Messiah.”
Then later God sent his Messiah.
Then God’s Messiah came to show that he was the sacrifice, the Lamb of God.
So this Lamb of God, the Son of God Jesus says to people:
“God forgives you.
God loves you.
God also wants to be loved.
God is happy when you truly love each other.”
Let’s continually read today’s reading:
(3) Looking at Moses and Elijah, Peter said to Jesus:
“Lord, it is good for us to be here.
If you want, I can put up three tents: one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
Peter wanted to build tents so that Moses and Elijah would not leave them.
Peter wanted to stay right here at the kingdom of God.
This was what he wanted.
But God had another plan.
So a bright cloud covered Peter and other students.
Then God the Father said concerning Jesus:
“This is my Son, whom I love.
I am so well pleased with him.
Listen to him!”
God was like:
“Peter, don’t try to do something yet.
First listen to Jesus and understand what he is saying.
Then you may know what to do for God.
And when you finish your works on earth, you will come here and live forever.”
Have you been there?
You want to do something for God.
But God was saying:
Don’t seek to do what you want.
But first understand God and God’s intention.
Seek the kingdom of God where God rules and reigns.
Then you will know what to do.”
In the kingdom of God, God the Father, God the Son and his people talk with each other.
In the Kingdom of God, these disciples heard the voice of God the Father.
Anyway, when his three students heard God’s voice, they fell face down to the ground and terrified.
Jesus came and said:
Don’t be afraid.”
Jesus was like:
“When you enter into the kingdom of God, My Father teaches you like that.
But don’t be afraid.
God spoke because there is hope.
As long as God speaks, there is hope.
God will help us to learn and follow God.”
Then they only saw Jesus.
Then the kingdom of God disappeared.
But in Jesus there is always the kingdom of God for those who understand.
Have you tasted the kingdom of God?
When you enter there, you find that:
God is there.
God’s Son is there.
God’s prophets are there.
And you are there with them.
I heard about a story of someone who experienced the kingdom of God like this:
She was passing through a time of difficulty and unhappiness.
In her dream she was offered a personal interview with the Christ.
“Ah, I will ask Him this.
I will ask Him that.
I will get an answer to my questions and the key to my problems.”
But in the glory of His presence she forgot to ask Him anything.
Her questions seemed utterly unnecessary and meaningless.
She also had an overwhelming feeling that even He would not be able to explain because her mental grasp was so tiny.
But still there came an overwhelming feeling of supreme joy.
Then those questions no longer needed to be answered.
It was sufficient to know there was an answer, even though she could understand yet.
Then she also knew that all was well.
Then she remember that Jesus says: John 16:23
“In that day you shall ask me nothing.”
(3) As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus was like:
“Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until I has been raised from the dead.
Wait until my crucifixion and my resurrection.”
Since they just saw Elijah, the disciples asked him about Elijah:
“Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”
Jewish scholars might have thought that just like Elijah introduced Elisha, Elijah would come first to introduce the real Messiah.
Then Jesus was like:
“To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things.
But Elijah has already come.
But they did not recognize him.
So they have done to him everything they wished.
In the same way I am going to suffer at their hands.”
Jesus was saying:
“John the Baptist was like Elijah who was supposed to come.
But some people treated him badly and killed him as they wished.
They destroyed God’s plan by killing John the Baptist.
Likewise, they will also kill me and reject God’s intention.”
This was the spiritual situation of some people in his days.
They were planning to destroy his life.
They would lie and cheat to kill him.
They would carry out their plan, rejecting God’s open arms.
In order to warn them, Jesus also talked about hell as if their lives were heading to hell, not to the kingdom of God.
Hell is not created for them.
It was created for Satan and his evil spirits.
Talking about hell, Jesus wanted to scare them not to go there.
Living without God is a life of hell.
They need to repent and return to God.
They need to understand and obey God and be happy, because God has a great plan for them.
But fortunately, some would come to God since they already experience a hell in their life.
So as they fear hell and curse, they come to God
They fear the consequence of their sins.
They fear God and yet come to God.
Then God will welcome them with his open heart and open arms.
Jesus wants us to come and experience God.
Jesus welcomes us and changes us to understand how good our God is.
When we really know this God, we really want to be with God in the kingdom of God forever.
Then we will praise God forever.
Jesus wants people to love God and live in the kingdom of God forever.
Jesus prepares our places in the kingdom of God.
May we experience the kingdom of God and enter there in the name of Jesus and live there forever.
Jesus, thank you for who you are.
Thank you for helping us to experience you and understand you.
Help us to choose the right path for our life so that we may live according to your will.
In Jesus name we pray.