Joseph Prince - Hear Jesus Only And Be Uplifted
Matthew 17, look up here. This is my message. "Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves. He was transfigured. His face shone, and behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with him". Don't forget: Peter, James, and John, they are also there, but they are sleeping. Next verse, "Peter answered". Peter woke up. All three woke up, all right? We find they were sleeping in another gospel account of the transfiguration. They woke up. "People answered", no one asked him, "and he said to Jesus, 'Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, let us make here three tabernacles'".
Now, don't think of a building. There's no time to make a building. It was probably during the Feast of Tabernacles. During the Feast of Tabernacles, even now, the Jewish people, towards the end of the year, about September, October, they have a Feast of Tabernacles. In fact, it's the most joyous and celebratory of all the seven feasts, and during this Feast of Tabernacles, they will build sukkah. Sukkah means temporary shelter made of willows, made of all kinds of plants, and they will stay outside their house to commemorate that they were people wandering in the wilderness, living in temporary shelters.
You see, the thing is this: He's putting Jesus on the same level as the lawgiver and the law restorer. You cannot do that. There are many, many believers today who put grace on the same level as the law and the law restorer. Some of them feel that they are law restorers, they are fighting for the law to be restored, and guess what? God the Father will not allow that. The Father spoke. Next verse, "While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, 'This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Hear him,'" singular. Not "Hear them".
Moses was there. Elijah was there. Don't they have anything to say? No, their day is over. The law has served its purpose, to bring man to the end of himself. The prophet has brought men to God. He served his purpose. It's the day of grace. It's the day for the Son of God. No more the servants of God, but the Son of God. Are you listening, people? Who choose to be a servant. But just because the Son choose to be a servant, don't you forget, he's the Son of God. Can I have a good amen, church? So here we have a bright cloud. See the word "bright cloud"? It's the Shekinah glory. The same one that dwell in the holy of holies in the temple, now it overshadowed them.
Now, this is amazing because when the law, the Ten Commandments, was given on another mountain, the Bible says there was a dark cloud. Where Jesus is, there's a bright cloud, one cloud to condemn, another cloud to reveal his righteousness. You see, I love, you know, there's a counterpart of this, being flanked by Moses and Elijah. It is found in Romans 3. Look at Romans 3: "Therefore by the deeds of the law," Moses, "no flesh will be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin".
People who advocate bringing back the law, they don't realize, by the law is not the knowledge of holiness. I repeat, by the law is not the knowledge of holiness but the knowledge of sin. It is not the knowledge of God. "But now"... Say now. You want to live now or you live in the past? You want the latest revelation from God? The latest revelation from God is grace. The latest revelation came through the Son. There's no other revelation. And God says, "Now the righteousness of God," which is a gift, "apart from the law, apart from the law is not"... God gave you the gift of righteousness, but you must still keep the law. It's apart from the law. Righteousness today is a gift. And you know how it came? You know how it came? This gift was witnessed, being witnessed by the law and the prophets. Wow, even the law says amen to the gift of righteousness. Even the prophets say amen.
So, in other words, the law here is Moses, and the prophets Elijah. They both witnessed grace, is what you must listen to today. The Son of God is who you must listen to today. Are you with me? And the Bible says (go back to Matthew 17), "When the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces, and were greatly afraid". Next verse, "But Jesus came and touched them and said, 'Arise, and do not be afraid.' When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one". Moses is gone. No one. Elijah was gone. "They saw no one but Jesus only". May this be the theme of our church and our ministry, "To see no one but Jesus only". No matter how illustrious Elijah may be, no matter how great Moses may be, saw no one but Jesus only.
Now, the Father just said, "Hear him". They were all afraid. They were all face down. The Bible says, "Jesus came and touched them". This is the first time Jesus spoke, right? After the Father says, "Listen to Jesus". You wonder what he will say if you're the disciple down there, all right? Now you read. You know what he said, but imagine you are trembling, and the Father says, "Listen to Jesus". "Oh, what would he say? What would he say"? Then he came. No, he touched them, personal touch, warmth, and he says, "Arise, and don't be afraid". It is not a commandment. It's not a law like the Ten Commandments. It's grace. This is what the world rejected, that Peter, James, and John saw.
At the end of this... this is Matthew what? What chapter is this? I'm bringing this to a close. Matthew what? Seventeen. In Luke's account, the Mount of Transfiguration appears in Luke 9, all right? Mark, the transfiguration appears in Mark 9. So Matthew, Mark, and Luke, all three has the Mount of Transfiguration, and they all have meanings in the chapter. They all end, except for Mark. Mark has another revelation I will share another day because of time. I'll just share Matthew and Luke, how it ends, okay? These two chapters on the Mount of Transfiguration in Matthew and Luke, look at how it ends.
Look at Matthew 17. This is how it ends. It ends like this: "When they had come to Capernaum," Kapernaoum, "those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, 'Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?'" So they did not come to Jesus. They come to Peter. "Does not your Teacher pay the temple tax"? By the way, just to let you know, in the law, in the law of Moses, there's a temple tax. It's called the atonement money. And in those days each person rich or poor, must pay the same amount, which I see a picture of the blood of Jesus. Whether you are rich, whether you are poor, it's the same blood of Jesus that saves you. Watch this. The temple tax people came and asked Peter, they did not ask Jesus, "Does your Master not pay temple tax"?
What's Peter's answer? Peter said yes. Very fast yes. He said yes too fast. "And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, 'What do you think, Simon?'" Jesus stopped Simon. He was about to collect the money. Jesus stopped him, said, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their own sons or from strangers"? When a king conquers a country, who does he take taxes from? From his own sons or from strangers? So Jesus is asking Peter the question. Why is he asking Peter this question? It's about the temple tax. 'Cause Peter say what? Yes too fast. The temple tax is for the maintenance of the temple. The temple was built for God. His Son is here. His Son does not pay temple tax. He's greater than the temple.
"'From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers? Peter answered, 'From strangers.' Jesus said, 'Then the sons are free.'" Do you hear that? Means what? He didn't have to pay. And he says sons for all, because you and I will become sons of God. Are you listening? Amen, the tithe is not the temple tax here, so don't think about the tithe. The tithe is an expression of faith, Abraham and Melchizedek, which is another revelation altogether. This is temple tax. Jesus says, "Then the sons are free". Are you listening? That means what? He's the Son.
You see, unbeknownst to him, or I should say, unconsciously, Peter lowered Jesus, just like did in the Mount of Transfiguration, albeit his motive is right. He was doing it for the honor of Jesus. He didn't want people to think that Jesus didn't pay taxes, but he was looking at Jesus as a man. He didn't know, in being zealous for Jesus's glory, he actually lowered him. Who was he listening to? He forgot the lesson. This is the same chapter in Matthew 17. Same chapter of the Mount of Transfiguration. How soon is the lesson forgotten? He's still thinking of Moses and what Moses says about the temple tax. He's not even asking the Son. The Father just told him, "This is my beloved Son in whom I'm well pleased. Hear him," and here before the chapter ends, Peter again listens to Moses.
Now, in case we are too hard on Peter, how many of us find it very hard to look at grace and follow grace completely? We still have the law we listen to. But the law says, but the law says. The law was given by a servant. Grace came through the Son. The servant does not abide in the house forever. The Son does. Was Jesus offended? He was very patient with Peter. Look at what Jesus says, "Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first".
You know how supernatural this is or no? And not only many fish, you know, you try, try, try, until you find one. The first fish. "Bring up the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money". That money in the Greek is a stater, which is half shekel, half shekel, drachma, drachma. "Take that and give it to them for me and you". "And you". He even paid Peter's temple tax. So, first he said that he is the Son of the Father. Does the Son of the Father pay the temple tax? No. Then he says, "You know what? Lest we offend them, Peter, go. Go to the sea. Throw a hook. Bring up the first fish. In the mouth, there's a coin".
You see, Peter forgot. But you know something? In Luke 9... we don't have time to see everything, but in Luke 9, it's Luke's account of the Mount of Transfiguration. It goes on towards the end. It's James and John. You remember how many were there? Peter, James, and John. So Peter didn't learn his lesson, all right? And Jesus was very patient with Peter, amen, even bless him, paid for his temple tax. Isn't our Lord wonderful? Look up here. Look up here. Jesus went to Samaria. If you read the same account of the Mount of Transfiguration in the same portion towards the end, towards the latter part of the chapter, you'll find Jesus walking into Samaria, and the Bible says his face was set as if he's going to Jerusalem. He's going to Jerusalem to die.
Now, the Samaritans don't like people who think that Jerusalem is greater than Mount Gerizim, so they rejected Jesus. They didn't give him the welcome, all right? They didn't treat him kindly. And who spoke up? James and John. Just now we saw Peter. Now James and John. Same chapter as the Mount of Transfiguration in Luke. James and John says, "Lord, shall we call fire down from heaven and consume them as Elijah did"? So Peter was looking to Moses. James and John, they were looking to Elijah as an example. Jesus turned around and rebuked them, the Bible says. Jesus rebuked them, not the Samaritans, who treated him unkindly. He rebuked his disciples, James and John, and he says, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. The Son of man has not come to destroy men's life but to save them". And he went to another village.
Wow, both chapters of the Mount of Transfiguration, Matthew and Luke, ends, Matthew ends with Peter not learning the lesson, James and John not learning the lesson. One look sat Moses. The other two looks at Elijah. I'll tell you something. Today, my ministry is blessed by God. We are truly favored all over the world, but the voices of opposition is also strong. And let me tell you this: Some of them say nasty things about me, but you won't hear me saying nasty things about them. I've learned the Spirit of the Lord.
You see, in James and John, Jesus says, "You don't know what kind of spirit you are of". They are the spirit of Elijah, which is judgment, but Jesus says, "You are not of the Spirit of grace". In Peter's case, it's a question of what? "You are looking to the law. You're not looking to grace". But mind you, these people that, some of them, they come against you because, if your church is small, they won't come against you. So that group, we put on one side, okay? And then there are people, in other words, there are people who are jealous when actually all we have, we receive from God, amen? They can also receive from God. We are nothing special. But there's another group where they attack you because they think that you are lowering Moses. They think you are forgetting what the law says or what the prophet says.
And they are sincere. They think that we are undermining the glory of the Master just like Peter did. When Peter said yes, do you think Peter was trying to lower Jesus? No, he had good intentions. He wanted the people to think that Jesus pays his taxes. He wanted them to think well of Jesus. In other words, he was motivated by the glory of Jesus, but it's not enough to have the motive right. Many people who are promoting the law, they think that this will glorify the Lord because we'll bring holiness back to the church. They don't realize their intention is right. Their promotion is wrong. What about James and John? Well, James and John slighted because of themselves. Was it that the people, the Samaritans mistreated them? No, again, they saw the Samaritans mistreating Jesus, didn't give him the official welcome. They were zealous for the glory of their Lord.
Again, motive is right. But then the answer is what? Judgment on these people. Jesus says, "You're not a spirit of grace. Yours is a spirit of judgment". So there are people who think, when they promote judgment is coming to Singapore, judgment is coming to America, judgment is coming, these people are sincere about one thing, to glorify the Lord. They believe when they preach like this Jesus is glorified. It's not enough to have both Peter, James and John, all right? They had the right intentions but the wrong promotion. One is a spirit of judgment. Jesus rebuked that. The other one is the law, going back to the law. Jesus rebuked that.
Wow, look up here, people. You know, Moses, you know how Moses failed? By the way, I must tell you this: This is important. You know when Moses and Elijah appear and talk to Jesus? You know what they talk about? You know what they talk about? All right, show them Luke: "Moses and Elijah appeared in glory and spoke of his decease, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem". Notice, "which he was about to accomplish", didn't talk about "death will overtake you," but "You are gonna accomplish your death". That means what? Power over death is described as something he was gonna accomplish.
So the heavenly conversation that night on the mount that shone brighter than the sun was all about his death. You know, in heaven, one day, the grandest subject will be his death, the Lamb slain for us, amen? And they spoke about his decease, his death, but the word decease here literally in the Greek, exodos. He's leaving this world, his exodus. Do you know exodos means deceased or depart? Watch this. Watch this: You know how Moses depart? Not very good, isn't it? He's a grand, wonderful man, and I hate to point a finger, but look at this. Towards the last year of his life, he hit the rock twice in disobedience. He yelled at the people, spoke unadvisedly with his lips, and God says, "You're not going in the Promised Land". He was impatient. That's how his ministry ended. By God's grace, he's up there.
So he ended with impatience, huh? He failed. What about Elijah? You know what's the end of Elijah's life? Elijah's biggest mistake was this: He thought that Jezebel woman was greater than God. He was afraid of her than God. His ministry ended by him saying, "God, I'm the only one left". And God says, "You don't know. There are 7,000. I have 7,000 who have not bowed their knees to Baal". That's how his ministry ended, discouragement.
So one ended in failure, hitting the rock. The other one ended in discouragement, and the mantle went to Elisha. Watch this: There's a prophecy of the Messiah in Isaiah: "Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, my Elect One", talking about Jesus now. Drop down, verse 3, "A bruised reed he will not break", by the way, you will see this quotation in Matthew 12, about Jesus Christ: "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoking flax he will not quench". But look at verse 4: "He will not fail nor be discouraged", Moses failed, "nor be discouraged", Elijah failed.
Where they failed, Jesus succeeded. Where they were discouraged, Jesus wasn't. He went all the way to the cross. He was patient. He didn't hit Peter with his words. He was patient with Peter, even paid his tax, amen, and he wasn't discouraged with the Samaritans' rejection. See, he put all the greatest men, and these are the greatest men in the Old Testament. Put them all together, everyone fades away compared to our Lord Jesus Christ, amen, church?