Jesus – Worth Dying For
JESUS-WORTH DYING FOR
Here in the first 8 verse of Matthew 17 you find the story of what we call the “Transfiguration.”
- And in this story Matthew encourages us and reassures us that our full devotion to Jesus is not misplaced.
- And, at the same time, he tries once again to get others to see that Jesus is “worth dying for.”
Let me show you what I mean. Let’s begin by going back a few verses to chapter 16 and verse 24.
- In verse 24 Jesus tells his disciples that they must “deny themselves, take up their
cross, and follow Him.”
Now that was not an easy teaching for them to accept. .
- “Denying yourself and taking up your cross and following Him” was easier said than
- You see, this book was written in an effort to convince some people to “follow after Christ” but the problem was, any one who did follow after Christ was facing the possibility of enduring a terrible persecution at the hands of the Jewish religious leaders as well as the Romans.
- Nero was the Emperor at the time and under his rule Christians were being burned alive… crucified… and thrown to beasts…
- Their possessions were being taken from them… and fathers and mothers and children were
being torn apart from each other.
- And the question that these people that Matthew is writing to have to answer is: ‘Is Jesus Christ worth it?”
- “Is Jesus worth the suffering. …is Jesus worth dying for…is Jesus worth following?”
And that is the same question that we are faced with today.
- I know that the threat of death for following Jesus isn’t something that we are faced with
- We aren’t facing the same threats that these brethren and these disciples were facing.
But still, we are facing some personal sacrifices… some giving up of our lifestyles…
- Some leaving behind some old habits… some changing our thinking and our ways of doing
things… in order to “follow Jesus.”
- “And the question is, “Is He worth it? Is Jesus worth sacrificing for? Even dying for? “
Now we know He is worth a little time every week.
- He is worth at least two or three hours every Sunday.
- But is He worth dying for? Giving your whole life for?
Well, Matthew is going to answer that for us here in chapter 17.
- Matthew is going to give us three confirmations here in the “transfiguration” that tells us that
Jesus is definitely worth following…obeying… changing our life for… sacrificing for…even
- Let’s begin in verse 1.
In verse 1, Jesus takes Peter, James and John up on a high mountain by themselves.
- And verse 2 says that Jesus was “transfigured” before them.
- That is the Greek word “meta-mor-pho-thay”.
- We get our word “Metamorphosis” from this word.
- “Metamorphosis” means “a change… a transformation.“
- “Metamorphosis” is what the change is called when a caterpillar goes into a cocoon and
then comes out a butterfly.
- That caterpillar is changed…he is transformed… he goes through metamorphosis.
Here in verse 2, Jesus is “changed… He is transformed… He goes through “metamorphosis” and look at the change that takes place. The verse says:
“And His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.”
Now let’s stop for a moment and read these words again.
“And He was transfigured before them and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.”
These words are so easy to read and we just pass by them with out thinking about what is happening here.
- Maybe we have seen too many special effects on TV and so this doesn’t really catch our
- But let me tell you, special effects on TV and in movies are often computer generated and are nothing more than shrewd deceptions.
What happened here was not computer generated…it was not a shrewd deception.
- This was not special effects…because special effects give the appearance of something that is actually not real.
What Matthew is describing here is something that actually took place!
- It was so amazing that it is beyond our comprehension.
- And if you look at verse 6 what happens here causes the disciples to be “afraid.”.
Jesus was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.
There is only one other time when anything like this ever happened in scripture.
- That was in the Old Testament, in Exodus 34, when Moses went up on the mountain and he
spent time with God.
- And when he came down “his face shone because he had been speaking with God.“
- His face reflected the glory of God…and the people were afraid to come near him.
But this is different.
- This isn’t just Jesus’ face…this is His whole being.
And this radiance isn’t a reflection of God.
- This radiance is coming from Jesus.
- It is radiating from Him.
- Only God shines like this!
- And what you have here is, Jesus’ true essence…His true “being” is being revealed.
- Here for just a short time, Jesus reassumes the divine glory that he had before the world
Look with me at John 17 and look at verse 4.
- Here, Jesus is praying just a few hours before He is to die… and look at what He says.
“I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do. “And now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.
When Jesus became a man, what He had to do in order to relate to us, He had to put aside his brilliance.
- The Hebrew writer in chapter 2 and verse 9 says that “He was made a little lower than the
- And Paul says in Philippians 2: 6-7 says that “He did not regard equality with God a
thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking on the form of a bond servant.
- When Jesus became a man, in order to relate to us, He put aside His glory…His brilliance.
But now here in this prayer Jesus is asking God to “restore that glory back to Him…the glory that He had before the world.”
And it is interesting that the only two post ascension appearances of Jesus in the Bible show him that way.
- Remember Acts 9, Paul is on his way to Damascus and he meets with Jesus and remember
what the writer says he saw?
- He saw a light from heaven.
- Remember Revelation 1, when John on the Isle of Patmos had a vision of Jesus and who does
- Does He see a pale meek little Galilean carpenter?
- No. He has a vision of a King and Priest whose hair is white as snow.
- Whose eyes blaze like fire and whose feet shine like brass.
- And it says that his face “was shining like the sun in its strength.”
That is the real Jesus!
- That is who He is.
- In those two instances He has received back from God the glory that He had from the
beginning of the world.
And the point I am trying to make is when Jesus was on that mountain, what He did was, for a moment strip away the exterior, the humanity in which he was encased and Peter and James and John saw for just a glimpse the real essence…the real majesty that was His from eternity.
Jesus did not change His nature on top of the mountain.
- He changed His nature down at the manger.
- That is where the real change took place.
- Up on the mountain they saw Him for who He really was.
And that is important because it shows that Jesus could step across the boundary of time from earth into glory any time He chose.
- That means Jesus did not have to die to taste glory.
- He had to die so that you could.
And so when we ask ourselves “Is Jesus worth dying for?”
- This brief glimpse of His glory…of His majesty should tell us that the answer is “Yes.”
- Because actually what we are seeing is a glimpse of God Himself.
But now go back to Matthew 17 and look at verse 3. In verse 3 we see two others. Elijah and Moses who are talking with Jesus.
Why were Moses and Elijah there?
There are several ideas but let me tell you what Moses’ and Elijah’s presence here is probably really about.
- What was significant about Moses?
- Well, Moses gave the Law to the people…so Moses represents the Law.
- And what was significant about Elijah?
- Elijah was a prophet…so Elijah represents the prophets.
So what you have here is a confirmation, not only by Moses and Elijah that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God… and worthy of us following.
- But, since Moses represents the Law… and Elijah represents the prophets…you also have a confirmation by the Law and all the prophets that Jesus is worthy of us
But there is more.
- If you go over to Luke’s account you find that Moses and Elijah are talking with Jesus about
Jesus’ “departure that he was about to accomplish in Jerusalem.”
- They were talking about the cross.
So what you have here is Moses…representing the Law with all of its sacrifices….the Day of Atonement…the Burnt Offering sacrifices…the Sin sacrifices…the Peace offering….the Law and all of its sacrifices confirming that Jesus is not only the Messiah…but that He must also go to the cross.
- And you have Elijah representing the prophets and all of their prophesies that foretold not only
the coming of the Messiah, but that He must die…
- And all of them together are telling us that Jesus is worthy of our following… and even
Everything recorded here, in the OT…all the Law…the sacrifices…the prophets…their prophesies… all point to and confirm…and tell us that Jesus is the Messiah…and that He must die on the cross… and it all says… He is worth following!
But you know, some of us are still not sure! We are still not sure that He is worth our “denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Him.”
- We are just like Peter. Look at verse 4.
- Peter speaks to Jesus and He says:
“And Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.
Notice what Peter calls Jesus.
- “Lord?” This is the Greek word “kurios”, a word that was, at the time, commonlyl used to show respect; much like we might use the word “Sir.”
- Peter didn’t call Him “God… or Messiah” but “Lord.”
And not only that; the fact that He wants to build three tabernacles, one for each, indicates that in His mind, Jesus is on the same level as Moses and Elijah!
- You see, Peter is still not sure!
And some of us are still not sure about Jesus either.
- In spite of the glimpse of His glory…His real nature…His Godhood.
- In spite of every thing the Law and the prophets have told us about His Messiah-ship.
- We are still not sure that He is worthy of us “denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and
How do we know?
- The same way we know that about Peter…our response to Him!
- The way we live our lives.
- The way we are hit and miss in our worship attendance.
- The way we are hit and miss in our prayer lives…our Bible study.
- The way we are hot and cold in our Christian walk.
- The fact that we refuse to “die to ourselves at baptism.”
- That’s how we know.
So guess what?
- Matthew is going to give us one more confirmation that Jesus is “worthy of us denying
ourselves, taking up our cross and following Him.”
- And really, it is not Matthew at all who gives the confirmation.
Look at verse 5:
“While he was still speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them…”
- Now there is no doubt who is in this cloud.
- Go sometime and read through the scriptures the number of times that God came in a
“While he was still speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”
Here Peter is, he is still not sure.
- He feels compelled to say something… and so he does; “Let me build 3 tabernacles.”
- But he says the wrong thing.
- And his words reflect that he still doesn’t understand about Jesus.
And so a cloud forms over head.. .and God says, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him.”
- How much plainer can He be?
- It is almost as though God is saying, “Peter, is this that hard for you? Quit refusing to accept who Jesus is…He is my Son…listen to Him.”
Is Jesus worthy of us following?
- Is He worthy of giving up a lifestyle of pleasure… comfort… sin?
- Is He worthy of dying for? God says so.
And you know, Peter learned that. Go to 2 Peter 1:12.
- Peter has just talked to these brethren about “making certain of their calling” by putting on godly qualities.
- And speaking of those qualities and the promises involved look at what Peter says starting in verse 12: Therefore, I shall always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. 13 And I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you may be able to call these things to mind.
Now folks, two times here Peter has mentioned His departure or His dying.
- You see, it won’t be long until Peter dies because of His faith in Christ.
- Peter believed that Jesus was worth dying for!
What convinced Him of that? Look at verse 16-18: For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”– 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
The events of the Transfiguration convinced Peter that Jesus was worth dying for.
- A glimpse of His true glory… a view of Moses and Elijah… and the words of
God…convinced Peter that Jesus was worthy of dying for.
What about you? Everything that convinced Peter is right here. Will you die for Jesus too? What more will it take?
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023