Now, listen to Jesus (Matthew 17:1-5)

“Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 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!”

(Matthew 17:1-5) 

The Scripture you just read was from Matthew 17. Every time we listen to a sermon, we first read the Bible, and this Bible is inseparable from our faith life. There are many different incidents and events written in the Bible, some of which took place 4000 years ago, some 3500 years ago, some 3000 years ago, some 2400 years ago and others 2000 years ago. Thus, various events and stories throughout time are written in the Bible. There is a truth we can learn from these, and it is that the words of God – the words written in the Bible – came to fulfilment. They were fulfilled as it was said. Incredibly those words were all fulfilled. If they had not been God’s words, they would not have been fulfilled. However, since God who spoke those words is living, even though the men who had received and written the words down had already died, those words come to fulfilment. It is marvelous.

It’s not as though we claim, “Let’s just say they came true”. What was written about 2000 years ago, was even fulfilled in me as well. And it will be fulfilled in you too. That is the remarkable thing about the Bible. That is why we believe that the words written in the Bible are God’s word. Otherwise, we won’t need to even open the Bible nor come to church and lead a hard faith life of believing in God.

There are many religions in this world, yet to live a faith life at church is a lot harder compared to other religions. Nevertheless, the reason we still come to church to hear God’s word and live a faith life despite the persecution from other people, though there are many things to do and places to go on the Lord’s Day is because every word written in the Bible comes true.

At first, we feel doubtful because we lack certainty. However, as we obediently follow the words recorded in the Bible, we come to experience their fulfillment. If the fulfilment of the word could be achieved solely with our own abilities, we might dismiss it as a mere coincidence or good luck. Yet, the many experiences we encounter as believers in Jesus and through our obedience to the scriptures are far beyond anything we have previously known.

Truth be told, I had never tried to heal the sick before. I used to visit the hospital for my own health. However, at a certain point, I began to heal the sick. This ability is not exclusive to me alone; it is meant for anyone who believes in Jesus. The only difference is that some people may not be able to put it into practice boldly because of their level of faith. Nevertheless, every believer possesses this power.

Perhaps I have a simple faith, but once a paralytic was lying down. The Bible has a story like that. In the Bible Peter encountered a man who was paralyzed and unable to stand; he was a lame man. As Peter held him by the hand and lifted him up, he said, “Gold and silver I do not have but I give you what I do have. In Jesus’ name, get up! Walk!” And miraculously, that lame person began to walk. It’s remarkable, isn’t it? It is easy for people to think, “How on earth is that possible?”

Recently I shared a testimony about something similar in Lord’s Day school. It wasn’t a story from the Bible but my own personal testimony. A little child in the Lord’s Day school responded, “Hey, that’s a lie!” Whether it’s adults or children, some may not believe while others will. So, I said, “The problem is that you haven’t seen it, or because it seems illogical not to believe! It doesn’t make sense that I fulfilled it on my own, but God fulfilled it! Be a person who believes without seeing!” The Bible also records the works done by Jesus’ disciples in the same way.

The Bible also promises that if we believe, we can do the same. Such signs will accompany those who believe. Just 3 months after I came to have faith in Jesus, I went to serve in the army. Because I had listened to the word for the past 3 months, I believed that. So, a 3-month-old believer is a new believer, isn’t it? If I saw anyone sick in the army, I boldly put my hand on him. And the person was healed. I thought it was a matter of course. Hence while I was in the army, I laid my hands on many people and healed them. Prior to going to the army, I never cast out demons. But I experienced that for the first time in the army.

At first, I experienced a lot of embarrassment. It had not been long since I started my faith life, but due to my strong enthusiasm, I was once appointed to preach a sermon during a worship service. However, being inexperienced, instead of preaching a sermon that targets a diverse group of people, I aimed to shock everyone and affirm the existence of God by talking about demons. I boldly declared, “If anyone feels anxious or troubled by what I am saying now, please come forward. I will drive out the demon from you!” Then I waited. About three minutes passed, but no one stepped forward. Why would they? It was a short period. Eventually, one person did come forward, and he was my senior. I commanded towards him, “Get out! Get out!” for 5 minutes but the demon didn’t leave, and I ended up feeling humiliated. He told me, “Hey stop now!” So, I had to bring it to an end. It was an incredibly embarrassing experience.

Surprisingly, the very next morning, someone came to see me, saying, “Please drive out the demon from me!” So I did, and the demon left. This person had a swollen throat and could not speak, but after the demon was cast out, he was instantly healed. So I said, “Let’s give thanks in prayer!” and was going to pray. However, he thought I wanted him to pray, and miraculously, he, who could not speak before, started praying on his own. That was my first experience of casting out a demon, and from that point on, I gained courage to continue doing so.

Later on, I went to China as a missionary, but at that time I had not received any special missionary training. I was simply believer who had led my faith life at our church for about five years – 2 years in the army and then 3 years out of the army. Then I went to China and I met a paralytic there. Since the Bible says so and because I had experienced the same when I trusted the Lord’s word and obeyed, I was confident. I was at a rural village in China and a lady brought her husband on a handcart with boards laid on it. I think she always went around like that. So people lifted him still on the boards and laid him on the floor. So he laid down at the very front and listened to the sermon.

So I testified that God is living and I laid my hand on the man, saying, “Gold and silver I do not have but in the name of Jesus, in the name of God, get up!” and pulled him up. It was an attempt, just like in the Bible. And this man exclaimed, “Ah!Ah!” and got up. Since I didn’t know who the man was, I assumed he was merely getting up. However, all the villagers there, young and old, regardless of age and gender, rose from their seats and started jumping up and down while singing in Chinese, “Glory, glory hallelujah!” They were so excited that I didn’t even need to tell them to, “Clap your hands!” Or “Sing louder!” I then commanded the old man to walk, and he did. I told him, “Jump!” and he kept jumping. Without instructing him to stop, he continued jumping. So, I decided to let him keep going while I continued preaching. He jumped up and down behind me for twenty minutes.

This is what happens to those who believe in Jesus. The words written in the Bible come true as they are written. That is why we read the Bible. However, with regard to healing, even if we are healed once, our bodies can fall ill again.  Even if we live in good health, eventually, our bodies will die and return to the dust.

However, what God wants to give us goes beyond that. God desires to grant us His life, an eternal life that never fades away. The existence that can receive this life is not our physical body but our soul-spirit. Therefore, our soul-spirit receives God’s great love, but if, based on our deeds, our soul-spirit must go to hell.

Every human being is a sinner, as you are likely well aware. Take a moment to reflect on your own life and ask, “If there is heaven and hell, where would I go?” I would have to go to hell. I didn’t love God, and even if I claimed to love Him, I was ungrateful to Him and only remembered only what seemed good to me.

When I said to someone, “We are sinners!” he responded by claiming he was a good person. He misunderstood my message. I wasn’t implying that we are not good; I was emphasizing that we are sinners. Being a sinner means being cut off from God and lacking God’s life. This means we are living without knowing God. But this individual argued, saying, “I’ve been a good person my whole life! I am a good person!” So, I asked him, “Tell me about the good deeds you have done”. This man who was nearly 60 years old, thought deeply for a moment and started talking about his high school years. A man who was nearly 60 was thinking of a good deed he did and he mentions how he used to help carry the school bag for a friend who was physically weak during high school. That was the good deed he told me. So, after pondering for a moment, he could nearly recall an incident from several decades ago.

Then, take a moment to reflect on the evil deeds you have committed. Think about the times you have caused harm to others! Even your own husbands and wives might have scolded you, haven’t they? We are genuinely shameful individuals before God! We are meant to go to hell, but God has bestowed grace upon us so that we no longer have to live in fear and can boldly come before Him.

In the verses we read today, Moses, Elijah and Jesus appear together. Three of the disciples followed Jesus up a mountain. Suddenly, they saw Jesus talking with Elijah and Moses on the mountain. In those days, the disciples were wondering, “Why does our teacher always get persecuted and despised by people? Why do people try to kill Him, and why does He endure these hardships?” However, there were two people who were important figures for their faith. For the Jews and Israelites, prominent figures in their faith. The Old Testament can be represented by those two – Moses and Elijah. Moses gave them the Law, and Elijah represented all the prophets. And since those two men stood side by side with Jesus, the disciples thought, “Wow! That’s incredible! Jesus with them!” They misunderstood. It’s not Jesus they should be surprised about, but rather Moses and Elijah.

For example, if one day you saw me standing next to the president and engaged in casual conversation with him, would you exclaim, “Wow! How does the president know our pastor!”? Instead, you would think, “Oh it’s amazing that Pastor Lee knows the president!” After all, the president is such a prominent figure in this country. You might ponder, ‘How does Pastor Lee have a connection with the president? I didn’t realize they were acquainted!’ Similarly, if Jesus were standing alongside Moses and Elijah and talking with them, who should the disciples find astonishing? They should be surprised at Moses and Elijah, right? Because they are conversing with Jesus, who is the Son of God

However, the disciples were unaware of this. So, they exclaimed, ‘Our Lord Jesus, how amazing! He’s finally gaining recognition! That’s right!’ They were so delighted that they wanted to be with these three figures always. They said, “We will put up three shelters here: one for Elijah, one for Moses and one for You!” In other words, they wanted to stay together with all three of them. But suddenly, a cloud enveloped them, and a voice was heard, saying, “This is My Son whom I love; with Him I am well pleased!” When the disciples looked up, only Jesus remained, and Moses and Elijah had disappeared.

We need to understand God well, but misunderstandings can occur. This is because the Bible contains the words of Moses and Elijah. There is substantial amount of content recorded through Moses and Elijah, even more so in terms of volume. Consequently, when people engage in their faith, they may not know which words to prioritize. As a result, many individuals, while reading the Bible, still cling to the words of Moses and Elijah.

When you listen to Moses, the God you would encounter is a fearsome God. It’s all about, “Do not do this! Do not do that!” Such is what the Law says. They were the commandments given through Moses. Perhaps those without sin, they might feel confident before the Law. However, since we are all sinners, standing before the Law fills us with shame and leads to our destruction. Thus, no one can be unashamed before Moses; instead, all confess, “I am a sinner!” Therefore, the message from the prophets is that, “You need a Savior!” However, God Himself testifies that we should no longer listen to Moses or Elijah but rather to whom? Jesus- the words of the Son of God.

Jesus came to the earth in the lowest state. He even died on the cross and was cursed. God tells us to listen to Him. Why? Because He is the One sent by God. God didn’t send just His servant; He sent the Son of God who is equal to God to work according to God’s will. Hence our faith life is about listening to Jesus. That’s what our faith life is all about. Therefore, if anyone says, “I will learn about God, I know God, I obey God!” but transcends Jesus, they have no real connection to faith. God doesn’t accept that. We have no right to stand before God without Jesus. Therefore, the one we know, trust, believe and follow is Jesus.

We believe in Jesus, the Son of God, the Christ, the One sent by God. When we are united with Him, we receive the love that God has for His Son. But it doesn’t stop with that love alone. Jesus came as Christ, as God’s servant. Therefore, we also follow in the footsteps of Christ, saying, “Since I have been guaranteed of such glory, I desire to be used by God to fulfill His will while I live on the earth!” In this way, Jesus Christ is the focus of our faith.

Everyone, please listen to the words of Jesus Christ now. And then follow Him. Moses revealed the God to be feared, but Jesus Christ revealed to us the God of love. There is no reason to be shaken in any situation. You may go and sin again, but that itself is not the problem. The problem is that when we sin, we tend to think that God will no longer love us because of our sin. We can commit sins. Because of that, then who do need to come to? We have to come to Jesus and kneel down before God. Then God will not rebuke but give us another chance. Just as a father who may say to a disobedient son, “Get out of my house!” doesn’t actually want his son to leave, our Father will accept us again if we come to Him, saying, “Father I have done wrong!” This is what our God is like.

God desires to give you all the good things He has to offer. He wants to grant His life, power, and as mentioned earlier, He has already given us the power to heal sicknesses. All you need to do is to use it. He also wishes to set us free from anxiety. Even though our physical bodies will eventually die, He wants to resurrect us so that we can live eternally in the kingdom of heaven. What God wants to provide is limitless. In Jesus’ name I bless you that you will get to know more about this, take possession of more of these things and experience more of this while you are on earth. I’ll pray.

Father God, thank You for sending us Your Son Jesus Christ. Through Him, we have come to know for sure that You are not to be feared, but that You are the One who truly loves us and gave your everything for us. We pray that everyone here can approach You with confidence and receive an abundance of Your love. May their families also be blessed through them. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center