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A Congregation Of Three

In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke we read the story of the transfiguration.  Each of the three writers tells the same story in their own words.  One of the interesting things to me is that Jesus only takes three of the twelve disciples.

Mark 9:2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them.

So often in ministry we measure things by “nickels and noses”.  That is to say we measure our success by how many people show up on Sunday and how much they give.  Jesus is not concerned with either.  He only bring three disciples with Him.  If He had transfigured during the sermon on the mount He could have had a congregation of 1000.000 or more within days.

Consider what happens. He shines as bright as a star, begins talking with Moses and Elijah, and for a finale, God Himself shows up to say how proud He is of Junior and that everyone needs to listen to Him.

3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

 7 Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

Jesus even goes so far as to tell the three with Him not to tell anyone until after the resurrection.

9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

Why keep quiet?  How much better can it get?  If you want to start a world-wide ministry with a bang that would have done it.  Jesus is only concerned with pleasing God.  The transfiguration did not happen to to impress anyone.  Jesus is not preparing to launch His evangelism career to the next level.  For many, this is a sign that Jesus is being prepared for death.  I believe he only brought three disciples with Him for a few reasons.

  1. He wanted support.  There is some evidence that Peter, James and John were His closest friends.
  2. He wanted a valid account to be handed down.  Jesus eventually want the world to know, and having three eyewitnesses was common in that day to prove validity of events.
  3. He wanted His disciples to hear from the Father.  While there is no reason to doubt Jesus was encouraged by His father’s words, God was speaking to Peter, James and John.

It is funny that it was these disciples that started the Christian Church.  Three thousand are converted after Peter’s first sermon.  More than in all of Jesus’s earthly ministry.  

For most of His ministry Jesus was about a popular as a good local garage band.  Although His disciples become more famous we see no evidence that are concerned about how big the crowds were.  We shouldn’t either.  What matters is that we minister when God asks us to.   God the father was proud of Jesus knowing He only brought a congregation of three.


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