No one but Jesus

...And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. (Matthew 17:8)

The end of the account of the transfiguration contains another small detail, but one that is the most significant.

The end result of this encounter, the final state after all that took place, when everything else was said and done, the one focus, the one object of attention the only one left to occupy centre stage was Jesus.

Of course on a superficial level, you could say that this verse is just there to indicate that the glory cloud, and Moses and Elijah were no longer there, and that is true. But the wording is not accidental. Everything that took place was to give glory and honour to Jesus alone. It is fitting that at the end, the disciples gaze was on nothing and no-one else.

This, again, has application to the Church. At the end of the day, everything that we do, all the we build, everything that we are a part of must be judged by this, and this alone: how does it serve to give glory to Jesus?

To put it another way, does it end with Jesus alone central in the spotlight? Have we assisted in lifting him up, bringing him honour, or as the Manchester boys would say... "Making him famous."

Everything else must be subordinate to this ultimate goal. All our worship, all our witness, all prophecy, all service, all ministry, all leadership, all meetings, all activity. Everything.

Once we take our eyes off Jesus, we allow all kinds of other things to come in. The Church is not here to give us a ministry, to satisfy our spiritual hunger, or to pander to our preferences of style. It's not here to be relevant to society or to meet a niche need in the community. It's not here for us, period. The Church exists for one purpose, or rather one person: Jesus Christ alone.

The ultimate purpose of all activity in the Church is that Christ alone should be seen, not only in its focus, but also in its destination. For the Church itself, when it reaches maturity, is to represent the fullness of Christ.

It is for this reason that God has given the church the gift of ministries:

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)

That is our ultimate goal. That is how it will be when the Church reaches maturity. That when the world looks at the church, they will not see our anointed leaders, great teaching, efficient programmes, or anything else that we might like to pat ourselves on the back about...

...they will see no one but Jesus only.


Mark H said...

Thanks Chris. Challenging post as always :-)

The sad flip-side of course is when we don't do the things you mention to glorify Jesus. For example, we CAN meet the needs in the community in a way that glorifies Him - more than that, we MUST. We're not glorifying Him in the world, being agents of the increase of His government, His ambassadors, sat in our meetings or in our personal devotions! The problem arises if in finding some success in the "going out", we take our eyes off of Him. If our eyes become distracted elsewhere then we're no longer pointing others to Him. That possibility is sobering.

Not even the glory cloud, nor demonstrations of power, signs and wonders, nor any kind of good works, are meant to distract us from Jesus:

On that day many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.
(Matthew 7:22–23 ESV)

Don't let our gaze wander Lord.

Chris HH said...

Mark, you are absolutely right. I could have qualified this post, but I made a deliberate decision not to.

The danger is not in doing these things (we must!) but in allowing any of them to become our raison d'etre.

Even good (and necessary) works can become idolatrous if they take any of the spotlight that belongs to Christ alone.

When people love the way they do things, more than they love Jesus (the reason they do them) what you have is no longer an expression of the Church but an empty shell. The life of God will move on elsewhere.

Chris HH said...

> Not even the glory cloud, nor demonstrations of power, signs and wonders, nor any kind of good works, are meant to distract us from Jesus:

Spot on! It reminds me of the exchange God offered Moses in Exodus 33. He considered guaranteed victory over his enemies, and angelic visitation a "disater" compared to having the presence of the Lord.

finleykaren said...

Go to www.choosejesusrightnow.com & click on BUMPER STICKERS.

Mark H said...

I'm glad you wrote the post without qualification too. I received a sharp prod because of the way you wrote it. Thank you.

Richard Bentall said...


We can only look upwards if we want to see Christ.