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The Cross is Key to Revelation: Matthew 17
Sleeping During Great Revelations
Some people see great revelations from God--like Peter, James, and John did--but the problem is, they sleep on them.
No matter if they have climbed spiritual heights with Jesus. They still merely sleep at deep revelations. It's because only the cross can give us a true appreciation of revelations from God. Even climbing spiritual heights won't be enough. Sure, you get to see awesome revelations from heaven when you're high up there in spirit, but you'd most likely sleep on it like the disciples did. Or, you'd think of setting up monuments or church buildings (or church planting) or think of doing something "for God." Peter thought of building shelters. He missed the whole point.
The only thing you need to do during a glorious revelation is listen. "This is my Son, I love him and am so pleased with him. Listen to him!" said God. You don't need to plan for a 2 or 5-year church plan or do a crusade to broadcast what was revealed. Just relax and listen. Why? Because you need to absorb everything first before you can get the next revelation of what to do next.
Cross Reveals Christ
Jesus told the three disciples not to tell what they saw on the Mount of Transfiguration until the Son of Man had been crucified and resurrected. Only then would any revelation bear any meaning to mortals. You have to witness and experience the cross and resurrection to unlock God's mysteries. "God raised us up with Christ..." (Eph.2.6). If we have died with Christ, God will also raise us up with him. Then we see his glories.
Levels of Spiritual Understanding
There are levels of understanding that God permits to mortals, and we see them all in Matthew 17. We are not to aim for them. Instead, we should aim for the level that Jesus had.
1. Temple Tax Collector Level - This level sees nothing but material possessions. When a revelation comes, they check out who has it and asks, "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax?" It's important to pay taxes (and Jesus paid his), but to be concerned about it while God was doing his greatest revelation in Jesus ever? Some believers won't pay attention to any revelation until they're sure you are a temple or church donor, or that you are a bonafide member.
So Jesus told his disciples to just be patient and understanding with these sorts "that we may not offend them," (17.27). It's useless to argue with these guys. All they understand is money and possessions.
2. Pharisees Level - The Pharisees were able to take in some revelations but were nonetheless blind even when revelations were right under their noses. They understood for centuries that Elijah must come. They've been teaching that. But when Elijah finally came--that is, the spirit of Elijah in John the baptizer--they missed everything. It's utterly useless to know lots of things in the head but so blind to actually apply the information to real life. Everyone knows telling lies is foolish and bad, yet people do them, even respected ones.
The Pharisees never expected the prophecy on Elijah coming back to be almost so literal. They probably thought it was all figurative--probably one day the teachings of Elijah would be given importance in Israel--but not someone one who dressed up and looked like Elijah (and probably smelled like him, too). They probably mocked at such possibility.
But there was John, looking and dressed up like Elijah--wearing camel's hair, leather belt, and with unkempt hair. He must have looked ridiculous to the Pharisees. "Oh, come on, don't give us that crap! And you're supposed to be Elijah just because you look and dress up like him? Bwahaha! (LOL was not yet in use)" they must have said. I don't mean we should interpret Scriptures literally all the time, but we should have the level of understanding of Jesus.
3. The Disciples' Level - The disciples were not able to cast out the demonized child when Jesus and the 3 disciples were back on the plains. They were with Jesus personally, enjoying his very presence daily, but Jesus said they still belonged to the "unbelieving and perverse generation." Jesus' presence is good, but we need his death and resurrection experience to understand everything crystal clear. Incidentally, you see, when you're unable to drive out demons and evil spirits, you belong to the perverse generation.
Jesus said they needed faith that moved mountains. And that won't be possible unless you become a witness of his death and resurrection--in the spirit.
When Jesus talked about his death later, the disciples were "filled with grief." The plan of salvation is a sad story to you when you don't have Jesus' level of understanding. Jesus insinuated that his death and resurrection were far more important than faith moving mountains. Revelation is the rock on which Jesus will build his church. When Peter got that revelation in Matthew 16, Jesus called him blessed. Wisdom is supreme.
How to Experience the Cross
When you deny the self or ego on a daily, permanent basis, without any effort (because it is Jesus doing it in you), then you have experienced the cross and the resurrection.
The Antenna to the Kingdom
The cross which Jesus gives to us is the antenna that connects our eyes and ears to the Kingdom--fact, our very lives. The reception is made clearer the more we embrace that cross--and more so as we climb up to it and be crucified with Christ spiritually, so that we no longer live but Christ who lives in us. Only then do we begin to have the mind of Christ and see God's glorious revelations in all their entirety.
How do you know that you don't sleep during a revelation? It's easy--if it changes you radically from the inside out, and change you forever, to be like the Master!