THE APOSTLES ARE AWESTRUCK BY THE TRANSFIGURED CHRIST
“Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” – Mark 9:1 –
Jesus proclaims this curious message to His loyal apostles. They are perplexed. What can their Teacher mean by this? Will they be spared the sting of death? Will they be taken up to heaven in a whirlwind like the great prophet Elijah (2 Kings 2:12)?
A few days later, Jesus leads Peter, James and John up on a mountaintop to pray. These are His closest followers, His core disciples, His inner circle. Then, as Jesus is praying, He becomes amazingly transfigured before them…
“His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.” – Matthew 17:2
“The appearance of His face changed, and His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about His departure, which He was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.” – Luke 9:29-30
The apostles see Jesus in all His radiant glory… His majestic splendor… His holy magnificence. Truly He is the Son of God! He is the promised kingdom of God that has come with great power.
Jesus offers these men a rare glimpse of His divinity. The apostles are changed by this experience. Their faith in Jesus as the true Messiah is solidified. Their Lord knows these disciples will need steadfast faith to see them through the trying times that lay ahead.
There will be dark days… days watching their Lord experience injustice and pain, suffering and death. Days when their faith will be tested. Days when they will need to step out and boldly proclaim the gospel message, risking their very lives.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” – Matthew 5:17
Jesus’ coming fulfilled all prophecy. Here, at His Transfiguration, He discusses with Moses and Elijah what He will accomplish in Jerusalem. For these two biblical heroes represent the Law and the Prophets. Their work will continue on in Christ.
The Law given to Moses pointed to the need for a Savior. All the Prophets spoke of the coming Messiah… the only One who could satisfy the Law with His perfect, ultimate sacrifice… the only One who could bridge the chasm between God and man caused by sin.
“Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ For they were all so terrified that Peter did not know what else to say.” – Mark 9:5-6
In these miraculous moments, Peter proposes building shelters for each of them. Perhaps he wants this extraordinary event to last… to linger long in this mountaintop experience. Yet Peter learns he cannot contain or control God and His plans. For the Most High reigns in absolute control… boundless, timeless, infinite.
Suddenly a bright cloud encompasses them all, striking fear in the hearts of the disciples. A Voice from the cloud thunders…
““This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!” – Matthew 17:5
Peter, James and John fall face down in fear and reverence before this holy God. The divinity of Christ as the Messiah is confirmed by the Father. He commands that they listen to His Son. For Jesus has shown Himself to be the preeminent, eternal One in their very presence.
Jesus extends a reassuring touch to His apostles, telling them not to be afraid. When they look up, they see only their Lord as they have always known Him. They would always remember and cherish this mountaintop event throughout their lives.
“We ourselves heard this Voice from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.” – 2 Peter 1:18
God sometimes allows us glimpses of His glory in mountaintop experiences… inspiring times when we feel especially close to Him… when His revelations enlighten us in ways we treasure. Perhaps a Christian concert or retreat touches us in a special way. Maybe times in ministry or in the mission field ignite our passion for kingdom work. Or maybe quiet times deep in God’s Word and prayer rekindle our faith and hope.
Mountaintop experiences are foretastes of our heavenly hope. We are warmed by the presence of our Lord and His abiding love for us. We have a new awakening to His incomparable grandeur. These experiences are for our inspiration. We may desire them to last. Yet we must return to our spiritual walk in the world… a fallen world with sickness and sorrow, sin and evil.
For what God reveals to us on the mountaintop illuminates our purpose in the world. Like the apostles, we are changed by the experience. These glimpses of glory become a cherished part of us. We shine His glory into our world… into dark lives that desperately need the Light. We lead others to see the true glory that can only be encountered in Christ.