1 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
In order to go where we need to go, we need to be able to see and hear clearly. If our sight and hearing are weak, it will be difficult to carry on. We need guidance and direction to do well in life.
In order for me to write my message each week, I need to be able to see and hear clearly. It is often a struggle to have that kind of clarity. I struggled quite a bit this week to write this sermon. I couldn’t see or hear the message clearly.
That is often the reality of our journey. We don’t see what we need to see. We don’t hear what we need to hear. We lose our way because of that.
The disciples were like that too. They spent every single day with Jesus. Yet they couldn’t understand him very well. They had a hard time seeing who he was. As I said at our Bible study, Peter rightly said that Jesus was the ‘Messiah’. But he didn’t fully know what that meant.
In today’s passage, Jesus takes them up a mountain to pray. He doesn’t bring all twelve. He only takes Peter, James and John—his closest disciples. All of a sudden, Jesus’ appearance changes dramatically. God reveals Jesus in his glory—
There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.Matthew 17:2
In Scripture, mountains are shown as a place where we encounter God. Moses went up a mountain to speak with God and receive the commandments. Elijah met God on a mountain while he was on the run from Jezebel. The disciples also had a spiritual experience. They saw who Jesus really was. Even Moses and Elijah appeared, talking with Jesus. Peter was so taken by the experience that he didn’t want it to end. He offered to build Jesus, Moses and Elijah shelters.
Spiritual highs are rare. They are wonderful but we don’t experience them frequently. That’s why we love retreats. We experience God in a way that we don’t in our daily life. We want it to last forever. But sometimes, we get so caught up in our feelings that we forget to hear what we need to hear. What happened to Peter while he was saying that to Jesus?
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”Matthew 17:5
Peter and the disciples heard God speaking to them. Not only did God reveal Jesus’ identity, God directed Peter and the disciples’ attention back to Jesus. God told them to LISTEN to Jesus.
What Peter wanted to do wasn’t wrong at all. What Peter wanted to do wasn’t what was needed at that moment.
Seeing something extraordinary and spectacular isn’t everything. Seeing goes with hearing. If we just rely on what we see, we can be easily led astray. We can just go along with whatever happens. In any situation, it’s important to also discern what we need to hear in what’s happening.
All of this was too much for the disciples to bear. They fell to the ground because they were ‘terrified’. It was then that they felt Jesus’ gentle touch and heard his voice.
“Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.Matthew 7:7, 8
The disciples couldn’t stay on the mountain forever. They had to go back down. They had their lives to go back to. Jesus assured them. He came back down with them. They continued on their journey once they saw what they needed to see and heard what they needed to hear.
It is God’s nature to reveal himself to us. God doesn’t keep us in the dark. God revealed himself to us in Jesus. God revealed himself to us through his word. God reveals himself to us through the Spirit. God does so out of his love. When God reveals himself, we experience his power and glory. God’s presence encourages us and strengthens us in our walk.
God is not only present in our spiritual highs. God is present even in our mundane, everyday life. Remember what God has shown you in those special moments as you face the challenges of your everyday life.
Many years later, Peter still remembered this moment. He never forgot what he had experienced. He even wrote it down to encourage others who were also going through a difficult time.
For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.2 Peter 1:16, 18
Next week, we are entering into a season of Lent. Lenten journey is one of difficulties and suffering. We will be reflecting on Jesus’ journey to the cross.
Remember who God is. God will help you see what you need to see. God will help you hear what you need to hear. God will help you walk faithfully and courageously. God’s presence and power will manifest in your daily life.