The True Glory of Jesus
(Mark 9.2-13; Luke 9.28-36)
1 Six days later Jesus took Peter and the brothers James and John with him. They went up on a very high mountain where they could be alone. 2There in front of the disciples, Jesus was completely changed. His face was shining like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.
3All at once Moses and Elijah were there talking with Jesus. 4So Peter said to him, “Lord, it is good for us to be here! Let us make three shelters, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
5 While Peter was still speaking, the shadow of a bright cloud passed over them. From the cloud a voice said, “This is my own dear Son, and I am pleased with him. Listen to what he says!” 6When the disciples heard the voice, they were so afraid they fell flat on the ground. 7But Jesus came over and touched them. He said, “Get up and don't be afraid!” 8When they opened their eyes, they saw only Jesus.
9On their way down from the mountain, Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone what they had seen until after the Son of Man had been raised from death.
10 The disciples asked Jesus, “Don't the teachers of the Law of Moses say Elijah must come before the Messiah does?”
11 Jesus told them, “Elijah certainly will come and get everything ready. 12 In fact, he has already come. But the people did not recognize him and treated him just as they wanted to. They will soon make the Son of Man suffer in the same way.” 13Then the disciples understood Jesus was talking to them about John the Baptist.
There are a few experiences in life that are unforgettable and life transforming. As we journey through life and reflect back on our own story, we can all remember those special moments that marked our life.
Interestingly, the text we are reading today is that one experience that Peter marks out in his own experience and wrote about it in 2 Peter 1:16-18.
In Matthew’s account of the story, he places this event at a very critical moment. Peter’s confession (16:13-20) gave way to a confrontation over his understanding of Jesus’ announcement of the events to come. This necessitated a transforming experience. Jesus is not just divinely inspired – he is God. The event takes place within the week of the previous encounter. Memories are still fresh. Maybe Peter was still hurting or haunted by Jesus’ rebuke. “Am I ready to put self-interest aside – my perspective on what I want my leader to do and accomplish?” Some critical events in Jewish history took place on mountains. Moses received the Torah on a mountain (Exodus 24) and Elijah went straight into God’s presence (2 Kings 2). The canon of Jewish scriptures concludes by talking about these two men (Malachi 4: 4-6). So it was on a mountain that Jesus, with Peter, John and James have an encounter with these two men who had also had life transforming experiences.
The voice from heaven repeats a phrase that was said at Jesus’ baptism, “This is my Son, whom I love; with whom I am well pleased.” But then there is a small addition, “Listen to him.” Jesus’ own explanation of this transforming experience as they come down from the mountain refers back both to how God is preparing the way for those specific events that he had talked about six days earlier. It was getting clearer. When Peter writes about it 30 years later, he really had listened.
Lord Jesus, I desire to experience you and listen to your voice in every area of life. Show me where I am slow to believe and need to have a transforming encounter with you. I desire to follow you each day.