Luke 9: 28 – 36 NLT
28 About eight days later Jesus took Peter, John, and James up on a mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30 Suddenly, two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared and began talking with Jesus. 31 They were glorious to see. And they were speaking about his exodus from this world, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem.
32 Peter and the others had fallen asleep. When they woke up, they saw Jesus’ glory and the two men standing with him. 33 As Moses and Elijah were starting to leave, Peter, not even knowing what he was saying, blurted out, “Master, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials – one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 34 But even as he was saying this, a cloud overshadowed them, and terror gripped them as the cloud covered them.
35 Then a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him.” 36 When the voice finished, Jesus was there alone. They didn’t tell anyone at that time what they had seen.
Jesus took three disciples with him as he went to a quiet, secluded place to pray. The disciples were tired and fell asleep. Actually, I understand that since they are keeping a busy schedule, and there are always crowds of people around. Can you imagine what their lifestyle was like? Tons of walking, crowds of people, unpredictable places to sleep and eat … but when they woke up – Wow!
Luke spends the first 9 chapters of his book relating events that took place in the first 2 to 2 and 1/2 years of Jesus’ ministry. Now, he is going to concentrate on the latter days as Jesus prepares to go to Jerusalem. This moment of transfiguration is a heavenly moment before the storm.
Jesus is both human and divine, a concept that is hard for us to truly comprehend. As Jesus prays, his appearance changes; his clothes become “dazzling white” and his “face was transformed”. Moses and Elijah appear and talk with him. “They were speaking about his exodus from this world, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem.” I wonder if this was a reassuring time for the human Jesus as he knew he faced horror ahead.
It was a reassuring time for Peter, James and John who would become the main leaders of the church after Jesus’ ascension. At this moment, we know that they loved Jesus, followed Jesus, but really didn’t grasp what Jesus was all about. There was still that hope that Jesus would rescue Israel and make it great again. That he was about to die wasn’t in their consciousness at all. But it was coming … and they would need a strong faith to keep going.
This time with Jesus in his transformed body with Elijah and Moses was something in their moments of doubt and fear that they would remember. At the time, they were excited and terrified. Peter, in his usual rash self, proposed setting up 3 tabernacles (a small, temporary hut like the ones built during the Feast of the Tabernacles). But then they were covered by a cloud. I suspect they never forgot the voice in the cloud. “This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him.” They didn’t talk about this experience with anyone else until much later, but it was seared into their souls and minds. As events unfolded in Jerusalem, in their fear and confusion, they would remember that moment when God spoke about his son. I’m so glad that God understands each one of us, and knows exactly what we need to carry on his plans for us.
Have you ever experienced the presence of God is some special way? I remember my car ride home from London to talk with my daughters about what the doctors had told my husband and I about his future in 2010. He had been treated for cancer over the past several months, but the cancer hadn’t gone away and his liver transplant was in rejection. They told us he had about 2 weeks to live. I drove home alone, and for those 2 hours, I experienced God’s presence like never before. I listened to a CD by Selah and every song spoke to my heart and mind. Even though I was frightened, I knew God would give me the strength I needed. (God actually gave us a miracle and 8 more years together.)
God was there for Peter, James and John. He knew they needed the assurance God was with them as they were about to face a horrible time. Because they would be the leaders of this new church, God made sure they knew that Jesus was God’s Son.
God can be there for each one of us too. You may have doubts and fears; you are human. But God can give you strength.
Our song for today is You Are My Hiding Place by Selah