By Allen White
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
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.”
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!”
When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
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.”
The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”
Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.
The same sequence of events leading up to the Transfiguration is recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke. While the Gospel writers other material to suit the themes of their writing, these events are identical in all three. The clear message here is “This is the way it actually happened.”
The Transfiguration follows Peter’s declaration, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16) and Jesus’ prediction of His death (Matthew 16:21-28). A profound revelation is followed by heartbreaking news, but then is confirmed by a glorious, once in a lifetime, divine endorsement.
To say Jesus’ announcement about His death rocked the disciples’ world is an understatement. They had given away all they had to follow him. They dedicated three and a half years of their lives to His work and His teaching. How could so many victories end in such tragedy?
The explanation wasn’t a brilliant exposition of Scripture. The Truth revealed is something better felt than “telt.”
Much of Jesus’ ministry masked His Deity. He often healed people then instructed them not to say anything. The newly healed still had trouble keeping their mouths closed. It’s a good thing Twitter or Facebook weren’t invented yet.
But, on this day, Peter, James and John witnessed something they only viewed through eyes of faith previously. They believed Jesus was the Messiah as much as they could. They believed He was God’s Son. But, on this day, they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt.
God reveals Himself when we need it. Peter, James and John would soon lead the newly formed Church. They would face persecution and eventually die for their faith. They needed the assurance that “I know that I know that I know” In order to fulfill God’s calling on their lives.
So, why doesn’t this happen to us? First of all, we have more revelation in God’s Word, the Bible, than any of the disciples dreamed of having. If you want God to reveal Himself to you, the Bible is a great place to start.
Secondly, you and I haven’t been given the apostles’ mission. Few of us will be persecuted. Very few us will be called to die for our faith. God gives us all we need to successfully live our lives for Him.
Lastly, if we asked God for a revelation like the Transfiguration, we really don’t know what we would be asking for. When I was in Bible college, I used to hear prayers like this: “God reveal Your Mighty power to me. Let me see Your glory.”
I thought, “What are they praying?” In order to see God’s power in action, we need to be in a situation that demands it. God doesn’t display His power just for the excitement of it. We need God’s Mighty power when we find ourselves in a powerless place.
To me, the prayer these students were praying was “Bring it on. Let me see persecution and suffering. Put me in a dark place that demands a miracle. Show me Your power by making me powerless and weak and desperate.” When we’re at the end of ourselves that’s when God’s power shows up.
I would daresay in Western culture, we don’t have a need for God’s mighty power. He won’t perform miracles simply to comfort the comfortable. If we were charging the gates of hell, then certainly God would show up in a big way. But, God’s glory is rarely revealed in a La-Z-Boy recliner.
We need to experience God’s glory. We also need to fulfill God’s calling on each of our lives. We need to get in over our heads. We need to tackle problems too big for us to solve. When we are overwhelmed, when we are thoroughly depleted, when we have exhausted our resources, then God will show up. And, not a second too soon.
What obstacle in your life needs a miracle? Who has God called you to serve? How do you need God’s power to work in you and through you to meet the needs around you? When you ask for God’s power, be ready to face things you’ve never faced before. But, as Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid.”
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