#20: JESUS’ DISCIPLES SEE HIS GLORY
(Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-10, Luke 9:28-36)
Summer, A. D. 29, a mountain near Caesarea Philippi.
Six days after Peter received the revelation from the Heavenly Father about Jesus being the Christ, Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a mountain to pray. But soon after they climb the mountain and get into position to pray, Jesus’ disciples fall asleep. As Jesus prays, there appears a supernatural brilliance shining upon him and radiating from him. His appearance is transformed and his face shines like the sun. Jesus’ clothes become a glistening, sparkling white, as the Scripture describes, “. . . you are clothed with splendor and majesty. He wraps himself in light as with a garment;” (Psalm 104:1b-2, NIV).
Suddenly Elijah and Moses appear with him surrounded by a glorious brightness and they discuss with him at length about his death that he will accomplish in Jerusalem. As the entire area is illuminated with divine light, Peter wakes up and stares in wonder at his Master with Moses and Elijah. As Moses and Elijah begin to depart, Peter declares, “Master, it is so wonderful that we are here! Let us build three tabernacles, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah!” As he finishes his sentence, a glorious cloud of God's presence descends and engulfs all of them with its brightness. A voice thunders out of the cloud declaring, “This is My Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:5b, NIV)
Not only Moses appeared, but also the cloud of God's glory that led Moses and the children of Israel through the wilderness appeared! Also, the voice of God spoke, even as He spoke in times of old to Moses out of the cloud.
Past Events Repeated:
“Behold, I come to you in the thick cloud,
that the people may hear when I speak with you,
and believe you forever”
(Exodus 19:9b, NKJV).
“They called upon the Lord; and He answered them.
He spoke to them in the cloudy pillar;”
(Psalm 99:6b-7a, NKJV)
When the disciples hear God's voice, they fall face down to the ground. Then Jesus comes and touches them and assures them, “Rise up, and do not be terrified” (Matthew 17:7b). The disciples look up, and only Jesus is there. Moses and Elijah are gone. God’s glory, which hung over the mountain like a bright cloud, is gone. They have seen a vision. As they come down from the mountain, Jesus instructs them, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of man is raised from the dead” (Matthew 17:9, LITV). They keep it to themselves, but they wonder what Jesus meant by “the Son of Man will rise from the dead”.
Later John reflects upon this amazing experience, saying, “With our eyes we saw the splendor of his glory and his glory was that of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The glory of God accompanied Moses when he brought the law which condemns sin, but a far greater glory accompanied Jesus, who brought the message of how to be right with God and live in grace and truth (II Corinthians 3:7-9, John 1:17). And in his glory his disciples sense a redeeming and transforming power.
Comments: Through this experience, Peter, James, and John had the rare opportunity to see Jesus as He really was and is. And I believe that no matter how great we see Jesus as, that He is greater than that. I appreciate some of the amazing paintings which artists have done of Jesus. I believe that the Holy Spirit really anointed some of those artists. But sometimes when I pass one of those paintings I say to Jesus, “Jesus, You look better than that and You are more glorious and greater than that!”
When Jesus and His three disciples come down from the mountain the next day, they are met by a man with a demon-tormented, epileptic son (Luke 9:37). Maybe if this man could have seen Jesus the way He looked the day before on the mountain, in all His power and glory, he would not have said to Jesus, “if you can do anything, help us!”
No matter what negative situation we are facing, we serve the One who can and will fulfill His promises which can overcome it. We will continue with the action of this event in our next devotional.
Note: much of this devotional is from The Life of Jesus Foretold, pages 153-155.