When it comes to the transfiguration we realize this was a special moment for a few of the Disciples. Jesus made a promise in Matthew 16:28 that some would see Him in His glory (Kingdom). Literally the promise was to see Jesus as He truly is. Some have interpreted this to mean the next couple of verses. Some have taken this to mean His resurrection. Some say it was at Pentecost and some say it was John on the Island of Patmos. Either way it was written for that generation because it says “some who are standing here”
Jesus may have taken those three because Jewish custom was that evidence of two or three was confirmation on any matter.
Deuteronomy 19:15 A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.
So the Disciples testimony of this matter would have sufficed in a court of law in their day. Jesus wanted them to experience Him on a deeper level so that later they could pass on what they had seen and experienced.
Transfigured means to change in form
Jesus Glory shined through from the inside out and it is the Jesus we will see at the end of time.
Moses and Elijah appeared
Then Peter wanted them to stay there and so he offered to build tabernacles for each of them. During the feast of tabernacles people would build booths of branches and straw and live in these shelters for 7 days. It was that kind of shelter that Peter was thinking about building.
A Bright cloud
God showed up like He did with Moses on the mountain (Exodus 24:15) and for the people in the wilderness (Exodus 13:21-22) and when He filled the temple. (Exodus 40:34)
When the disciples heard the voice of God they fell to their faces.
Elijah has already come
Jesus has explained this before that John the Baptist was a form of Elijah but He needed them to understand that because it was one of the prophecies they were looking for. Some thought Jesus was the one to come before the Messiah because of all the miracles He performed. The religious leaders did ask John if he was Elijah and he said no but the Bible is clear that John the Baptist is the one to come before Jesus. (John 1) Malachi in chapter 3 and 4 described the prophet to come would be like Elijah not Elijah himself. They were looking for Elijah to return to earth not another person like Elijah.
Luke 1:17-18 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
Jesus again tells them to not say anything because the people had the wrong view of the Messiah. Jesus wanted them to wait till after He had died and rose again breaking the bondage of sin that kept all the world separated from God.
1) God is Relational
God is a relational God. He came down for Adam and Eve after they had disobeyed Him. He led the Children of Israel personally through the desert. He came in human form for mankind in Jesus.
2 Peter 1:16-18 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,[i] with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
Peter was saying we were eyewitnesses because we were with Him when God personally spoke to them testifying about Christ.
Matthew 13:11-13 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
We understand this because what we share in public is not what we share with someone we spend a lot of time with. The more intimate you are to a person the more about their life, their dreams you discover.
Listen to Him
The best thing a disciple could do is listen.
We are a society of talking with no listening. In fact face book and twitter accounts are about you having a conversation with yourself hoping others join in.
One of the problems with Christianity and our prayers is we do not like silence and therefore we do not learn to listen.
When is the last time you sat silent with God and listened?
When is the last time you took a day or half a day to spend with God?
Many will say you do not have time to do that and I would say you do not have time not to. We make time for our favorite show or sporting event which usually will take up half a day but taking time to spend with God we never seem to set aside time for.
If you do not have a relationship with God that is not His fault but yours. These three disciples accompanied Jesus several times when He went to spend time with God.
Mark 5:37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James.
Mark 14:33 And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled.
2) God is Awesome
Think about Moses and Elijah showing up on this mountain and how you would feel but then when God showed up they fell to their faces. The awesomeness of God is not something we can fully grasp but one day we will. Peter wrote a lot about the end times due to the fact that nothing else matters in this life compared to God.
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
They were terrified but through that they were ready to listen. Fear is a great motivator. You can be super tired but if you get scared you can run like a deer.
This awesomeness of God is so unbelievable and the reason I say that we are not going to have any questions when we get to Heaven. Once we experience Gods Glory nothing else will matter.
I have a hard time with the accounts of people going to heaven for this reason that I do not hear what really happens when people encounter God. The Bible is clear that when people experienced God they felt fear.
Isaiah 6:1-5 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train[a] of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”[b] 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
Daniel 8:15-17 When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it. And behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. 16 And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” 17 So he came near where I stood. And when he came, I was frightened and fell on my face. But he said to me, “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.”
Revelation 1:17-18 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
The fear of God is not something many Christians talk about. We talk about His love and His grace but we do not understand the awesomeness to the point that we fear Him.
Psalm 31:19 Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!
The Fear of God is Reverential Awe a mixture of fear, wonder, admiration and respect
Webster’s Dictionary describes Awe as an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred
When we sing Our God is an Awesome God we are singing He is a dreadful, fearful, wonderful, to be respected and admired God.
We have left the awe out of awesome God and just came out with some God.
There are 150 references to the Fear of God in the Bible.
In C.S. Lewis book, The Lion, the witch, and the Wardrobe one of the children ask about Aslan
“Is He safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion. That you will, dearie, and no mistake said Mrs. Beaver. If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or just plain silly.
Then He isn’t safe? Said Lucy
Safe? Said Mr. Beaver. Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe. But He’s good. He’s the King I tell you.
Romans 11:22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.
Hebrews 12:28-29 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.
Do we give God the worship He deserves?
Our fear of God is not to be a freezing fear where we are afraid to approach Him. If your fear of God is based on performance than you missed it.
Our fear of God is that of a loving Father who disciplines us out of love and does not leave us where we are because of His love.
See Also: 2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Peter 1:17; 2:17; Acts 9:31
God is relational but He is also Awesome. When God shows up everything changes in your life. Have you met that God or have you only met the God that you think He is? We need to be like Moses who prayed for God to show Him His Glory (Exodus 33:18). If you pray that just know you will be changed forever.