And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah." He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Rise, and have no fear." And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. — Mt 17:1-8
I feel like I must start out with a confession today: I have found myself as distracted as I could be this week, and I have seen things not as God sees them, but as man sees. I have let anxiety and fear and worry be my companion in place of the peace that passes all understanding that Jesus freely offers. In a lot of ways, I feel like my week has mimicked Peter's as we have studied-- he's been rebuked by Jesus, called Satan, and challenged that he isn't focused on what he should be focused on. He spoke too soon and too harshly and out of turn.
But Jesus, in His graciousness, still allows Peter to see (up until this point) the greatest sight of his life: the Transfiguration, and I'm grateful to see it through his eyes as well. It is unfathomable to completely understand what they saw: a shining face, bright white clothes-- and a conversation with two heroes of the Jewish faith, Moses and Elijah (representing the Law and the Prophets, respectively).
Do you wonder what they were talking about? Surely, it had something to do with what Jesus was to experience on the Cross-- the pain of it all. If I were Peter or James or John, I would have had my jaw glued to floor, entirely in awe of what was happening before my eyes. They were seeing Jesus' glory unveiled to them in a way that no one on earth had seen before. Sure, they had seen his power in his the crowds he fed, the people he healed, and the teaching he did. But his glory was shining clear and bright and they weren't even having to veil their eyes like those whom God passed before in the Old Testament. And Peter, sweet Peter, says "hey, it's so good that we're here! We'll built you, and Moses and Elijah tents, and we can all just hang out here forEVER-- so great, right??" He's just blabbering on, talking to Jesus who is revealing his GLORY right now (I almost typed "revealing his FREAKING glory right now" because, um, HELLO, Peter, stay in the moment, buddy!). Jesus told him six days before that he had to suffer and die, and yet here's Peter, still hoping there's a different way-- "we can just hang out here forever! James and John and I are handy, we'll craft up a tent for all of you real quick, and just stay and commune up here forever with Moses and Elijah!" Peter's focused on them, but really, he's focused on himself-- what can HE do, how can HE create an environment that seems best to HIM?
God interrupts Peter. I can't stand how much I love this. Because Peter is literally blabbering, and is cut off by THE VOICE OF THE ONE TRUE GOD. Apparently, no one could shut him up except for God, literally. Because, guess what-- it's not about Peter. It's not about Moses or Elijah. IT'S ABOUT JESUS. Jesus is GLOWING right now Peter, and you're not even awestruck to the point of silence. So God is going to point out so clearly, "This is my Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him". Peter had gotten a lot of commands from Jesus before-- "leave your nets; follow me; come (out on the water)". But the command from God, "listen to him" was the one that actually made him terrified. Before this, we don't see terror in Peter. Even a few minutes before, we don't see terror. We see absurd giddy and good intentions but lack of understanding.
But when God speaks-- the disciples fall on their faces, and are terrified. Because it's about Jesus, not about them, not about Moses, not about Elijah, not about the "cool experience". It's about Jesus. Jesus, who loves them so deeply, he looks past Peter's absurd offer and constant talking, who sees their fear-- which He's already witnessed in Peter-- and says, "Rise, and have no fear". Jesus knows His Father's voice, and that they shouldn't be afraid, for Jesus has come to cast out all their fears.
They saw no one but Jesus, because that's where our focus should always be-- on Jesus only. Peter's excitement reminds me of how excited I get when I listen to a really convicting Francis Chan or Tim Keller sermon, and I just tell everyone I know about it and I say things to my friends like, "hey, let's drop everything and move to San Francisco and work in the Tenderloin with Francis", and it sounds great, and it's not terrible in theory but my focus is really on this person or this small aspect of great ministry rather than heart of the Gospel which is always JESUS. If I want to work with Francis or learn from Tim more than I want to know Jesus Himself, I have my priorities as mixed up as Peter. I'm seeing things as a human, and not as God sees them. And we need God to interrupt us, to push out out of the way and stop of babbling and hear His truth: Jesus is the Son of God, and He is always good and pleasing to God.
Dear God, I appreciate the opportunity see the glory of Jesus even when I am such a failure, focused on the world. God, interrupt my babbling and push me out of the way. Show me more of Jesus, and less of myself. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Dig Deeper: Do you relate to this part of Peter-- focusing on the earthly, instead of the eternal glory of Jesus?