Sometimes people disappoint. Leaders, family, friends, coworkers, you name it and they will disappoint you somewhere along the line. Pre-election expectations turn into post-election reality. The heir to the throne squanders what was previously gained and misery grows instead of lessens (1 Kings 12). As long as there are people in the world, there will be disappointment.
That may have been Peter, James, and John’s sentiment as Jesus provides more information about his expectations of them (and ultimately all disciples). Riding high on Jesus’ accomplishments, the disciples witnessed Jesus calming a storm (Luke 8:22-25), exorcized the demoniac of the Gerasenes (8:26-39), healed a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years (8:40-48), and raised a twelve year old girl from the dead (8:49-56). Jesus gave the disciples power to cast out demons, heal the sick, and cure diseases (9:1-6). With five loaves of bread and two fish, over five-thousand people are fed (9:10-17). Finally, Jesus accepts Peter’s proclamation that he is indeed the Christ of God (9:20).
This is all good stuff. However high the disciples may have been, they are quickly sobered when Jesus says that he will suffer many things, and the power-holders (elders, chief priests, teachers of the law) will reject him and kill him (9:22). Oh yeah, and if you want to follow me (Jesus), you must deny yourself and daily pick up your own cross. You are not to be ashamed of me and cling to your own life as if it’s the most important thing you have (9:23-27).
In about a week, the disciples go from victory to despair. But as Peter, James, and John go up on the mountain with Jesus to pray, they will behold the majesty of the Lord. Jesus is transfigured (Matt and Mark use the word metamorphosis; which means to change into another form) and the disciples don’t know what to say. Luke says that his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightening (9:29). Matthew says His face shone like the sun (Matt 17:2). For a moment, the outer person of Jesus was set aside and his true glory shone through. WOW!
On the mountain in a blaze of glory, Jesus was talking with Moses and Elijah about his death. These representatives of the Old Testament and all it stood for discussed how Jesus would tie all of their history together and bring to fulfillment God’s plan of redemption (9:30-31). As the Shekinah glory (the cloud) descended upon Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, the voice of the Father said, this is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him (9:34-35).
Listen to Jesus. Listen to what he says. He says that he is the Way the Truth and the Life; no one gets to the Father accept through him (John 14:6). Open your ears. He states I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12). Pay attention. He proclaims, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matt 11:28-30).
Peter, James, and John followed Jesus despite the hardships that would come to pass. Tradition says that Peter was crucified upside down. James was killed by Herod and John was exiled until he was an old man. They were transformed, willing to suffer because they saw what was behind the veil of Jesus’ flesh. They knew that no matter what happened in their earthly life, because of Jesus, their eternal life was secure. And the same thing can be said about you. If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, then all the Gospel promises are yours. The transfiguration proclaims from the mountaintop that Jesus has the authority to keep you secure, even if this life seems like Hell.
John says about Jesus, we have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son (John 1:14).
Peter says, For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain (2 Pet 1:16-18).
Eyewitness accounts of the glory that was to come.
That is the glorious good news of the Gospel. God came wrapped in human flesh to live a perfect life we could not live to meet His holy requirements we could not attain. Our faith; our belief that Jesus did all that was necessary to secure our forgiveness by God is a beautifully simple plan for us. It cost Him dearly; it cost Him His Son. Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, sent by God to atone for your sins? Jesus will not disappoint; believe him and live.
Grace and Peace,