1 Six days later Jesus took with him Peter and the brothers James and John and led them up a high mountain where they were alone. 2 As they looked on, a change came over Jesus: his face was shining like the sun, and his clothes were dazzling white. 3 Then the three disciples saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus. 4 So Peter spoke up and said to Jesus, “Lord, how good it is that we are here! If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was talking, a shining cloud came over them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased – listen to him!” 6 When the disciples heard the voice, they were so terrified that they threw themselves face downwards on the ground. 7 Jesus came to them and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid!” 8 So they looked up and saw no one there but Jesus. 9 As they came down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Don’t tell anyone about this vision you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from death.”
Jesus chooses only his first three disciples – Peter, John and James – to climb a mountain with him for a prayer time. And the disciples witness something remarkable.
The first thing they notice is Jesus’s face shining. Then they spot that his clothes have turned dazzling white. Next, he is talking with Moses and Elijah.
The appearance of these two men, both major figures in Israel’s history, is significant. Moses led the exodus of God’s people out of slavery in Egypt. And many Jews expected the prophet Elijah to return before the coming of the Messiah.
In Luke’s account (Luke 9:31) the prophets talk with Jesus about how he will soon fulfil God’s purpose through his death (or “exodus”, the literal meaning of the word Luke uses) in Jerusalem. Jesus will fulfil God’s salvation plan for humankind, bringing everlasting deliverance.
This breathtaking experience may have strengthened Jesus. He faced many testing days ahead, days that ended with his death on the Cross. The shining cloud reveals God’s presence and veils his glory. As at Jesus’s baptism, God speaks. He affirms Jesus as his Son whom he has chosen. And this time God adds the instruction to the disciples to “listen to him”.
This event, together with the other miracles and teaching that surround it, should have enlightened the disciples. But they needed to travel much further with Jesus. In fact, it wasn’t until they met him after the Resurrection that they really understood who he was and his God-given mission on earth.
What range of feelings or emotions do you think the disciples experienced? God says of Jesus: “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased – listen to him!” What do you think the three disciples would have made of this?
Why do you think Jesus told them not to discuss this vision with anyone until after they saw the Son of Man raised from the dead? Where has God appeared veiled by a cloud before?
“The words of the Lord are true, and all his works are dependable… May your constant love be with us, Lord, as we put our hope in you” (Psalm 33:4, 22).
How easy do you find it to listen to God? Read through Psalm 33. You may simply want to focus on a few verses such as the two above. Ask God to speak to you. Then make your response to him in prayer.
“He saved us and called us to be his own people, not because of what we have done, but because of his own purpose and grace” (2 Timothy 1:9).
In the reading from 2 Timothy 1:8-10, the Apostle Paul encourages us not to be ashamed of witnessing for our Lord or suffering for the Good News. Consider your response to this.
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