Experiencing Closeness with God
In Matthew 17:1-13, a remarkable event took place on a mountain. Jesus, accompanied by Peter, James, and John, ascended a high and solitary mountain. Although the specific mountain is not identified in the Scriptures, its significance lies in the profound encounter that unfolded. This story unveils the incredible way God works with humanity—through intimacy. Despite being followed by thousands, Jesus consistently sought moments of solitude to commune with God. Let us delve into the details of this extraordinary occurrence and explore the lessons it holds for our own spiritual journeys.
The Transfiguration: A Glimpse of Beauty
Six days after ascending the mountain, Jesus underwent a radical transformation. His appearance began to shift, and He was transfigured before Peter, James, and John. The word “transfigured” may not be commonly used today, but it conveys the idea of being transformed into something more beautiful or elevated. Jesus revealed a glimpse of His divine nature, radiating a brilliance resembling the sun, while His garments turned dazzlingly white. In addition to this awe-inspiring sight, Moses and Elijah appeared and engaged in conversation with Jesus. Can you imagine the emotions and wonderment that must have overwhelmed the disciples?
As Charles Spurgeon, the renowned preacher, once said, “When the soul is in a healthy condition, her beauty is as of the sun.” The transfiguration of Jesus reflected the inner glory of His divinity, captivating the disciples and revealing a taste of the splendor that awaits those who believe in Him.
Divine Confirmation: The Voice from Heaven
As if the transfiguration itself wasn’t astounding enough, a bright cloud overshadowed the disciples, and a voice resonated from it. This divine proclamation affirmed Jesus’ identity and mission. The voice declared, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” Upon hearing these words, the disciples fell face down in fear and awe. This heavenly encounter served as a rare privilege for these three men, an experience that few others had the opportunity to share. Although they may not have fully comprehended its significance at the time, their lives were forever transformed by this encounter.
Responding to God’s Voice: Listening and Obeying
When God speaks, it demands our attention. In the disciples’ case, they needed to hear this affirmation from God because they were experiencing Jesus’ ministry firsthand. It is crucial to verify that the voice we hear is genuinely from God. In Jesus’ case, His life and actions aligned perfectly with the prophecies and teachings of the Scriptures. Furthermore, the testimony of Moses and Elijah alongside the heavenly voice solidified the truth of Jesus’ identity.
The heavenly voice affirmed three essential aspects:
Believing in Jesus: The Son Beloved by the Father
God declared Jesus as His beloved Son. Jesus holds a unique position, loved and cherished by the Father. He is not merely anybody but the one who brings salvation, redemption, and reconciliation to all who believe in Him. Embracing Jesus as the Son of God is the foundation of our faith.
Pleasing God: Emulating Jesus’ Life
God expressed His pleasure with Jesus, acknowledging that Jesus lived in complete obedience to the Father’s will. As followers of Christ, we are called to pattern our lives after Him, aligning our desires and actions with God’s purposes. Our aim should be to please God by living in accordance with His teachings and commandments.
Saint Augustine emphasized this truth, stating, “Love God and do as you please.” When our hearts are filled with love for God, our desires naturally align with His will, leading us to live lives that bring pleasure to Him.
Obeying Jesus: The Imperative to Listen and Act
Although the disciples witnessed remarkable signs, including the voice from heaven and the presence of Moses and Elijah, God emphasized the need to listen to Jesus. These extraordinary occurrences reinforced the authority of Jesus’ words. It is not enough to hear His teachings; we must also put them into practice.
True obedience flows from a heart that is captivated by Christ and committed to following His instructions.
Jesus, Moses, and Elijah: Establishing Superiority
Interestingly, despite the presence of Moses and Elijah, God directed the disciples to listen specifically to Jesus. While the Israelites esteemed Moses as the one who received the Law, and Elijah as a mighty prophet, God’s voice pointed to Jesus as the ultimate authority. Jesus occupies a position of supremacy over Moses and Elijah, a truth exemplified in this remarkable scene from Matthew 17. The Old Testament figures find their fulfillment and completion in Jesus, the Messiah and Savior of the world.
The account of Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain reveals the privilege of experiencing intimacy with God. It teaches us the importance of listening to Jesus, believing in Him as the beloved Son of God, and living lives that please the Father. As we reflect on this extraordinary event, let us consider practical ways to apply these lessons to our daily lives:
- Cultivate a personal relationship with God through prayer, seeking moments of solitude to commune with Him.
- Study and meditate on God’s Word, allowing it to transform our hearts and minds.
- Seek to please God in all areas of our lives by aligning our thoughts, attitudes, and actions with His will.
- Develop a heart of obedience, prioritizing the application of Jesus’ teachings in our daily lives.
Remember, through Jesus, we have been granted access to an intimate relationship with God. May we embrace this closeness and continually seek to grow in our understanding and obedience to His Word.