Witnessing the Transfiguration

Witnessing the Transfiguration

Jesus selected 3 out of 12 to witness all miracles, His glorification and empowers us to live those miracles. He reflects His glory through us to others to change sinful lives.

“His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light” (Matthew 17:2). In the Gospel accounts one thing is prominently made clear that the Lord selected three out of the twelve disciples to accompany Him for witnessing or participating in all special events. Despite this there is no recorded position of dissent or jealousy among the others for this preferential treatment to Simon Peter, James and John, except when Salome, Jesus’ aunt and mother of James and John, sought seats of importance for her two sons “in Your kingdom” (Matthew 20:21). Even after resurrection, when Peter had denied the Lord, the message of the angel to the three women in the tomb was clear, “But go, tell His disciples- and Peter- that He is going before you to Galilee” (Mark 16:7). Only Peter’s name is singled out for this most important message for humanity. What was so unique in the three to gain that entry in to the core group of the Lord, despite their many failures?

Childlike openness of David earns him the honor of being a “man after mine own heart” by God (1 Samuel 13:14 & Acts 13:22) and the answer to the puzzle is found in the Psalms written by David, especially the ones written during the fourteen years of hiding to escape Saul. David pours out his heart before God seeking vengeance for his enemies, yet praising Him even when feigning mental illness before Abimelech (Psalm 34). The chosen three disciples may be seen in a similar light during their behavior and conduct before the Lord. On one extreme are Peter’s steps of faith of walking on water (Matthew 14:28-31), declaration of Jesus as the Son of the living God- The Christ- Messiah (Matthew 16:16) while on the other rebuking Him for talking about His sacrifice at Jerusalem (Matthew 16:22). In a similar manner the two brothers, James and John, nicknamed “sons of thunder”, want to “command fire to come down from heaven and consume” the Samaritan village that “did not receive Him” (Luke 9:52-54).

Ready to leap at the command to fulfill His will is evident in those who are given major responsibilities. Be it Moses, Isaiah volunteering “Hear I am. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8), Jeremiah or Ezekiel, every chosen man was ready to leap into the unknown and face consequences, feeling secure in the knowledge that He who has called would also provide the necessary power to do and bear. They did express their fears before the Lord but diligently followed His command thereafter, even to the point of “death on the cross- head downwards” on the plea that he did not deserve the same position of crucifixion as his Lord.

Expression of faith by the select was evident in their life after the selection, even to the point of taking a stand to oppose God, where Moses could confront God “please forgive their sin- but if not, then blot my name out of the book You have written” (Exodus 32:32). Likewise Peter could say during the process of healing of the woman with a twelve year old blood flow problem “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, Who touched Me” (Luke 8:45). Probably it was this faith in the power of the Messiah that could allow them to fall asleep, due to fatigue, in the Gethsemane Park, when told to pray. Their innocent belief in their personal strength to face a situation also endeared them to the Lord. Peter boasted of his sincerity to “go with You, both to prison and to death” (Luke 22:33).

Open to scrutiny is another characteristic evident in the chosen ones of God. Thus David cries out “Search me, O God, and know my heart, try me and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). Peter wept bitterly after denying the Lord thrice but runs out to the tomb with John to confirm the news given by Mary Magdalene and John recognizes the Lord “waiting for them with breakfast” but Peter jumps in to the water to swim ashore to reach Him. The feeling of guilt hung heavy on Peter when he is asked by the Lord the third time “Do you love Me? And he said to Him, “Lord you know all things, You know that I love You” (John 21:17).

Commitment to Christ is clearly displayed by the three elect, right throughout the Gospel accounts. Keenness to serve the Lord remained the essential ingredient of their fellowship and following of Jesus. Peter shows his diligence to prepare three ‘booths- one for the Lord and one each for Moses and Elijah’ without a care for themselves. It is the same spirit which John displays by calling himself as “the follower whom Jesus loved” and the three of them set an example for others. Not only was John the only one present at the foot of the cross to receive the rare honor of caring for Mary, the mother of Jesus, he was the only one to die a natural death after a vision into the “Throne Room of God” with great revelations. James was the first Apostle to be martyred and Peter and John were the first to venture out in to the Temple to preach the Gospel, despite threats to life from the very Chief Priests who had crucified the Lord.   

The All Knowing Lord was aware of the betrayal of Judas Iscariot, His trial and crucifixion, Satan’s asking of Peter to “sift him as wheat” and was also well aware of the difficult task He was to assign the three, especially Peter and John, for James was to face early martyrdom. They were made privy to witness His glory in the raising of the dead (Jairus’ daughter), The Deity of Jesus during transfiguration and the humanity of Jesus in the Gethsemane Park (“My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death” Matthew 26:38). He let them witness His agony but prayed to save and grant them strength to face their trials that were coming. The three formed a team and though John, being younger, outran Peter to the tomb, yet he waited for him to come and enter first.

Peter understood the method and importance of being chosen and that is why he declares to all followers, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people” (1 Peter 2:9). We are also “His own special people” for He has promised to ‘never leave you nor abandon you’ and with the Holy Spirit He dwells in us to empower us and lead us to “do greater works”.

We can experience the “glory of the Lord” by meditating on His Word and through “Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls” (Psalm 42:7). The Waterfalls of the Holy Spirit surround and pour over us, the need is to feel and pray “to open our eyes that we may see”, like prophet Elisha prayed to the Lord for his servant (2 Kings 6:17).

“God is faithful” but are we and are we ready to be?  

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