Unusual Glory (Matthew 17:1-4)

Photo by The Creativv on Unsplash

Everyone has circumstances, and everyone experiences circumstances. The  question the  believer has is, “Is God speaking through my circumstance at this time, and if so, what is He saying to me?” Those who know Christ know that God speaks to His people (for His sheep hear His voice), and He often uses circumstances to do that. Especially when we are hard of hearing otherwise. Sadly, God’s people often do not give appropriate thought to this matter. When that happens, we miss the whole point of what is happening around us, as Peter did when he, James and John were brought up the mountain by Jesus:

“Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.””

Peter was clearly thinking mostly of his own experience in that circumstance. He wasn’t thinking about what God was doing, or what Christ was experiencing, or about what the rest of the church (those with him – James and John) were experiencing. He was thinking about himself, and about how wonderful it was that he was able to witness and overhear Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus. He wanted his experience in the moment to continue. So he asked Jesus if it was ok to put up three tents, so that Moses and Elijah and Jesus might stay awhile longer. That doesn’t sound like evil or bad intention. It surely was not, but it was misguided. We know that because of what happened next.

“While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!””

The Father shows up and in a rather dramatic way speaks to Peter, James and John. He affirms that the voice to prioritize is not Moses’ or Elijah’s, but only Jesus’. Likely this is why what Moses and Elijah said at the time is not written in the Gospel accounts.

One cannot help but notice that Matthew had earlier told us how Peter had expressed that Jesus was the Son of the Living God – and had done so some time prior to this mountaintop experience. So we know that he knew who Jesus really was. Yet in some way Peter also saw Moses and Elijah as peers with Jesus. Most Christians make the same mistake. They assume that what the prophets and the Law say is equal to what Jesus says. But what Jesus says completes the prophets and the Law, not the other way around. Jesus does not negate them nor set them aside, and He certainly does not mean they are now valueless. But He does complete them. He is the fulfillment of them. Therefore, it is the voice of Jesus that we must listen to above all else

Most especially when our circumstances seem quite out of the ordinary. 

God knows exactly what it takes to get our attention, and often it is through highly unusual circumstances that we stand back and take note of what God is doing in our lives

Charles F. Stanley

APPLICATION: Intentionality

What is God saying to you through your circumstances?