Presence (Matthew 17:5-8)

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

The Father has said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to   him!” Seeing Peter, James and John fall over at the sound, “Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 

Jesus here models the priesthood of all believers in a most profound way; To be able to accurately reflect the divine character of God Most High, but to do so in a way that is encouraging, comforting and inspiring to those around us.  

Notice that Jesus does not abandon His disciples. Though His Father has spoken, and though He is with Elijah and Moses at the time, He identifies with His disciples when words from Glory are shared. He stays with them and in fact, even draws closer to them – even though they are literally knocked down by the conviction of the words from glory. That is remarkable, for it takes a remarkable amount of spiritual maturity to keep one’s focus on lifting up others when God Himself is esteeming you! 

The next verse notes this even more completely, “When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.”  Jesus chooses to persist with those who are unable to stand in God’s unfiltered presence. 

The ministry of presence is deeply comforting.

Notice too that Jesus touches them. His compassion for those He brought to the Mount of Transfiguration causes Him to reach out and physically encourage them. Even in the Father’s presence, Jesus does not reach out to touch the face of God. Rather, He reaches out to touch the shoulders and take the hands of those who have fallen before God. His touch gives us courage, as holding the hand of someone you love gives you courage when you are hurting. 

Further, Jesus imparts inspiration to those with Him. He says, “Get up”. A simple command that even a child can obey, but also an inspiration. For in His saying so, it is obvious that Jesus believes Peter, James and John can stand before God. In fact, He wants them to. He expects them to. He commands them to. 

Finally, Jesus does what all heavenly beings do when they see frail human flesh bowled over by the glory of heaven. He says, “Don’t be afraid.” He is there. They have no reason to be afraid, for He is for them. As the Word records, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” 

Truly, it is as the Psalmist wrote, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” 

This much we know: Jesus knows our frame. He remembers that we are dust. He is with us, to encourage, to comfort and to inspire us. 

Even when we are flattened by the holiness of the One we follow. 

God will meet you where you are in order to take you where He wants you to go.

Tony Evans

APPLICATION: Thankfulness

How good God is to us, that He does not leave us when we are in need, or in sin, or distracted, nor when we well know He has ‘better things to do’!