Experience on the mountain of transfiguration was something that really revolutionized the Apostles. The Lord Jesus took Peter, James and John to the top of the mountain and transfigured before them. Three of the gospel writers narrate this wonderful manifestation. All of them refer to the time of this incident also. Soon after foretelling His death and resurrection, the Lord gives them a foretaste of His real glory. Cf. Matt 16: 21, 28. Before witnessing His agony in the garden of Gethsemane, the Lord wanted them to have a glimpse of His greatness. Matt 26:37
His face began to shine like the sun and even His clothes became white as light. The eternal glory Christ possessed but concealed under the cloak of humanity was shown for a while before these dear apostles. It was a spectacular scene that Peter was so stunned at it, not knowing how to respond. Mark 9:6. Similar unveiling of Christ’s glory is found again in Revelation chapter 1 when Apostle John was in the island of Patmos. Reve 1: 13ff
Though with fear and surprise, Apostles did enjoy the scene and the subsequent conversation whatever they could hear. Matt 17:4. No doubt this experience transformed their life and testimony. We know James was martyred very early, but John and Peter lived with this challenging incident for many years. By the end of their life, both of them referred to this mountain top experience in their epistles in order to authenticate their message. Cf. 2Peter 1: 16 – 18; 1John 1: 1 – 3; 4:14.
Let us consider four practical lessons from here for our spiritual life today.
1. The Lord wants us to have a clear understanding of His greatness. .
Read the story of this transfiguration from all three gospels, also go through other passages where the Lord unveils His glory, it is abundantly clear that He wants His people to know who He is. He is more than happy to reveal to us of His eternal credentials. Cf. Matthew 16:15ff; John 17:24 etc. It was the Lord Himself who took the apostles to the mountain of transfiguration. Matt 17:1
A firm understanding of His person and His perfections is fundamental for salvation as well as spiritual growth. John 8:24; 17:3. It is this growing realization Christ’s greatness that revitalizes and revives us in our spiritual service. Phil 3:10ff
2. A quite time with the Lord is indispensable for such an experience.
The Lord took them to the mountain top, away from all the busyness of the valley. No more crowd seeking after various needs. No more sound or other distractions of everyday life. They were alone with the Lord in a secluded place. Luke alone writes, there they went to pray. Luke 9: 28. It was there they had this revelation.
Often it is not among the multitude or in busy schedule we enjoy the Lord Jesus much. It is in the quite moments with the Lord we begin to hear that still small voice of the Spirit and behold His beauty and splendor. Remember the words of our saviour to Martha, “one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part...” Luke 10:42. She chose to spend time at the feet of Christ. Moses in the mountain of God, Apostle Paul in the desert of Arabia and apostle John in the isle of Patmos, they all had one thing in common; they enjoyed a special, intimate relation with God.
More than our activities and rhetoric the Lord Jesus enjoys our close communion with Him, knowing and becoming like Him.
3. Prayer changes one from within as well as without.
We should not forget, the transformation happened to the Lord Jesus Christ is not something He received then. For example Moses while coming back from the presence of God, his face was shining. Exodus 34: 29. He was reflecting the glory of God as a result of being with Him, it was passing too. Cf. 2Cori 3: 13. But the glory manifested in the person of Christ was His own glory being burst out through the humanity He possessed. He chose to hide His splendor and lived in the appearance of a normal man. Phil 2:8; John 17:5
One thing is very clear from this story as well as many others; close communion with the Lord transforms any individual. Remember the changes that happened to Hanna; ‘her face was no longer sad’. Cf. 1Samuel 1:10, 18. More than what the saints in the Old Testament period enjoyed, we can experience this glorious transformation through the Spirit of God as we commune with the Lord on a regular basis. cf. 2Cori 3:18.
In Romans 12:2, Paul exhorts believers to be transformed from within to be able to discern the perfect will of God. It is through intimate fellowship with Christ in prayer and meditation of His word alone one can achieve it.
4. Be careful with our casual attitude in spiritual life.
What a sad thing it is that apostles were sleeping even at such a wonderful occasion. Though woke up by the end of the manifestation; Peter failed to figure out the view properly. He didn’t know how to respond, so made a wrong suggestion which was immediately rebuked by God the Father. Cf. Luke 9:32ff.
Even later also they did the same thing! When the Lord told them to pray lest they fall in to temptation, they slept repeatedly. Cf. Luke 22:45ff
Taking prayer very casually and sleeping instead of pleading is disastrous. Both the times they reaped the consequences. Once they came down from the mountain they found weak and powerless. Luke 9:40. Peter faulted in his words and deeds. Luke 9:33; 22:50. All because of taking the blessed time of divine communion in a careless manner.
Do not forget we have a duty in the valley too. We need the strength of the Lord to face all the pressures of life. To fulfill our responsibilities well and withstand the evil forces we need to be charged with His grace and power. Any negligence in this area will be detrimental to our day to day practical life.
Let us go to the mountain top with Christ. It would be a wonderful experience. He is calling us to have a glimpse of His glory. Such a revelation will definitely transform and challenge us for a better Christian life ahead.
When Bishop Beveridge was on his death-bed, his memory so failed that he did not know even his nearest relative. His chaplain said, “Do you know me?” “Who are you?” was the answer. His own wife asked him, “Do you know me?” “Who are you?” was the only answer. On being told that it was his wife he said that he did not know her.
Then one standing by said, “Do you know Jesus Christ?” “Jesus Christ?” he replied, reviving as if the name acted on him like a cordial; “yes, I have known Him these forty years; He is my only hope.”