Oh to be a fly on the wall for that one!
But it wasn’t only the company that stunned the three disciples. Jesus reflected some of the heavenly glory that one day John would see again and that one day we will all see. The text says that, “His face shone like the sun, and his clothes as white as the light” (17:2, cf. Revelation 1:12-16).
Still, the event was not complete. From the heights of heaven came the voice of the Father: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (17:5).
Now, completely overwhelmed, the disciples fell on their faces. They were terrified. Terrified! As anyone in their right mind should be when coming into a close encounter with God.
Then Jesus touched them and told them not to be afraid. When they looked up, “...they saw no one except Jesus” (17:8).
How many times have we heard messages about this particular passage of Scripture? No matter how many times I hear the message, it seems like I inevitably need a refresher course. I needed one yesterday when I lost divine perspective. People, injustice, frustration, anger, despair, all rushed in, bent on destroying that God’s-eye view of life. I almost lost it.
Then I remembered to see no one except Jesus.
If I could have a mountaintop experience with Jesus every few days such as the one described in Matthew 17, it would be easy to maintain the correct perspective. That’s probably why Peter wanted to build some huts and stay on the mountain with Jesus, Elijah and Moses (17:4). However, not only couldn’t they stay there, Jesus told them not to even talk about what they had seen (17:9).
The spectacular was not what they needed to see, to remember, to rehearse, to exult in. They needed to see Jesus and bask in His presence among them. We can’t live in past glories, we have to embrace present realities. The Lord Who said: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5) IS that present reality.
I can’t count on someone else to show me Jesus. There is no intermediary who can do that. No pastor, no church service, no Bible teacher, or any spectacular experience can successfully model Christ or adequately speak of Him in such a way that I will see Him as I need to see Him. Others will not see Jesus in me—or you. They may see a pale imitation, but it is only through a direct encounter between Jesus and me that I will truly “see” Him—as much as that is possible in this life. There are no substitutes.
And it is only when you and I “see” Jesus only, above and beyond all the garbage of life, and constantly look to Him, that divine perspective can be maintained in an evil world.
Look around and you will see Him. The Scriptures declare that, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard” (Psalm19:1-3). In every nation, among every language group, God is talking. The Almighty is making contact.
The Scriptures are His-story, through which we can learn about Him and from Him. They reveal Him to us.
The Holy Spirit speaks. All we need is the will to come apart and listen.
He invites us to see Him: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you...” Jeremiah 29:13, 14.
Oh Lord, help me to look for you with all my heart. I need to see you, Jesus. I need to see You alone.