“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only” (Matthew 17:1-8).
Peter, James and John were privileged to experience a foretaste of Heaven on earth when they saw Jesus in His glory. They probably did not understand what was happening, but they did realise that they were in a good place. Can we say that we are in a good place or do we only see gloom and despair?
A glorious place
Jesus only took His three closest followers up the mountain that day to experience His glory. How can we expect to find ourselves immersed in such a blessing as this if we do not spend time with Him? Maybe we only want a measure of the presence of God in our lives, so we ought not be disappointed if others seem to be blessed more than ourselves. “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8). We will not have continuous mountaintop experiences, but let us at least take up the opportunities the Lord offers us.
“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). For as Paul writes in Philippians 2:7, Jesus “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” The three disciples now saw Jesus gloriously transfigured before them. They saw the glory and majesty that was concealed from human eyes. To see Jesus must be a good thing. Moses desired to see what the disciples were seeing but was refused. “I beseech thee, show me thy glory”, but God told him, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live”, nevertheless he was permitted to catch a glimpse of God’s glory, “Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen” (Exodus 33:18, 20-23).
A great place
The disciples were obviously overwhelmed with the event unfolding before their eyes. They were in the presence of Moses and Elijah, but most of all they saw Jesus for who He truly was. This high mountain became a “holy mount” (2 Peter 1:18). They were witnesses to the discussion between Jesus, Moses and Elijah regarding His death for the sins of the world. They heard the voice of God the Father from Heaven regarding the person and ministry of His Son. This glorious vision did not slowly manifest itself but it literally burst on their sight, for they had just awoke from sleep. “Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him” (Luke 9:32). They were dumbstruck at the sight before them. “Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid” (Mark 9:5-6). Peter wanted to capture this glorious moment for all time. He thought that he could safeguard it for future use, but this was a one-off experience that he would keep in is heart. “For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (2 Peter 1:17). He knew that he was in a great place and wanted to exalt the Lord.
A good place
Why was it a good place? The answer lies in the fact that Jesus was there, and when the prophets left, Jesus was still there. It is a good place when we have our eyes fixed on the Lord. It is here that Jesus can touch us too with the peace only He can bring. “Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid” (Matthew 17:7) … “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
Seeing Moses and Elijah must have been a wonderful sight, but it was the vision of Jesus in His glory that was etched on their memories. They would never forget this day. Can we truly say that we only have eyes for Jesus? When problems arise or when pain afflicts us, do we lose sight of Him? His touch speaks of His abiding presence in our lives despite what might come our way. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5) … “lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). It has to be a good place if the Lord is there.
The disciple where in a glorious place, a great place and a good place because they were with Jesus. Surely this is the place in which “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Can we honestly say we are in such a place? If we are not, then it is not difficult to find, for all we have to do is look where Jesus is and go to Him.