Peter, interrupted

August 24, 2013 admin

landscapeWhile 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!” (Matthew 17:5).

Tourist guides in Israel are unsure on which mountain the Transfiguration of Jesus occurred.

But the majority position is in support of Mount Tabor. It is the highest peak in the area – a 600 meter vertical climb – with a stunning view of the region of Galilee.

Today, Bedouin drivers navigate the winding, hair-pin turns to move tourists up and down the site at break-neck speed in Mercedes limos. (Our driver assured us the vehicle’s brakes were changed of necessity every 20 days – we rode with him, somewhat anxiously, on day 19.)

But the 1st century scene was much different.

During the Transfiguration, Jesus permitted Peter, James and John to witness a momentary glimpse of His glory: “There He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light” (Matthew 17:2). Suddenly, they were then joined by Moses and Elijah. The experience must have been momentously unforgettable – an opportunity shared by no one else.

Although clearly overwhelmed by the incident, Peter – never totally at a loss for words, or grand ideas – offered to erect commemorative structures for the 3 dignitaries present. But while he was still explaining his plan, a bright cloud enveloped them and the Father interrupted.

The unembodied Voice of God provided instruction on essential doctrine about the Saviour:

  • “This is my Son” provides the foundation to our understanding of Jesus as the eternal Son of God. Together with other significant NT passages, we understand Him to be equal to, and of the same essence as, the Father (John 1:1,2; Colossians 1:15,19; 2:9; Hebrews 1:3). He was therefore unlike any other man; He is transcendent, pre-eminent. And His contemporaries understood His assertion of equality with God (John 5:18; John 10:33).
  • “whom I love” demonstrates that although God loves the world, the Son is loved of the Father in a unique, exceptional and most-intimate manner.
  • “with Him I am well-pleased” reminded the disciples that the Son was the greatest source of delight to the Father.
  • and consequently, they were – and we are – to “listen to Him”.

Takeaway: since the 1st century, those seeking to twist the Christian faith have attacked the essential identity of Jesus, subtly diminishing Him in some way. Is my perception of His unique Person – fully God and fully Man – clear, consistent, and most critically, Scriptural?