Daily Word

Awestruck with wonder | Matthew 17:4-8

4 Peter responded and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If You want, I will make three [ b ] tabernacles here: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice from the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell [ c ] face down to the ground and were terrified. 7 And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” 8 And raising their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.

Matthew 17:4-8 (NASB)

Peter’s response

In the last post, Jesus is transfigured before the three privileged disciples Peter, James and John. They get to see Jesus in His glorified state for a short time. This is the glorified body He has in Heaven; it’s no longer veiled (Philippians 2:5-8); it’s what our bodies will become like (1 John 3:2). He is talking with Moses and Elijah (representing the law and the prophets).

The Luke account (Luke 9:31) says they had been “overcome with sleep” and Jesus’ transfiguration caused them to be “fully awake”. So they’re all amazed, of course. Peter, acting in character, comes up with the idea to build tabernacles for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. This is undoubtedly a reference to the booths of Lev. 23:34–42 that were prescribed for Israelites to live in for the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles. Maybe he wanted to commemorate the moment. Maybe Peter thought they might camp out there for a while.

Awestruck with wonder

As Peter is unveiling this grand plan, suddenly clouds come and the Father speaks. They are awestruck with wonder. They now realize they are in the presence of a holy God. Not knowing what else to do, the natural reaction is to fall down in speechless worship. They are in the presence of God.

What did the voice of the Father say? “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!” For starters, what son wouldn’t love to hear these words from their father?! Second, “Symbolically, the appearance of Moses and Elijah represented the Law and the Prophets. But God’s voice from heaven – “Listen to Him!” – clearly showed that the Law and the Prophets must give way to Jesus.” (gotquestions.org)

Back to normal?

This event was indelibly marked in their memories. I’m sure we can ask them about it when we see them in Heaven. “The disciples never forgot what happened that day on the mountain and no doubt this was intended. John wrote in his gospel, ‘We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only’ (John 1:14).” (gotquestions.org) Peter also highlighted this event in 2 Peter 1:16-18.

Jesus then touches them and tells them to get up. The cloud is gone, along with Moses and Elijah. Jesus is back to His veiled body. Everything is back to normal. Or is it?

RЯeflection

  • I often like to imagine being in these situations, seeing them in full and living color with Dolby surround sound (so to speak). Then consider that this will be our experience one day in Heaven, in His presence. We can gain a taste of it here on earth during worship. Listening quietly and intensely to Handel’s Messiah does it for me. Reading Revelations, especially chapters 4 and 5 are also wonderful!

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