I’ve been working through the Gospel of Mark and have come to the Transfiguration, which reads:
9 And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.
2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.
5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
7 Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.
11 And they asked him, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”
12 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? 13 But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him.”
When I was struggling with faith as a teenager, I would ask why God didn’t reveal Himself as powerfully to every generation as He did to the Israelites? Sure they rebelled but would they had if the Cloud and Pillar of Fire spoke audibly to them as God did to Moses? Wouldn’t they believe and obey? Wouldn’t we? Why choose a peasant blue-collar worker from a hick town in a backwater province of the Roman Empire? Even if He did choose to reveal Himself in Jesus, why not as the grand king as He appears here at the transfiguration?
When I worked in Hollywood I spent time working for legendary songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. When I went to work for them it was just a job for a couple of old songwriters. I got to know them and we became friends. I came to like them very much.
However, if I had known from the beginning that these guys hung out with Elvis and were worshipped by The Rolling Stones and Tom Petty, I would have babbled in their presence like Peter babbled in light of the transfiguration. I would have been too nervous to have had a real relationship with them.
I think that’s why God chose to reveal Himself in Jesus as well. If you believe in a God so awesome that you cannot begin to comprehend Him and live in fear of Him, you may believe and obey but you won’t necessarily love Him. You will do what you do for Him out of fear instead of trust and heart-felt loyalty.
I was that way once. I was afraid of God as a teenager. I couldn’t “keep the rules” and was terrified of being cast in to hell. I began to resent that God and eventually to walk away from Him. But when I came to faith as an adult, I came to know the God-man who walked the earth, was tempted, abandoned, mocked, beaten and murdered. The God who reached out to me did so with scarred wrists. I came to love this God and as I grew in my knowledge of Him, I came to know Him as king as well. But because I already loved Him, I wasn’t afraid, I was just in awe.
Where are you?
One day every knee will bow before Jesus Christ. Most people will do so out of fear but some people, like me, will do so out of awe steeped in love.
Which one will you be?