Theme: Listen to Him
In this week’s lesson we are told what to expect of God.
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.“
While 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!“
When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.“ When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
“As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?“
Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything, they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.
A lot of important things happen on mountains in the Bible, which means that we are not wrong when we recall these events and speak of “mountain top” experiences. The most dramatic example is the appearance of God on Mount Sinai, first to Moses at the burning bush (Exod. 3:1-4:17), then later to the nation when the law was given accompanied by such terrifying physical phenomena as fire, darkness, storms and thunder. lt was so frightening that even Moses said, “I am trembling with fear” (Heb. 12:21). It was on Mount Carmel on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea that God answered Elijah‘s prayer by sending fire to consume the sacrifice and even the altar which Elijah had constructed as a challenge to the false prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:16-40), that God appeared to Elijah on Mount Sinai too, as he had to Moses (1 Kings 19:8-18). Again, we can think of Satan‘s blatant temptation of the Lord Jesus Christ when he took Him to “a very high mountain“ and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, saying, “All this I will give you, if you will bow down and worship me” (Matt. 4:9). Jesus overcame Satan by reminding him that it was written in Deuteronomy 6:13, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only” (Matt. 4:10).
We come to another important mountain in this study. It is called the Mount of the Transfiguration, and it was the location of what was undoubtedly a “mountain top” experience for the disciples who were with the Lord on this occasion.
There were three disciples—Peter, James and John—and Peter was so impressed by what he had seen that he wrote years later,
We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son. whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.” (2 Peter 1:16-18)
There are times in the lives of most of us when we wish we could have a mountain top experience like that of these disciples.
There is much about this story that we do not know. We do not know what mountain this was, for instance. What we do know is that Jesus had gone up into the mountain to pray and that it was while he was praying that he was changed (Luke 9:28-29). “His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light” (Matt. 17:2). Luke tells us that Peter, James and John had been sleeping (Luke 9:32). We remember that the disciples later fell asleep in the same way in the garden of Gethsemane; when they woke up Jesus was being arrested. Here, when they woke up. they saw Jesus in his heavenly glory and Moses and Elijah talking with him.
Name some biblical “mountain top” experiences.
What did Peter have to say about his mountain top experience?
What do we know about the setting? What do we not know about this mountain?
What do you think when people have dramatic religious experiences now?
Pray that the Lord will speak to you in his way—through prayer and Bible study—this week.