Seems like maybe there was a bit of a pattern forming. Jesus retreats with His disciples to pray . . . and, while He communes with the Father, they sleep. I know it will happen in the garden (Matt. 26:36-45), and, as I’m reading in Luke 9, it happened on the hill, too. On that mount Jesus prayed and the kingdom of God came down . . . literally (9:27). Jesus’ countenance is altered . . . His raiment glows an ethereal dazzling white . . . He is transfigured in appearance . . . a foretaste of that day when He will come “in His glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (9:26). And the disciples slept.
And then two men appear talking to Him. Identified as Moses and Elijah, they also appear in a glorious state. The men who most embody the Law and the Prophets talk with Him who is the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets (Matt. 5:17, John 1:45). Though the night is dark, the mount is lit up . . . the light of heaven itself . . . the glory of the kingdom manifest. And the disciples slept.
And the three speak of Jesus’ departure (9:31). That word departure it literally “exodus.” Moses and Elijah, in their heavenly glory, met with Jesus, who shone with His coming again glory, and they talked about His exodus. Not a departure that would happen to Him, but the exodus “which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” This departure was not that of leaving the earth, His ascension would follow resurrection. But the exodus of death. For all that the incarnate Son had experienced as flesh and bone, He had not yet experienced “the valley of the shadow” (Ps. 23:4). O’ to have been privy to that conversation.
What did Moses and Elijah speak of? What “real life” experience did they relate . . . what heavenly insight did they offer? Did Moses speak of God’s presence as he was buried outside of the promised land? Did Elijah speak of God’s power as he was transported from the earth to heaven in a whirlwind, escorted by chariots of fire? Or were they the ones listening? Did Jesus speak of His exodus in the fullest sense . . . though not knowing exactly what the death experience would be like, knowing that through it, His Father would allow Him to lead many captive to sin and death out of bondage and into glorious life? I don’t know. I wasn’t there. But the disciples were . . . and they slept.
But eventually slumber gave way to wakening . . . the darkness of eyes closed became the bright shining light of eyes opened. And when they were fully awake and saw the glory . . . not knowing quite what to say, . . . Peter says the obvious, “Master, it is good that we are here.” Ya’ think?!?
Jesus could have counseled with Moses and Elijah alone. Instead He purposed to bring Peter, John, and James with Him . . . that they might see the glory . . . that they might be eyewitnesses of His majesty . . . that they might sample the power of the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ (2Peter 1:16). And though Jesus’ spirit was willing, the disciples’ flesh was weak . . . and they needed to sleep. But, in His grace, He would not let them miss the glory. And though they didn’t know what to say . . . and perhaps said too much . . . they encountered the Son as He would be at His second advent . . . and they heard the voice of the Father delight in the Son . . . and they learned something of the glorious preeminence of Messiah.
Jesus invites me to accompany Him to places where His glory might be known. And sometimes, maybe too often, I’m snoozin’. Though I want to be there . . . sometimes the flesh wins out and I’m found napping. But thanks be to God who, according to His abundant grace, and through His indwelling Spirit, awakens me to the light of the glory of Christ and of His gospel. And at times like those, what can you say but, “Master, it is good that we are here!”
For His glory . . . amen?