So, . . . I think I’m pretty good at maintaining a confidence when I’m asked to. Tell me to keep something a secret, and I’m thinking I’ll be able to do that. But aren’t there some things that would be next to impossible to keep to yourself? Things so wonderful . . . or so profound . . . or so out-of-this-world, that you’d just need to let it slip to someone . . . otherwise you’d burst? I may have just read about one of those things. And Jesus told the disciples who were with Him, “Tell no one.”
And after six days Jesus took with Him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with Him. . . . behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. . . . And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” (Matthew 17:1-3, 5-6, 9 ESV)
Okay . . . noodle on that for a bit. Take just a couple of moments to enter the “imagination station” and try and picture what that hilltop experience must have been like. Seeing the Christ, the Son of God, in all His heavenly, majestic glory. Face shining like the sun. His very being radiating with a white that defines light. Beside Him, two others. And, I could be wrong, but neither of them are wearing name tags that say, “Hello, my name is Moses,” or “Hi there! I’m Elijah.” And it’s pre-Facebook and LinkedIn, so it’s not like there are a lot of photos of them floating around. But somehow you just know who they are.
And though he wasn’t so gauche as to ask for their autographs, Peter probably steps out of line a bit by thinking that he could somehow contribute to this divine reunion. That’s when the glory really comes down . . . literally! A cloud overshadows them. A cloud full of light (can it get any brighter on that mountain top?). A cloud reminiscent of the cloud that hovered over the tent of meeting in the wilderness. A cloud just like the one that filled Solomon’s temple. The glory of the Son had already been manifest, now the glory of the Father envelopes everything.
And from that cloud, a Voice. One that they had never heard before, but One that they recognized immediately. “This is my beloved Son, with who I am well pleased; listen to Him.”
Facedown time! With that much light, all they could do was close their eyes and hit the ground in awestruck amazement. Talk about your encounter of the divine kind!
And, after the lights have gone out and the guests have gone home, they head down the hill and Jesus says to them, “Tell no one.” Really? No one? How do you keep that to yourself? You’ve just witnessed the most amazing display of heaven on earth . . . seen things that no one has seen . . . heard things that no one has heard . . . and you can’t tell a soul.
Now I’m sure that Jesus had good reasons to require such secrecy until after He rose from the grave. But I’m stuck on how you keep such glorious revelation to yourself.
For now, the vision was for their eyes only. The wonder was for the three of them to share only among themselves. The vision of heaven’s glory, the thunder of God’s voice, was theirs alone to meditate on. And it would have a life transforming impact upon them. Part of preparing them for a time when Jesus would ask them to go public. For a day would come when they would tell the world.
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with Him on the holy mountain. (2Peter 1:16-18 ESV)
But for right now, as they walked down that hill trying to process all that they had seen and heard, they were to tell no one.