That it was meant to be a visual experience unlike any visual experience they had ever had is pretty obvious.
One moment Peter, John, and James are hiking the hill with Jesus and the next moment . . . BAM!!!! Lights on!
And [Jesus] was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as light.
(Matthew 17:2 ESV)
He who had “emptied Himself” of His eternal glory in order to be “born in the likeness” or mortal men (Php. 2:6-7), suddenly and unexpectedly undergoes a miraculous metamorphosis. Putting on, as it were, His true colors. And that color was white.
His face shining like the sun. His glory so emitting through His clothes that their whiteness was the very definition of light. “Dazzling light” is how Luke would describe it (Lk. 9:29). Radiant light. Like flashing lightning light. Blinding light yet, somehow, light that could be looked upon.
And the visual extravaganza didn’t stop there.
And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with Him.
(Matthew 17:3 ESV)
Don’t know how the three amigos knew the two guys suddenly standing with the radiant Jesus were Moses and Elijah, but they knew.
What a sight to behold. How do you respond to such a vision? Evidently not the way Peter did.
And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for You and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, 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.”
(Matthew 17:4-5 ESV)
Think about it. There’s Peter before the glorified Jesus. There he is looking at Moses and Elijah. And he makes it about himself. “How cool is this for us! I, me myself, should do something!”
And, as if there wasn’t enough light on that hill already, “a bright cloud overshadowed them.” A cloud itself composed of light. The sort of cloud Moses had become extremely familiar with. The kind of cloud that hovered over the tabernacle when the glory fell. And the Father intervenes, putting a stop to Peter’s well intentioned, but inappropriate, lets-make-it-about-us response.
You’re seeing the glory of My Son here, My beloved Son. The radiance of My glory. The exact representation of My being. Be still. Be quiet. Listen to Him. Listen to Me.
Sometimes God gives us an unexpected look simply so that we might listen. Encountering the glory, not that we might know how good we have it, but how great our God truly is. Not so we can busy ourselves to respond with acts of piety for the privilege extended to us, but that we might quietly take our place at the Master’s feet so that He might be the sole center of our attention. At His feet where we take in His word (Lk. 10:39). At His feet where we pour out the perfume of adoration and worship (Jn. 12:3).
Look and listen. Sometimes that’s what the light’s for. Not to process and perform. Not to decipher and do. Not to take in and then put out. But just to be still and be attentive.
“Go, lie down, and if He calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.‘”
(1Samuel 3:9 ESV)
Look and listen.
By His grace. For His glory.