I was preaching on the transfiguration on Sunday and was really struck by the application God makes of the events to the disciples. The disciples are in something of a turmoil; they are struggling to grasp what some of Jesus’ teaching mean, Peter has confessed him as the Messiah but has his own ideas about what that means and what the kingdom will look like and Jesus has had to rebuke him for that. And then Jesus defines discipleship as denying yourself, carrying your cross and following him. Ramping up the challenge so that turmoil is now even greater. There are so many competing voices, so many religious teachers with so many theories about the Messiah and where he will fit, what he will do, what his kingdom will look like, who comes first. But Jesus contradicts that.
It’s against that tumultuous background that Jesus deliberately takes 3 of the disciples up the mountain for his jaw dropping transfiguration. Where the veil of Jesus’ humanity is pulled back so they can see who he is; God the Son in all his splendour, so they see Moses and Elijah converse with him, and they experience the cloud of God’s presence and hear God’s affirmation of Jesus as his Son, whom he loves and with whom he is well pleased. And what is the application of all that? What is the take home? What is the ‘so what’ of this spectacular event?
God doesn’t leave them in any doubt; “Listen to him.” In the welter of competing ideas and theories and kingdoms tune everything else out, turn it down, and listen to Jesus. He alone is the Son of God speaking to you, so he knows what it means to be the Messiah, he knows what the kingdom looks like and how it comes. He is more glorious than any other speaker or any other voice, his words carry more weight and are more reliable. He reveals God’s will in a way no-one and nothing else does. So listen to him.
That is the everyday moment by moment choice every disciple faces, whose words will I live by? Whose words carries most weight, which speaker has the most glory and authority? Foolishly we can so often find ourselves giving our words the same weight as Jesus words when our kingdom clashes with his. We can end up giving the worlds words more weight as if it had more glory than Jesus words. What do we need as disciples when that is happening – we need a glory encounter. We need to be reminded that Jesus is the Son of God who alone has the words of eternal life so that we listen to him.
That has so many applications. We need to be reading or hearing God’s word frequently, but not just stopping there with the mechanics but seeking through it to have an encounter with the glory of God as we see Jesus. We need to ensure we are hearing his words and being led to see him when we listen to Bible teaching not just settled for being entertained – that means we want teachers who work hard too teach well enough that they get out of the way and show us Jesus. We need to be weighing every voice we hear and placing it under the authority of Jesus words, and that includes our own assumptions, plans and inclinations and well as the mantras of our society and the expectations of our friends and families. We need to be doing all those personally, as families, and as God’s people corporately daily. Because we will only follow Jesus, we will only seek his kingdom, deny ourselves and carry our cross if we see him in his glory so we give his words the weight they are due.