Matthew 17: “A Great Place to Be”

There have been many moments in my life when I could say, “This is a great place to be!” It’s typically with my family, and it typically involves weather that’s, you know, perfect. I can remember one such event when my wife and I met my in-laws at Atlantis in Nassau, Bahamas. I couldn’t tell you how we found this particular restaurant, but we were on the water, the sun was setting in front of us, the weather was perfect, and it truly was, “a great place to be.” The thing about great places is the fact they’re typically associated with great experiences.

In our reading today we come across one of those such events that would even lead Peter to say, “(v. 4) Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here!” The event was the Transfiguration and according to many scholars it was the event that began the end of Jesus’ life/ministry on earth. As I was reading the details of the transfiguration, I couldn’t help but look at it from the perspective of the three disciples who were there. Although there’s a lot of research regarding the spiritual significance for Jesus, and especially the connection between Jesus’ and Moses’ transfiguration in Exodus 24, lets consider the connection this moment had to Peter, James, and John.

Peter, James, and John

How incredible do you think it would have been to witness the transfiguration of Jesus? To see Jesus’ face shine like the sun, and his clothes become as white as light (v. 2). Peter, James, and John were privy to one of the most incredible moments of human history. If it wasn’t enough that they saw Jesus transfigured, they also saw Moses and Elijah; OH, and they also heard God speak! All in the same moment! But why these three?

Charles Spurgeon is quoted as saying, “These three were very special persons. Some say that Peter was one of them because he loved his Master much; that John was another because his Master loved him much; and that James was the third because he was so soon to die, the first of the apostles who should become a martyr for the faith of Jesus Christ.”

We find in the gospels many accounts that point to the importance of these three apostles. It was Peter, James, and John that Jesus took in the room to heal Jairus’ daughter, and it was these three who Jesus invited deeper into Gethsemane. We just read yesterday that six days before this event, Jesus looked at Peter and declared that the church would be built on his back! Talk about being in the right place at the right time.

We would tend to think that Peter, James, and John were just lucky, but it wasn’t about luck, it was about openness.

Be Open to His Glory

Peter, James, and John weren’t lucky, they were open. Open to follow Jesus no matter where he went or what he did. There’s a difference between those who are open than those who aren’t. If you’re open to all that God has for you, then you’ll be more likely to see Him move in glory and power. If you tend to stay farther away from the Lord, how do you expect to behold him in his glory?  I don’t know about you, but I want to be as close to Him as John was at the Last Supper. Scripture tells us that John was so close to Jesus that he literally laid his head on Jesus’ chest. If I can challenge you, stop hanging back and get close to him today!

I started today by challenging you to think about how incredible it would have been to witness Jesus’ transfiguration, but the real challenge is to stay close enough to Jesus not to miss those incredible moments. Are you walking close enough to Jesus today that he would invite you to join him on the mountain?