One of my favorite views from atop a mountain is Caesar’s Head State Park. From that lofty perch, one can see for miles around — down the mountainside, across the foothills and nearby valleys, rivers, and into distant towns. On a lucky day, one can look down and see birds seemingly floating with little effort. That’s on a clear day; however, on a cloudy day, all bets are off. One is lucky to see ten feet in front of one’s face.
One of the most majestic events in the life of Jesus was the night (?) he experienced what we, today, refer to as The Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36). It also occurred on a mountainside and there was a cloud involved in that event, but instead of obscuring vision, eyes were opened!
A week after Peter had correctly confessed Jesus to be God’s long-promised Messiah, Jesus took three of his disciples up a mountain to pray. While the three disciples battled fatigue, Jesus was transfigured (changed/transformed/metamorphosized) before their very eyes. His appearance became a stunning brilliance while conversing with two well-known heroes of the Old Testament, Moses and Elijah. As a cloud (God’s presence) enveloped them, the voice of God was heard to declare, “This is my son, my Chosen One. Listen to him.” After God’s voice had spoken and the cloud lifted, the only one left standing was Jesus. Moses and Elijah were gone.
There are many things about this indescribable event upon which we could focus, but I would have us zero in on just one: God’s voice and his message that Jesus is his son, his Chosen One, and that we should listen to him.
This declaration follows Jesus conversing with Moses (Israel’s greatest leader and lawgiver) and Elijah (Israel’s greatest prophet). They were representative of Israel’s collective history and calling as a nation. In this act, God declares Jesus to be the fulfillment of all he had been achieving through Israel up to that point in time. Israel’s history had been pointing forward to the person of Jesus, God’s chosen one. After God had spoken and the cloud had lifted, Jesus alone was standing. Moses and Elijah were gone to wherever it was from whence they had come. From that point on, God’s work would center on Jesus.
Putting it in language we better understand today, Jesus is God’s best revelation of himself and voice to mankind. This is not to say that God does not reveal himself to other cultures or those who are non-Christian; he does. But it does mean that Jesus, as God’s unique Son, is God’s greatest revelation of himself to us. Because of this fact, we are to listen to him, take what he says to heart, and obey him. As the writer of the gospel of John puts it, Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life.”
A missionary in the Czech Republic, who was reconnecting with a friend whom she had not seen for some time, was asked how her family was doing. The friend inquired, “How is your husband? How are the children? Are they obeying you?” In that culture, the same word is used for both showing respect and obeying. There is a connection between respect, listening, obeying and loving. To respect and love is to listen and obey.
The same is true in the Christian life. Jesus said on more than one occasion, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments/obey me.” Little wonder God has told us to listen to his son. Unless we listen to and comprehend what Jesus says, there no way we can reveal our love for God by obeying him!