And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. (Luke 9:29-32 NASB)
Peter, James, and John had gone with Jesus for a mountain prayer retreat. As Jesus was praying, the three apostles had fallen asleep. While they slumbered, Jesus had been transfigured, clothed in glowing white with lightning flashing around Him. He was joined by Moses and Elijah, also appearing in glorified fashion, and they were discussing the upcoming culmination of Jesus' earthly ministry.
The three men awakened to an astounding sight. Jesus, transfigured, standing before them in glory, accompanied by Moses and Elijah. We will see that the sight inspired worship, as it deepened their recognition and understanding of this Jesus they followed.
If they had only stayed awake, though, what inspiration might they have received? Jesus, Moses, and Elijah had been discussing the upcoming events that would take place in Jerusalem. Had the disciples heard the conversation, they might not have been caught off-guard when Jesus was arrested and condemned. Perhaps Peter would have understood what was happening around that fire on the night of the crucifixion and stood firm despite his fear. Perhaps they could have avoided regret and shame. And yet, they slept.
Their dawning recognition of Jesus, the Son of Man, as the holy Son of God was pivotal, but how tragic to miss an understanding of the plans Jesus had for them! How tragic to endure what might have been avoided by staying alert and on their knees!
We, of course, do essentially the same thing, week after week. Attendance at worship services should bring us into the presence of God Almighty and leave us changed in clear and discernible ways. How often, though, do we leave with comments about the sweet Spirit, but no recognition of that for which God drew us to the service. Words straight from heaven were spoken while the men slept, and they missed them all. We are also slumbering disciples in desperate need of arousing to the words of the Holy One. As we head to services this week, may our focus be on the One in whose presence we are, the words He has for us, and the change He longs to make in us. May we leave not just entertained but transformed into the likeness of our Lord.