He witnessed that stunning, blinding change in Jesus’ appearance and he heard the voice from above and experienced intense pain in his heart, when Peter, true to form and following his inbuilt Jewish instincts, wanted to memorialise the three, Moses, Elijah and Jesus, by constructing 3 sacred tents. And the awesome voice which must have exploded in their ears “This is my son, my beloved! LISTEN TO HIM!”
When, with their faces on the ground, and intense pain in their hearts, Peter and his two companions opened their eyes, the two prophets from the past had disappeared and there was Jesus alone.
After that fearful experience, dare they listen anymore to those greatly esteemed voices from the past? (or voices from any other for that matter). As the great John the immerser acknowledged, HE must increase, he – and all others, decrease.
Thus we find Jesus in all the scriptures, including the Old Testament texts. He showed this to the two despairing disciples on the way to Emmaus and then again to the spooked apostles. The law, the writings and the prophets – they are all about him! And now he is its interpreter. He alone.
We all have many esteemed voices floating around in our heads from well loved parents, friends, writers, preachers, teachers – and even prophets. But these must give way to Jesus’ voice only. He must take precedence. Other voices must decrease.
We are so prone to act on assumptions. We assume that the way we are doing things, serving God, going to church, running programs, what we have picked up over time, sampled from the smorgasbord of religion, is OK because countless people have travelled that road. But are these what he commanded? Are these what HE told us to do? Have we heard HIS voice? Are we listening now?
We must listen to him.
Imagine you and I were there climbing that mountain, following Jesus, wondering what this was all about. What next is going to happen? What is he going to do next? Why just us and not all the others? Who next will he upset? What new teaching will he give to shatter our illusions, change our course, renew our minds? What new wine will he bid us drink? What further claims will he make upon us? Where will it all end? Where am I going by following this man? What will I have to rethink next? What more long-held beliefs or precious traditions will I have to abandon? Where will he lead me?
We are still not used to this man who says the most extraordinary things, narrates the most explosive stories, makes the most stupendous claims, loves with such compassion and sovereignty, draws such interest, curiosity, inspires, heals all sicknesses, inspires true sacrifice, calms storms and walks on turbulent waters ….
Following Jesus closely is a life of surprises, the unexpected, the unfamiliar. No clichés. No formulas. No laws on stone. Our assumptions evaporate. Once experienced, all other alternatives appear shallow, pale, lifeless. We who have tasted his new wine, his sublime goodness are spoilt for anything less.
Lord, to whom else shall we go? Though challenging, only your words are the words of eternal life.