Thanks to Mark for this week’s notes. The passage can be read here on the BibleGateway site.
Every Cloud Has A God Lining
About a week after Peter had stated that the Lord was the Messiah, he, along with James and John, were taken up onto a mountain, generally thought to be Mount Hermon. Picture the Lord climbing a mountain under the heat of the Middle Eastern sun, his face and clothes streaked with sweat and dirt. Breathless he reaches the top and starts to pray. Suddenly, without warning, his dirty face and clothes change to a blinding white, a white as bright as a flash of lightning v29.
This would have been unbelievable and quite scary, yet it set the opening scene for the drama that was about to unfold.
If only the disciples had listened more intently whilst Jesus, Elijah and Moses ‘chatted’. They would have heard that Jesus’ death was going to be no accident but a ‘fulfilment’ at Jerusalem (v31). This might have helped encourage their belief and perhaps stopped them hiding in a small room after Jesus death.
It is hard to believe they fell asleep at such a momentous time, a reminder of how weak our bodies are. It would not be the only time they would fall asleep. Their human weakness would once again be seen whilst the Lord prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. (22:46)
Here we read that the voice of God spoke from a cloud. This was the cloud that signified God’s presence; the same cloud accompanied the Israelites and hung over the Tabernacle, signifying his presence in the wilderness (Exodus 40:34). And the same voice that spoke from heaven at both Jesus’ baptism and after his triumphal entrance into Jerusalem (John 12:28)
It’s interesting to notice that this cloud of God was nowhere to be seen during the Lord’s crucifixion. The loading of sin on his son meant God could not be there. His absence was shown by a different type of cloud. Clouds that covered the sun and caused darkness to cover all the land. There was also no voice of God, only a deafening silence from Heaven. There were no encouraging words to be heard, the Lord even cried out wanting to hear His Father’s voice.
We need to be similar to the disciples where we read in v32 ‘when they became fully awake they saw his glory’. We too, when we became Christians, caught a glimpse of his glory. The Apostle Paul says “you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day (his return) should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.” (1 Thessalonians 5:4)
As Christians we can now take encouragement from a cloud yet to appear.
Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”
You can’t conclude on a higher note than that!