Luke 9:28-31 (NIV) About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.
Jesus frequently went away from the crowds to pray, and He frequently took His disciples along with Him. After all, they were His disciples, His apprentices, and they needed to learn how He communed with the Father. When He tapped Peter, John, and James to go with Him that day, they didn’t think anything of it. They had no clue that this would be one of the most significant moments of their lives.
Jesus prayed as usual, but after a short time, the disciples saw a change in His form, and light began to pour from His body. They were seeing a brief glimpse of Jesus as He really was, the divine, eternal Son, shining in unearthly glory. This was similar to the vision of the resurrected and glorified Jesus that John saw in the Revelation (Revelation 1:12-16). And when the disciples saw Him like that, it filled them with terror and awe.
But before they had a chance to run away, or to even cry out, they saw that Jesus was not alone. He was speaking to two men who also shone with an unearthly glow, though not nearly so bright as the glory that was shining through Jesus.. They heard Jesus address the one as Moses, and the other as Elijah, and realized that these were the two ancient prophets, back from the dead!
The disciples listened in awe as they talked openly about Jesus’ upcoming journey to Jerusalem, and the suffering and death that were waiting for Him there. (They called it His “Exodus” in the Greek.) But, contrary to normal human expectations, none of them seemed to be horrified about what would happen there, but simply talked about it as matter of fatly as if it were a family picnic that was being planned.
Father, I know that this was a watershed moment for these disciples that they went back to again and again. (See 12 Peter 1:16-18 and John 1:1-3.) To see Jesus in His glory confirmed Peter’s confession of Him as the Messiah (Luke 9:20), and it provided a strong foundation that helped them to quickly find their way back to Him, and to help the rest of the disciples find their way back, in the wake of being scattered at the time of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. Even though they didn’t understand exactly what it was that they were seeing that day, after Jesus rose again, they started to understand. Lord, You have given me my own watershed moments, where You have shown me Your glory, and to which I can go back when times are hard. Thank You for Your love and grace. Amen.