When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
Have you come to an experience where all that was left for you to see was Jesus? Every other person and sensation was removed – the company of faithful, the sense of glory, even the fearful display of the greatness of God – and you are left alone with Christ?
It is the great need of our hearts to be alone with Christ, to hear His voice calm our hearts and remove our fears. The heart of Christ could not keep Him away from these three disciples who were awestruck by the greatness of God, whose reaction in their flesh left them terrified. He came and touched them, returning their minds to the physical world, assuring them, comforting them.
The disciples on this occasion reveal to us how far from God our race has fallen, that His expression of love for the Son should leave us in such disarray. The journey we have toward personal holiness is still a long one. The full knowledge of the holiness of God is still a long way off for our race, even for those who have followed Christ for many years. How can we hope to traverse this distance? How dare we aspire toward spiritual maturity?
But then Christ comes to us, in His Word, by His Spirit, and touches us in our hearts. He tells us to rise, to put aside fear. The holiness and overwhelming greatness of God that seems so far off, it is our destiny in Him. We would do better to look into the sun with our naked eyes than to see the unfiltered glory of God in our flesh. But that will change one day, our flesh and our hearts shall be renewed. As Christ said, “Where I am there you may be also” (John 14:3).
Christ is given to us to lead us to God. His holiness is full, but His glory is muted somewhat so that He might come near to us, and teach us, that we might approach Him without fear. But by drawing close to Him, we are drawn into eternity. Here we doubt, we worry, we are fearful, we tremble even at the things that should inspire us. But the day will come when we will be brought into the glorious freedom of the sons and daughters of God (Rom 8:21).
John, who was one of the disciples on that holy mountain, wrote these words as the Spirit inspired him to:
1 John 3:2-3: Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
The great need of our hearts today is to listen to the voice of Christ speaking to us by His Spirit, to let Him reveal Himself to us, His love, His heart, His compassion, His fullness. And to know that the highest and greatest spiritual experiences we have in this life are at the best only a brief taste of the glory that we shall enter into with Him.
“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).