Luke 9:33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters–one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)
A widow with four children wins a total home makeover – she’s speechless. A cancer patient is told that the experimental drug has worked and the cancer is completely gone. Tears well up and her jaw drops as she hugs the doctor. She cannot find words to thank him enough. How does one react when presented with something incredible?
Peter, James, and John had just witnessed something that very few humans ever see in this world. They saw the glory of God! Not that Peter was speechless, but we’re told he did not fully realize what he was saying. He correctly understood the goodness of being in the presence of Jesus and seeing his glory. This was a foretaste of the heavenly glory that all believers will one day experience.
However, he incorrectly wanted to make a permanent place for this full glory on earth, something that is not possible in this world of sin. He wanted the glory to remain, but it could not. The time for Jesus to continue in full and open glory and splendor had not yet arrived. First Jesus needed to enter into the full depth of his humiliation on the cross.
Upon the cross extended, Jesus displayed another kind of glory – a glory that fulfilled the will of his Father. That glory accomplished our forgiveness. That glory destroyed the darkness of our sin. That glory would ensure that all believers would one day live in the presence of God’s glory forever in heaven.
Just how does one respond to seeing Jesus’ glory? On this Ash Wednesday, will we have ashes placed on our foreheads? Will we promise to give up certain foods for 40 days (only to secretly or forgetfully partake a few days in)? How do we respond? Certainly there is nothing wrong with receiving ashes or giving up things for a time, but if we don’t know why we are doing that, we’re really missing the point.
Jesus gave up his life for us! He did this because he loves us unconditionally. What can we do but say, “Thank you!” Let us do so, as we share this great news and strive to live according to his Holy Word.