“And it came to pass…He (Jesus) took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as He prayed, the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment was white and glistening. And behold, there talked with Him two men, which were Moses and Elias (Elijah): Who appeared in glory,
and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.” Luke 9:28-30
It was a very momentous day when the Lord Jesus took Peter, James, and John, up in the mountain and was transfigured before them. It was an event concerning which the disciples were forbidden to speak for some time, probably because no one would have believed them if they told them what they saw. (Matthew 17:9) They must have been overwhelmed. Peter, impulsive by nature, spoke up to offer his suggestions. Notice that he spoke up “not knowing what he said.” And so it is with us at times when we are overwhelmed by a glimpse of the glory of God, or whether we feel overpowered by circumstances. We tend to “lean to our own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5) and come up with an assessment, an evaluation or contribution that just does not work because it is not of faith. Our natural tendency is to trust in our own thoughts rather than to seek to know Christ’s thoughts.
The more I read the scriptures, the more I believe that God is working through every circumstance in the life of the believer to bring that disciple to the place where he learns to trust wholly in Him. God is determined to make men and women of faith of us.
What is the primary obstacle to this? Idolatry.
What is the first of the ten commandments? “You shall have NO other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). We are born into this world rebels against God. We are selfish by nature. The greatest idol is Self. By nature we live for self, by self, to the glory of self. If there is one thing Christ teaches, it is that His cross has dealt a mortal blow to the “self” life. It is no longer to be worshiped or trusted. Jesus says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23) This is why Paul writes to the Philippians: “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and PUT NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH.” (Philippians 3:3) The Cross has dealt with the idol of self. Paul wrote to the Galatians: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
God does not need our good ideas. He does not need our help. His way is by the Spirit, according to His will, for His glory. Our response is to have one object of faith, Christ Jesus.
How can we do this?
Perhaps the answer lies in Wesley’s great hymn “O For A Heart To Praise My God”.
Let us do like Wesley and come before God to sing and pray these words:
“O for a heart to praise my God,
A heart from sin set free,
A heart that’s sprinkled with the blood,
So freely shed for me.
A heart resigned, submissive, meek,
My dear Redeemer’s throne;
Where only Christ is heart to speak,
Where Jesus reigns alone.”
So when we are overwhelmed for any reason may we not be like Peter who began speaking without knowing what he said. May we look to the One who is worthy of our trust, and hear what He will say to our hearts. Often it is very simple, brief, and very clear. In obeying His word we will KNOW Him and experience the blessed Life to which we are called. We will live by faith and we will live to love Him and love others.