“It is noticeable when we have been with Jesus. As the apostle Paul described it, through us God “spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.”
~~ Karla Worley, “Traveling Together”
“Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus. Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Matt. 17:1-5
A favorite summer memory from my Savannah youth group days took place every year as we made the trip to Sunday School week at Ridgecrest, nestled in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina!! What fun times and special God-moments we had together, traveling there and staying in the same house, with the same dear lady cooking for our group every year. Building memories and cementing our relationship with Christ — as sporadic as it can sometimes be as a youth, yet constant in God’s eyes. These memories are etched in all of our minds and I’m so grateful for those who invested in our spiritual development year after year, prank after prank!!
Worley continues to write: “In biblical times, those who worshiped in Jerusalem went up the great hill to the Temple. A worshiper left the Temple with the smell of worship clinging to his robes — charred animal flesh, smoke, incense, the smell of an ancient city. When we worship, we too, should go out with the smell of death clinging to us — the death of pride, of self-sufficiency, the death of sin. To those who confess “Jesus is Lord”, this is a welcome smell, it is the familiar smell of His presence. There is no fragrance clinging to us unless we have been in worship.”
Jesus invited Peter, James, and John to go with him up to a high mountain, to be alone. I wonder why He chose them? Can you imagine what was going through their minds as they witnessed this wonder of Jesus’ face shining like the sun, his clothes white as light, and then seeing and hearing Moses and Elijah?!? Of course, they wanted to capture this experience — to stay on the mountain soaking up Jesus, Moses and Elijah. Who wouldn’t? But what did the voice from the cloud command just as Peter spoke? This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to Him.” They were like – BAM!! – on the ground facedown, terrified because of the holy, awesome, reverent, presence of the Lord. “Then Jesus came over and touched them, and said “Get up – don’t be afraid”. He then told them not to say anything about what they had seen until he was resurrected. I’m sure, even like we who have the whole written account of history, they still weren’t getting it.
There’s a lot to ponder about this passage. Jesus sought out 3 of his disciples to witness and be part of this holy mountain experience — to be away from the others for a special time of revelation. And then, to hear THE VOICE OF GOD, when he said “this is my son — listen to him”, I’m thinking from that point on, they paid real close attention to anything and everything Jesus did and said. This experience, to me, encompasses what our worship experiences today can and should be. It’s not what we come together to do for God. It’s what He is seeking to do in us — personally. To seek His presence, his desire to reveal Himself, his power to transform, His holiness, and His instruction. He imparts Himself and his lifechanging presence to those who seek to know Him in a place apart from ritual and token worship. And that’s when He takes individuals who follow and listen to every word of the Savior, His presence clinging to their lives, transforming a church, and changing the world!