How to Apply the Transfiguration

We are passionate for application.

Bible studies encourage it. Sermon classes teach it. And society clamors for practical, useful information in the forms of 3-easy-steps to this, and 5-rules for that, and 7-surefire-ways to the other.

But as hard as you might try, you will not find practical instruction or 3-easy-steps to anything in the gospel account of the transfiguration of Jesus (Mark 9).

Perhaps this is best.

Perhaps Peter was succumbing to the worship of the practical rather than worship of the Lord when he suggested that he build tents for Elijah, Moses and Jesus. Any camper knows that erecting a tent is not easy. But there are steps. There are instructions. There is an identifiable end-product to the work of your hands.

Confronted with the reality that this vision of Jesus’ grandeur left him knowing nothing to say and nothing to do, Peter resorted to a default position: I’ll do something. Make a list. Gather materials. Assign tasks. Measure results.

But being in the presence of the glorious Lord does not lend itself to merely practical activity. Isaiah wound up answering the call of God when he said “Here I am. Send me!” but this was only after Isaiah had taken in the glory of the Lord. And he did not initiate his own ideas of appropriate response to the glory of God, but responded to God’s direction.

Practical activity will follow appropriate worship. James says, after all, that faith without works is dead.

But sometimes it is not yet time to do. Sometimes is it appropriate to be, with God.

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