A Lenten Devotional from Seacoast Church


But even as he spoke, a bright cloud over-shadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.”
Matthew 17:5 (NLT)

Jesus often retreated alone to pray, yet on one particular occasion, he invited Peter, James, and John with him up a high mountain. While praying, his face began to shine like the sun and his clothes became bright white. Then two visitors, Moses and Elijah, appeared and began talking with Jesus about how he would leave this world.

The three disciples were witnessing this awesome display of God’s glory when Peter spoke up: “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.” Suddenly a bright cloud appeared around them with the voice of God saying “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” Matthew 17:5 (NLT)

Strong Reactions

In the Gospels, there are several times when Peter responds with a strong reaction. It was Peter who would firmly say he could never deny Jesus. It was Peter who would cut off a man’s ear in the garden as Jesus was betrayed. And here, it’s Peter who speaks up, offering to build shelters instead of just marveling at what they were witnessing.

He may have seemed impulsive, but it was usually confidence that comes from walking with Jesus. Perhaps one of his strongest reactions happened six days prior, when Jesus was telling his disciples that the Son of Man would suffer many terrible things and be killed. But three days later he would rise from the dead.

“As he talked about this openly with his disciples, Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter. “Get away from me, Satan!” he said. “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” Mark 8:32-33 (NLT)

In The Moment

Now on the mountain, Peter is witnessing heaven open up not long after that harsh rebuke from Jesus. Building shelters could have been his way of staying in that moment as long as possible, instead of anticipating the pain of what would come. So, when the Father said, “Listen to him,” he was confirming everything Jesus had said was supposed to happen.

Jesus was about to experience the hardest thing imaginable that he didn’t deserve. As the embodiment of God, he was about to trade his glory for humility and give up his throne for a cross. For a brief moment on the mountain, he got to experience heaven once again in his glorified body, and be reassured of who he is and what he’s meant to do. Like the time he was baptized, he again heard the voice of the Father calling him his dearly loved Son. Only this time, it was confirmation to his disciples that he is indeed the Son of God, the one true Messiah.

Hearing the voice of God, the disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground. “Get up,” Jesus said. “Don’t be afraid.” When the disciples looked up, the prophets were gone, and only Jesus remained with them. He didn’t start giving orders or teaching lessons. He simply told them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been risen from the dead.” Matthew 17:9 (NLT)

God's Point Of View

What a gift to witness, and what a responsibility to keep it a secret! To actually see the Son of God himself, transfigured before their eyes, with heaven opening, and then told to keep it to themselves. If word got out, maybe things would have been different for Jesus. As his fame and glory spread, perhaps he wouldn’t have to die. This would be a great outcome from a human point of view, but God’s point of view is so much better. Jesus dying was the plan all along, as it was the only way the Law and prophecies could be fulfilled and for God’s wrath to be satisfied. Peter, James, and John needed to understand this, because they were going to play an important role in sharing the Good News with the world.

Jesus’s death and resurrection means we will someday get to witness his glory in eternity, like those three disciples. Until then, we get to learn more about God through his Word, worship him with other believers, and speak directly to him through prayer. All of these things represent shelters to help us enter into his presence and experience his glory.

Yet he is inviting us off the mountain and into the valley where his plan for humanity will be fulfilled. The one thing we cannot do in heaven is introduce people to our Savior, because everyone there will already know him. Until then, since Jesus has risen from the dead, we don’t have to hide it. He wants us to tell everybody who he is and what he has done for us.

Share with friends


  1. What are some ways you tend to build shelters in your own life?
  2. How has your belief in Jesus been confirmed that makes you want to share it with others?


Dear God, thank you for all the ways you reveal yourself to us. Help us to listen for your voice, and follow your instruction, so that we may be a part of spreading the Good News.

The transfiguration is found in Matthew 17: 1-13, Mark 9: 2-13, Luke 9:28-36.

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