No Need to Hide

The transfiguration can be understood as a fulfillment of Jesus’ previous word that some would see him coming into his kingdom. Before Peter, James and John, Jesus shone like the sun and his clothes became white like light. Elijah and Moses also appeared with him. When a cloud enveloped the three disciples, a voice informed them that Jesus was his beloved son, then the disciples fell down in fear. However, after Jesus touched them and they looked up, Jesus was alone with them. His first words to them were not to be afraid. A similar response is seen in Revelation, when John encountered Jesus standing in the middle of the lampstands. When John fell down as a dead man, Jesus touched him and told him not to be afraid. Throughout Scripture fear is a common response to God’s presence in our lives. While the sight is obviously overwhelming, Jesus’ common response to the disciples not to be afraid reminds us that it is not necessary or even pleasing to God for us to fall down in fear at his appearance. Moses and Elijah also had similar responses when they encountered the presence of God. Although they did not fall down in fear, they did hid their faces. We need to remember the type of fear that the disciples exhibited is not the same as what we are taught in Scripture as “the fear of the Lord”. “The fear of the Lord” refers to respect and honor, which are appropriate, but not terror which overwhelms us and our strength abandons us. Although it may be a normal reaction for us to be overwhelmed and fearful in the presence of God, we should remind ourselves that Scripture teaches us that perfect love drives out fear. While it is appropriate to fall down in worship, fear has no part of that worship. In other words, because of Jesus’ great love for us there is no longer any need for us to hide ourselves from him. Fear and shame have been defeated!

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