To come face to face with God, to hear His voice, is to come to terms with His power. In the Old Testament, an encounter with God struck fear and reverence with those who experienced His presence. Yet in the New Testament we have God born into flesh as Jesus, God among us. What was it like to see God in the flesh, to converse with Him. This is what His disciples were used to — seeing and speaking with God in the flesh.
However, Peter, James and John get a totally different picture of Jesus in John 17 when Jesus takes them up a high mountain. There on the mountain, “He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him (verse 2-3).” The disciples see Jesus as God and want to build tabernacles for Jesus, Moses and Elijah to honor them. Then they hear a voice out of the clouds saying, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him (5)!” When “the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified (6).”
The disciples no longer see Jesus just in the flesh, they see and hear Him as the son of God. They are stricken with fear as they grasp that this man they are following is God in the flesh. It is a moment we should also take hold of — to see and hear Jesus as God’s son; omnipotent, creator of all things, full of truth and righteousness — things we as mere human cannot touch. Yet here is the amazing thing in this passage. As the disciples cower in fear, face down on the ground, “Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid (7).”
“He touched them.” That is the amazing thing about this moment. When someone touches you, the contact is evident. You can feel it. It is a very human thing. This is a very vivid picture of Jesus for us. The son of God, face shining like the sun, garments white as light. Pure. Holy. Sacred. Worthy of honor and praise. Worthy of a tabernacle. A voice from the heavens that strikes fear in us. Yet he reaches out and touches us. Physical contact. Present with us to calm our fears, to show us the way. May you give Jesus praise and let him touch your life today.
© 2022, CGThelen