Mount Tabor is the traditional site of the Transfiguration of Jesus. (Personally I think it happened on Mt Hermon, which is farther north, just beyond Banias).
It doesn’t matter where it happened, but that it did happen! The sight of Tabor from a friend’s home in the hills above Tiberius is mesmerizing. It’s hard to look at Tabor and not ponder what the disciples actually witnessed there.
I wonder why we so rarely talk about the event that obviously shook the disciples to their very core as Jesus revealed His glory to His most trusted friends.
Consider with me the magnitude of that special gift of God’s love and mercy. Moses had asked to see God’s glory and was told ”No one can see My face and live.” Yet miraculously, God has allowed us to behold His glory through Jesus, His Son! And by His grace through our faith, we are partakers of His image!! As sons of the Most High God we are being transformed from glory to glory.
Often I stand in awe, watching the glory of the sun rise and set over that mountain, while trying to imagine the greater glory of its Creator.
But dear friend, in order to see that glory we, just like the disciples, must climb our mountain of transfiguration.
The mountain is very high and the road extremely steep, full of hairpin turns and twists. Even driving up is a chore as rocks and trees make the way dangerous. It is no place for extra baggage or burdens. Everything must be left at the bottom.
It’s not easy to climb Tabor. It has a cost. The same is true about climbing the mountain of God’s glory. There is a cost to follow Jesus. Before we can even begin the climb it’s best to remember that humiliation comes before glorification. Jesus said that He had to go to Jerusalem, suffer, be killed, and then raised. He warned us that if we love Him, we must pick up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow Him.
Dear friend, that mountain wasn’t easy to drive up. Imagine what it would be like climbing while carrying a heavy cross. Yet Jesus also said, “My yoke was easy and My burden is light.”
Tabor is both a mountain of transfiguration and promise! We must not fear the climb because we have the promises of beholding Jesus in all of His glory – the glory He had with the Father and which He has returned to. That glory will one day cover the earth, the glory in which the things of the earth pale.
There are so many issues which cloud our vision of Jesus. We want to hold onto Jesus, but sometimes only with one hand. In the other hand maybe we still hold on to our traditions, culture, and heritage. Or we might be grasping at plans and dreams for the future.
Both the past and the future met at the Mount of Transfiguration as Moses and Elijah stood and talked with Jesus. Moses, perhaps, represents the traditions of man and ways of our past lives, while Elijah could represent our expectations and hopes for the future (Malachi 4:5).
Like Peter, James, and John, we try to incorporate the past and the future into our present life with Jesus. We look back to precious experiences in the past or forward to an imagined future instead of finding all our satisfaction simply in the presence of Jesus.
Beloved, we MUST listen as God tells us to leave our pasts and our future to Him. As Paul said, “What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ … that I may know Him” (Philippians 3:7, 10).
The stripping process begins at the bottom of the mountain only to be completed at the top. As the Israelis say, ” liat liat” (”slowly slowly”). We will see the fullness of God’s glory in the face of Christ Jesus as we empty ourselves of any and everything that may impede our vision.
Seeing the Glory: I believe that seeing and experiencing the glory of Christ Jesus will transform ours lives and the lives of all those we meet. Paul’s vision of the glory enabled him to call his afflictions ”light.” This is critical to us since the word is clear that even the righteous will suffer. So we need to set our hearts and minds to climb the mountain.
But make no mistake, it will cost us everything: our identities, our plans, our dreams. Perhaps it’ll even cost our friends and our family (Matthew 10:34).
But we must take heart and be of good courage. The mountain of transfiguration is one of hope and promise… because Jesus is there! And He is with us as we climb the mountain.
The Vision: While meditating on these truths, I saw a picture of the Body of Jesus in all His glory -people from every tribe, language, and nation- climbing up the mountain together.
As we climbed, we changed positions from single file to side by side.
It was too dangerous to climb in a line. When the front person stumbled, those in the back fell as well. But climbing shoulder to shoulder, the stronger were helping the weaker as they climbed higher as one unit.
As she climbed the Bride became more glorious, making herself ready to meet Her Bridegroom/King.
May we remember to press on to maturity, being intolerant of any sin in our presence, but reaching out to bring comfort, healing, and encouragement to one another. We must keep our eyes fixed and focused on the goal: being transformed into the image of Jesus.