Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters– one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. (Matthew 17:4-8 NIV)
What would you do if God showed up and filled your house with a bright cloud? What would you feel if He spoke to you out of that cloud? What if you were absolutely certain this was God’s presence and He was something beyond anything you had ever imagined?
I think I would be face down on the ground with an understanding of worship that I had never had before. Despite my relationship with Jesus I can only imagine being terrified. All my doubt and all my sin would be magnified until I could get my eyes focused on Jesus. I would be looking for Him, that is for certain. If I am really honest, I can identify with the disciples’ emotional and physical response. They are in the middle of a spiritual mountain top experience like no one had ever experienced before or since. When Peter expresses an inappropriate response, God interrupts and puts thing right. God’s instruction is simple; listen to Jesus. There will be other voices but listen to Jesus and do what Jesus’ says.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10 NIV)
I think I am beginning to understand what this means. I need a starting point in my pursuit of wisdom, in my desire to understand what life is all about. Everything in my life must start with God. The starting point is a recognition of who God is and who I am. He is God and I am not. His power is infinite and mine is finite and small. His character is the definition of purity and I am anything but pure. I could keep going and the idea is that when I compare myself to God without Jesus in the picture, I should be terrified.
Now the cloud disappears and there is Jesus standing in front of me looking just like me. There is no longer any supernatural brightness. Before I even look up, when my eyes are still focused on the ground, Jesus reaches out and touches me. The touch is gentle and reassuring. When He speaks I listen because I hear the words of God His Father, “Listen to Him.” What He says first is amazing, “Do not be afraid.” I am accepted and I am loved. Love is the end of wisdom; it is the result of starting with the fear of the Lord and following Jesus to the cross.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18 NIV)