“Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory . . .”
The Christian life can be described many ways. One of my favorite descriptions comes from Thomas Merton (I think). He (I think) says the Christian life is principally about staying awake. I like that!
Think about it. Anti-Christian culture is trying to numb the disciples of Christ into a worldly, mammon-seeking stupor. Rather than an active life of pursuing holiness, we are constantly bombarded by ideas of luxury subtly creating in us the expectation of ease and comfort. Could anything be further from the truth? Opposed to the unholy hum of culture stands Christ with his counter-cultural kingdom and his counter-cultural life. And, oh how beautiful he is!
Luke 9 includes the story of Jesus’ transfiguration into his pre-incarnate state of unimaginable glory and splendor. I was reading it recently when one verse screamed at me from the page. I couldn’t escape the depth of what was lying before me. Peter and the disciples Jesus allowed to come with him up the mountain to pray almost missed something remarkable. Why? Because they were very sleepy.
We live in an insanely busy world. Our attention is always being demanded by various activities and people. Work places upon our shoulders immediate issues with more immediate deadlines. By the time we get home from work, our energy level is nearly gone. Yet, the concerns of family come rushing up to us with arms wide open ready to play. We get physical fatigue! And, wouldn’t we all agree that physical fatigue has on more than one occasion caused us to miss something?
If fatigue causes us to miss something physically, how much more has our physical fatigue caused us to miss something spiritually? I wonder how many have missed the Lord because he was not sought with fullness of heart? I wonder if I would’ve discovered the Lord’s strength more often had I not gotten tired of pursuing him and tried to accomplish my goals immediately on my own “strength” instead of laboring more in prayer. Is such an idea possible?
I believe the Holy Spirit simply indicated something in this text for me, that beholding the glory of Christ happens when I am “fully awake.” I don’t believe I can be fully awake unless I have been transformed from the patterns of this world into a Spirit-renewed mind. I don’t believe I am can be fully awake until I take seriously Paul’s words to think only on what is good, right, noble, and true. I don’t think I can be fully awake if I’m not seeking first His kingdom and righteousness.
In short, being fully awake is not so much a physical thing (though proper rest and care for our bodies is essential), being fully awake is a spiritual condition of the soul wherein Christ and Christ alone is the soul object of the heart’s affection. I believe then, and only then, will we, like Peter, see his glory!
I believe this experience for Peter was life-changing. I believe he may have pondered how his fatigue almost cost him a glimpse of Christ’s glory. I’m not saying he never felt fatigue or slumbered again because we know his story. But, I wonder if post-resurrection Peter, the one who was not only forgiven his sin but recommissioned by Christ, made strides here. I believe he did. Here’s what he says in 1 Peter 4:7
“The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert (wake up!) and of sober mind so that you may pray.”
The time for our gazing on Christ’s glory is quickly approaching. It’s not the time for sleeping, but for watchfulness. It is time for the body of Christ to be fully awake and, Lord willing, gaze upon his glory.