I find it interesting that we have a general discomfort when we encounter glory and that we often respond by attempting to control it. One way to define glory is to say that it is the manifestation of the presence or nature of God, which is naturally displayed in countless ways through the things he has made. But no matter how beautiful and awesome these things appear, there is something in them (or more accurately in us) that makes us want to turn away or even gain control over them in some way. Think of the beauty of nature, a sunrise, a waterfall, a mountain and how we often respond to seeing such things. Even though they demand our complete attention we are not content with submitting to them in that way. No, we have to turn from them, distract ourselves, or try to capture them for ourselves by taking a picture. Or think of a wedding – being confronted by the beauty and glory of two people committing to each other, of two souls becoming one. Do we not put a great many distractions around it to enable us to turn away, to keep us busy with details? There is the venue, the flowers, the music, the food, the people, the decorations – a seemingly endless list of things to hold our attention so we do not have to confront the glory shining through the thing itself. We will even afterward judge the wedding based off those peripheral details. What I am trying to get across is that it appears that there are two options for us when we encounter glory, we can simply enjoy it, or we can turn away from it by ignoring the claim it is making on us, and it seems that for whatever reason, we prefer the latter.
And Jesus was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. -Matthew 17
Look at this passage; is this not what Peter is doing? Is he not trying to distract himself from the glorious being in front of him? Is he not trying to regain the upper hand in some way, to obtain control? How uncomfortable it is to behold glory – it makes us feel our inadequacies, makes us confront our smallness. And if we feel that discomfort with the glory we see in nature and other humans how much more will we feel it when we come face to face with the one who created those things, who upholds those things, who sustains and wills on those things by his great power.
The reality of the situation is that he has given us a way to see his glory, at least in part. For what is the great glory of God if not that though no man can comprehend him, he comes down to us and reveals himself to us, leaving a record behind so that all could see him. There are many ways you can turn away, trying to explain away what happened, questioning the legitimacy of the record, degrading the moral nature of Jesus, or simply ignoring the things he said while associating yourself with Christianity. It is what, as humans we are prone to do. But make no mistake that each of these is born out of a desire to remain in control, to remain above the God-Man in some respect. There are only two options when encountering Jesus, we must either completely and unashamedly worship him as Lord, or turn away from him. There is no middle ground here. And while this worship will include more than this, it at least involves a person giving up trying to control his own life and allowing Jesus to make him into the being He would have him be. To start this we must trust him, take on his worldview, and obey him.