The Glory and The Garden
The Transfiguration pulled me in this morning (Matthew 17:1-8). As I was reading through the notes, I learned that this was not the only time that Jesus takes Peter, James, and John apart to pray with Him in scripture. He invites them to do so again: in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before His crucifixion.
Paralleling these two stories is humbling. In the first, Peter, James and John experience the greatest glory of God – Jesus is gloriously transformed, “his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.” Moses and Elijah joined the party too! Peter wastes no time in offering to build tents so they can stay. He is so eager to serve this glorious, brilliant God.
Jesus’ glory strikes them to the core. They are in awe and afraid, and in one of my favorite scriptures ever: “When the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.” His majesty captivates their hearts.
Now let’s travel a few chapters ahead to the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46). Again, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John away to pray with him, but it’s different. Jesus tells them “My soul is sorrowful even to death.” He asks them to keep watch and pray with him.
There’s no great glorious transfiguration. There are no saints singing from heaven. Instead, these disciples are invited into something much more intimate – the suffering, distress, and hurt of Jesus. And how do they receive it?
They fall asleep.
Jesus returns three times to wake them up, but it’s hopeless. The same God who was glorified in the transfiguration is asking his friends to sit with him in great suffering, and they’re not interested.
How often do I seek out the transfigured Jesus – the one who consoles me, amazes me, and answers prayers? Do I stop to spend time with the suffering Jesus? Or would I rather be asleep?
Our God is glorious – but He also suffers. There is so much sadness and hurt and death and pain in the Body of Christ on earth. And, just as the death of Lazarus hurt Him, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35). Let’s console Jesus, who invites us to be with him in the glory and in the sorrow.
Let’s show up for Him there.
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Jane Kennedy lives in Washington, DC. She is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and works in criminal justice reform. When she’s not working or writing, she’s probably catching up with friends on FaceTime, getting lost in Rock Creek Park, quoting C.S. Lewis, or trying to recreate Salt and Straw ice cream at home.