We are all familiar with this passage of scripture. Present at this amazing event were Peter, James, and his brother John. The witnessed the meeting of Jesus with Moses and Elijah. They heard the words.
They saw and heard.
Yet, as we find out later, after Jesus is seized in the Garden at Gethsemane, most, if not all of them fled. They were not where to be seen at the crucifixion. They were not particularly persuaded by the reports of the women and Mary Magdalene of the resurrection.
One has to wonder why. What more did they need to turn a belief into actual knowing?
They lived in a time when the mysterious, the mystical was thought as real as well, reality. Yet, all the Gospels tend to portray the disciples as fumbling, and confused. If we accept the Gospels, then this was far from the first inexplicable event they had witnessed. Healings, walking on water, multiplication of food, all these things Jesus had done before their eyes.
Yet here, they hear the very voice of God, they see the ancestors whom they have heard about from infancy. They see the evidence, yet, all too soon they return to doubt, doubt of their Master and what he proclaims.
We live in times where mystical experiences are pooh-poohed by the average person. We are trained to expect “tricks” to our seeing and hearing. The mind plays tricks on us we are told. It sees what I wishes rather than what is real sometimes.
We, children of the technological age are trained from infancy to determine causes. Nothing happens without a solid, identifiable reason we are told, even if sometimes we don’t have the capability to discern that cause.
We, we are told, will discover everything, given enough time. If something seems a miracle, well, trust that it just isn’t. If you have a vision, or a near-death experience, trust that you haven’t. It’s only wishful dreaming.
But faith requires that we do just as the modern world suggests we shouldn’t. We believe what we do not expect to prove in any tangible way. We believe because we simply “know” in ways far less dramatic than that experienced by Peter, James and John.
There is comfort here, for us. For after all, if they failed to accept that which was palpable to their actual senses, perhaps we can forgive ourselves for our doubts from time to time. We can cling in security to the promise that God’s love embraces our doubts, soothes them, and forgives them.
We cry out, “I believe, help my unbelief!” knowing that God hears and responds. For he did so for the befuddled disciples. He led them to great things, and so can and will do for us.