Luke 9: 34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.
Clouds can be quite beautiful; lying on the grass staring heavenward on a summer day, or perhaps as you see them close up from an airplane window. But those same atmospheric aerosols can be a nightmare for mountain climbers. According to MetLink (the Royal Meteorological Society), every year climbers scale the mountains of the UK to enjoy their wonders only to experience misery and sometimes even death. One such hazard in mountain climbing is clouds. Mountaintops are often hidden by clouds, which can form very quickly, and climbers can become hopelessly lost due to lack of visibility. Clouds can also be “supercooled” where the water remains as a liquid even though the temperature is below freezing. These droplets freeze when they hit the ground creating a thin layer of ice (known as rime), which obviously creates added treachery in the darkness of the clouds.
In today’s scripture from Luke 9 we read the wonderful story of The Transfiguration, where Jesus’ personal appearance was changed into a glorified form, and Moses and Elijah appeared. Symbolically the appearance of the latter two represented the Law and the Prophets. God’s command: “Listen to Him [Jesus]!” showed that that the Law and Prophets must give way to Jesus. While this seems to make sense to us today, on that day poor Peter, James and John felt nothing but fear. “While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.” Luke 9:34.
Few of us will experience the danger of “mountain weather” clouds, but as for metaphorical clouds, we can be certain that we will face those often during our time on earth. There are days and even seasons where we may feel in the dark, in the clouds, and we may feel confusion or perhaps even fear like the three disciples did on the mountain.
It is interesting to note that Jesus’ presence is often associated with clouds. When Jesus’ return is prophesied, we hear that he will descend from the heavens “in clouds” (Mark 13:26, Revelation 1:7). And in today’s story of the transfiguration, it wasn’t that Jesus had departed, it was that the three disciples just saw the clouds and became afraid. At that time, they failed to recognize that they were partaking in one of the most magnificent events of their lives. Interestingly, it appears that later they do recognize in hindsight what that event was all about. John later wrote: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory.” (John 1:14a). And Peter declared: “For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16).
The next time you feel you are in the midst of clouds and feel confused, hopeless or even fearful, consider that you might be exactly where God wants you to be, and Jesus desires that you learn from him in those clouds. When you cannot see clearly, ask God to give you the faith to walk through the clouds, and perhaps, like the disciples, you will be able to one day look back and recognize Jesus’ presence in that time.