Six days later, three of them did see it. Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain. His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. His clothes shimmered, glistening white, whiter than any bleach could make them. Elijah, along with Moses, came into view, in deep conversation with Jesus.
Peter interrupted, “Rabbi, this is a great moment! Let’s build three memorials—one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah.” He blurted this out without thinking, stunned as they all were by what they were seeing.
Just then a light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and from deep in the cloud, a voice: “This is my Son, marked by my love. Listen to him.”
The next minute the disciples were looking around, rubbing their eyes, seeing nothing but Jesus, only Jesus.
Coming down the mountain, Jesus swore them to secrecy. “Don’t tell a soul what you saw. After the Son of Man rises from the dead, you’re free to talk.” They puzzled over that, wondering what on earth “rising from the dead” meant.
Meanwhile they were asking, “Why do the religion scholars say that Elijah has to come first?”
Jesus replied, “Elijah does come first and get everything ready for the coming of the Son of Man. They treated this Elijah like dirt, much like they will treat the Son of Man, who will, according to Scripture, suffer terribly and be kicked around contemptibly.”
Peter, James, and John got a foretaste of glory. They got a chance to glimpse what we all wish we could. This little moment where radiance and perfection shone all about them. They saw things in this moment as they truly were.
But that high high then came crashing down to a low low.
The disciples, just like us, live in the midst of the already but not yet.
Glory, radiance, perfect joy exist alongside suffering and pain and death.
The already but not yet.
This is the tension that we exist in and it’s brutal. We swing between the two like a pendulum of a grandfather clock. Some call this, “Waiting for the other shoe to drop.” But, it’s not really like that. It’s not that there is some sort good/bad balance that has to be maintained in our lives. There’s no sense of some people are simply more “blessed” than others. No, the reality is that we live in the context of an eternal tension.
Already but not yet.
When you get engaged to the one you love you experience this sense of already but not yet in a very tangible sense. You feel like you’re married but those vows and the ceremony hasn’t happened yet. You couldn’t imagine doing life without this person yet, you’re not really committed yet. It’s a tension. The wedding day ends that particular tension when the last “I do,” is said.
This is the state that we exist in. Jesus, the Christ, has reconciled all things to the Father. He has made all things new. Yet, we look around and see much evidence to the contrary. Why? Because heaven and earth have not yet come together. We have not yet experienced the consummation. This is that moment that heaven and earth collide and the tension ends because all will be glorified.
Peter, James, and John got to witness what it will be like, in that moment on that mountain, when heaven and earth collide.
In the already but not yet we see glimmers of the coming together of heaven and earth. Where do you see them? Where do you see heaven breaking in on earth? Drop your thoughts in the comments. Let’s celebrate the reality of being in '“already” because those celebrations help us bear up against the “not yet.”