“When Moses and Elijah had left, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, this is a great moment! Let’s build three memorials: one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He blurted this out without thinking. While he was babbling like this, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them. As they found themselves buried in the cloud, they became deeply aware of God. Then there was a voice out of the cloud: “This is my Son, the Chosen! Listen to Him.” When the sound of the voice died away, they saw Jesus there alone. They were speechless. And they continued speechless...” Luke 9:34 – 36.9 (The Message)
Babbling...speechless, what a contrast! Peter, James and John saw Jesus. Peter began to babble – empty-headed chatter about erecting three memorials on the mountain. Did he want to commemorate the experience or did he just want to stay there and never go back to the valley again? Tabernacles...shelters...memorials...did this hark back to the wilderness where God’s presence was with Israel, but confined to a tent into which people were not permitted to enter? Peter had not yet grasped the significance of Jesus’ name, Emmanuel, God with us.
Remember Jacob. He was shocked when he found out, through his dream at Bethel, that God was not confined to a recognised altar or shrine. God was where Jacob was, out in the open, sleeping on a stone. He blurted out, “God is in this place and I didn’t know it.” God reassured him, “Jacob, I’ll be with you wherever you go.” Jacob was also babbling, verbalising his ignorance. When God spoke he was locked into the truth...”I’ll be with you.”
Peter’s babbling, likewise, was silenced by the voice of God. From babbling to speechless, silent, struck dumb by the voice of truth. Until God spoke, Peter babbled. When God spoke, there was nothing more to say. God’s presence in the cloud...God’s voice in their ears...everything changed!
Peter never forgot that moment. He was so deeply impacted that, years later, he wrote about it to the people of God to whom he had ministered throughout Asia Minor (2 Peter 1:16-18). If he ever had misconceptions about Jesus’ identity, that moment in God’s presence, those unearthly words from God, forever cleared from his mind the clutter of unbelief, especially after the resurrection when he began to connect the dots and everything was unscrambled in his mind. He never again doubted who Jesus was. He was eyewitness to something that human beings had never seen or heard, God clothed in human flesh, and human flesh clothed in the glory of God.
Jesus warned us, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans for they think that they will be heard for their many words.“ (Matthew 6:7 NIV) How easy it is for human beings to babble until they meet the glorified Jesus. It happened to John on Patmos. It happened to Paul on the Damascus road. Everything will change when we stop babbling and listen to God speak.