“He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.’ When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise, and have no fear.’” (Matthew 17:5-7)
The transfiguration of Jesus that took place in the presence of the disciples was meant not only to demonstrate conclusively that He was the Messiah, but also that He is God incarnate. No doubt it was a glorious awe-inspiring sight that would have left most of us speechless or blithering idiots mouthing inane spiritual platitudes. Or else it would have filled us with terror, which was the ultimate reaction of Peter, James and John when they heard the voice of God, perhaps mildly chastising them for their words.
For that reason we really cannot criticize the three disciples. As their response indicates, they did not understand who Jesus really was for they equated Him with Moses and Elijah. Although the disciples had gone forth in the Name of Jesus, preaching, baptizing and performing signs and miracles, they were still unable to comprehend who Jesus was and what He had come into the world to do. The reality was totally beyond their expectations.
Great as Moses and Elijah were, they were subordinate to Jesus. He is the Son of God as the disciples learned when they heard the Father’s voice. And, as they learned from Jesus, those who are in Christ Jesus have nothing to fear from being in the presence of the Almighty. Those, who in are Christ by faith, hear and obey. Those who reject faith in Jesus have much to fear. They cannot live in the holy presence of the Almighty for they have rejected His sacrifice for their sins.