The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ is recorded three times in the gospels, but only Luke tells us that the disciples had been napping. Here we read:

“But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory…” (9:32)

Are you a nap-taker? When my parents were alive, I would stop by to see them on my way home from work and catch Dad in his recliner and Mom on the couch, both fast asleep. When they awoke, they always seemed a little embarrassed that they had been caught. I would smile and enjoy my momentary advantage over them. It was like a game we played.

Sleep is good, and the older I get the more I like it. Being a morning person, I often get to work around 5:30, alert and ready to go. However, you would be doing me a favor not to check in on me about 3:00 in the afternoon, especially on Sundays. When our choir used to sit up in the loft during the Sunday morning message, some of us remember seeing certain basses and tenors dozing, snatching a quick shut-eye.

If you search throughout the Bible you find many references to sleep:

  • We find the first one in Genesis 2, when Adam slept and woke up to find a wife.
  • Jacob slept and saw a ladder.
  • Joseph slept and had visions.
  • Pharaoh slept and had enigmatic dreams.
  • Samson slept and woke up with a new hairstyle.
  • Samuel slept and woke up hearing God call his name.
  • Jonah slept through a violent storm at sea.
  • Jesus also slept through a storm in a boat.
  • Eutychus was asleep in a window and fell and broke his neck.

It reminds me of that old joke about the man who fell asleep in church and pinned this note to his coat sleeve:

Now I lay me down to sleep.

The sermon’s long and mighty deep.

If he should finish before I wake,

Please give my arm a gentle shake.

There is a theme I would like to touch on in this passage where Peter, James, and John were sleeping and they almost missed the glory of Jesus Christ in the Transfiguration. “When they were awake, they saw his glory.”

Refuse to live the sleepy spiritual life. – Heaven may be moving down to show you something glorious and if you are fast asleep, you will miss it. You can be a morning person and see what others fail to see. We are encouraged to get up early and meet with God in prayer and Bible study. It is possible to love sleep too much; sluggards are so described. The Dark Ages were wrapped in sleep until the Reformation and The Great Awakening (so named for a good reason).

Realize that there are glories to see. – “They saw his glory.” God is real and those who are fully awake know the blessings of His presence each day. God gave us an intellect to use to find Him both in nature and in the Scriptures. Murder sleep and wake up and see “his glory.” Even a lost man can read 1 Corinthians 13 and appreciate the beauty of literature. But a fully awake Christian sees more; he sees God up close and personal. The Bible is precious to me for many reasons, but one of the main reasons is that I was taught the stories as a child. The Bible is the Book of Glory! In sorrow, we see the glories of peace. In failure, we see the glories of success. In conflict, we see the glories of forgiveness.

Remember that in sleep you are alone, but when you are awake there is a conscious awareness of God and others. – It is not difficult to feel alone in this world. Even saved people can feel this way. Some of us have been in pain so much that sleep was a welcomed relief, a way of escape.  Healing comes through activity and giving our bodies to God each day: “… present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Transformation for us comes through a renewed mind. This transformed Christian is not satisfied with his old life anymore. Nor is he very happy. Sin has become very real to him. He looks for wisdom, strength, and beauty in God and in everyday people. Christian education is not meant to be a storehouse, but it is meant to wake us up. The truly educated person is the one who sees the glories of Jesus Christ and gets to share his knowledge with others. And it takes time. Moses slept on the backside of the Median Desert for 40 years before He awoke to see the glory of God in a bush that would not burn.

You cannot fully appreciate your health until you have lost it for a while. You cannot fully appreciate God’s riches until you have known personal poverty. And you cannot appreciate God’s glory when you are asleep, like the disciples.

If the Lord tarries His coming, we are headed for another “great awakening,” you know.

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

One day we will more fully comprehend, “When they were awake, they saw his glory.” We will see the glory of Truth like we have never seen it before. We shall see the glory of our Lord and Savior. It will take the touch of death to shake off the shackles of sleep. We absolutely and completely will wake up! That eternal morning will be full of light and in that light we shall behold Him and His glory.