By Collin Ross
When wishful thinking becomes authentic reality, everything changes. Several years ago, as my wife and I were nearing graduation from seminary, we found ourselves daydreaming about traveling somewhere exotic to celebrate such a special milestone. However, we knew that given our situation, a trip like that was pure fantasy.
Indeed, graduation came and went. We moved three times, found jobs, got a dog, started a family, and still the daydream lingered—that alternate reality where we’d lounge on the shore of an island paradise. And then, everything changed. A generous gift. A window of time. In a flurry of unexpected events, all the dominoes fell into place, and we were booked for a Hawaiian getaway. Almost overnight, wishful thinking had become reality. Hope had become real.
This undoubtedly was what Peter, James, and John experienced when they saw Jesus transformed before their very eyes. Since they had begun following Him, the disciples had heard Jesus speak about how God’s kingdom was not a distant hope but a current reality. They had seen extraordinary evidence of God’s kingdom in the miracles of Jesus. But they’d also seen the continued oppression by the Romans, the persistent hostilities from the religious leaders, and the unrelenting plight of the poor. What Jesus was saying sounded great, but what if it had been just wishful thinking, lacking any foundation in the real world?
But here they are, high on a mountain, encountering the glory of God alongside two of Israel’s greatest heroes, Moses and Elijah. Yet, shining radiant light like the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9), Jesus stands tall above these prophets. On that mountain, there was no question which man was the center of God’s redemptive activities. God Himself would confirm the obvious as “a cloud appeared, overshadowing them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him!” (Mark 9:7). Moses and Elijah may have played vital roles in preparing the way for God’s kingdom, but Jesus is the one who came to finish the job. The world that Jesus was unveiling through His words and actions was not wishful thinking. It was an authentic reality.
In many seasons of life, it can be difficult to believe that God’s kingdom is anything more than a pipe dream. When faced with a troubling diagnosis, financial stress, loneliness, or any other difficulty, the reality of a life where “death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more” (Revelation 21:4) can certainly seem outside the bounds of the real world. Most of us will not experience anything as dramatic as what the disciples were afforded in order to convince us of the reality of God’s kingdom. But we are called to do what the voice from heaven said: Listen to Jesus because He is the one who is making this world a reality. As we learn to listen, the truth of God’s kingdom will become more visible in our lives, and we’ll be strengthened for what lies ahead, as our hope is transformed into reality.