I’m captivated by the story of Peter, James and John on the mountain with Jesus during his transfiguration. I wonder what it might have been like that day, to have been in Peter’s sandals:
“Cool, Jesus picked me to be here. Three out of twelve – not bad. I guess I’m in.”
“I must still be okay in his book, after my major faux pas the other day – the one that ended up with Jesus sorta ripping my lips off.”
“Man, my eyes are killing me! One minute Jesus is standing here before us, all normal-like. The next minute, he’s glowing!”
“Wow, Moses and Elijah. This is big. Wait till the other guys hear about this!”
What a wonderful, rich, intensely spiritual experience that must have been. And Peter’s response – he offers to build three shelters – one each for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. He is not only living fully in that moment – he wants to stay in that moment. And be able to return to it over and over again, in a physical, tangible way. But it would never be the same, no matter how hard Peter tried to preserve it.
I love that Jesus doesn’t respond to Peter’s suggestion. Instead, as if Peter hadn’t had enough excitement for one day, out of the heavens comes the voice of the Father. “This is my Son . . . Listen to him!”
It’s not about the moment, Peter. It’s about the One standing here before you. The One who is about to give his life for the entire world. Wake up and pay attention!
I think Peter’s response is pretty indicative of human nature. Experiences are wonderful, and so is the ability to remember those experiences and to savor them and grow through them. But so often, we want so much more out of our experiences. We want to erect buildings around them, and preserve them from change. And yet God does not rebuke our attempts to savor the moments. Instead he simply reminds us “. . . it’s about my Son.” It’s about the Son of God, who moves with us through all the moments of our lives, moving us and forming us into his image.
Things were about to change for Peter. Soon that amazing day on the mountain would be just a distant memory. He and James and John would watch as their master’s once illumined body was beaten and torn and hung on a cross, buried and then brought to life again. In just a few months, he and the remaining ten disciples would be scattered throughout Jerusalem and beyond, charged with carrying the message of hope to all who would hear. They would never return to those years of traipsing about the countryside, in the dust of their rabbi. But their rabbi would go with them into every moment, as long as they were willing to listen.