After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.
Dear God, in my series on Peter and John, here’s a story that specifically contains both of them (plus James).
I love that Peter can’t stand an awkward moment without just saying something. Previously, we saw Jesus walking to them on water, but instead of just watching everything play out he decided he needed to get out there too. In this case, he couldn’t just sit there and wait until he was needed. He couldn’t imagine that he was there to just take it in and use the knowledge and experience later. He figured he and the other two must be there for physically utilitarian purposes. He didn’t understand and couldn’t imagine that you were using this as a moment to be leaned upon later in his life.
Of course, I’ve always thought that the main reason for the transfiguration experience was to encourage Jesus as he continued his road to Jerusalem. I would love to have heard that conversation. I’m sure it focused around Jesus hearing affirmation and encouragement from them. I wonder if Peter, James and John were truly able to keep it a secret until after the crucifixion.
Then there is John in this story. We aren’t told that he says anything while Moses and Elijah are there. He was probably in awe. Maybe he was talking with Peter and James. Maybe that’s where the shelter idea came from, but Peter was the one who said it. Either way, he was certainly more reserved in his response than was Peter.
Finally, in the trip down the mountain they asked about Elijah. It doesn’t tell us who actually asked it. It probably wasn’t Peter since Matthew seems to like to tell us when it’s Peter talking. Presumably it was either James or John who asked it. But this shows thought of trying to make sense of all of this, connect the dots, cross the t’s, and dot the i’s. While Peter is seemingly completely in the moment, the asker of this question is trying to step out of the moment and look at things from a big-picture point of view.
Father, I am interested to see how all of this plays out. What is it about Peter that I need to look at adding to my life? What is it about him that I already have that I need to discard? The same for John. What can you teach me about my place in the body of Christ by studying these two men and contrasting them against each other? Teach me through this process so that I might become the man you need and want me to be.
In Jesus’ name I pray,