Read Mark 9:2-9
2 Six days later Jesus took Peter,James,and John,and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched,Jesus’ appearance was transformed,3 and his clothes became dazzling white,far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. 4 Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus.
5 Peter exclaimed,”Rabbi,it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials,one for you,one for Moses,and one for Elijah.” 6 He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say,for they were all terrified.
7 Then a cloud overshadowed them,and a voice from the cloud said,”This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” 8 Suddenly,when they looked around,Moses and Elijah were gone,and they saw only Jesus with them.
9 As they went back down the mountain,he told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. (NLT)
Sometimes we are just awestruck. Words can’t express our feelings. It could be the birth of a child,a spectacular landscape,a gesture of love,a moment of artistic brilliance. For the three disciples,it was something rather different again. A vision of the risen Jesus with two of the great ones from the Old Testament,Moses and Elijah. Jesus is giving them a preview of what is to come: he will be glorified. His soon-to-be crucifixion won’t be the last word. Jesus is showing them he is the true Messiah: the one to whom the law and the prophets pointed (Moses and Elijah represent the law and the prophets). This vision or transfiguration also makes clear Jesus is no mere mortal but God in human form. The whiteness of his clothes,the cloud,the heavenly voice,all affirm his divinity.
Peter and the others can’t quite get their head around that. All Peter can suggest is a mini-building project! He figures a few religious shelters should be erected to commemorate the occasion. He wants to freeze this special moment. Peter has to learn that no matter how special the moment,that moment passes. A few years ago,I had a wonderful time flying on a special 747 scenic flight over the NSW coast. I was part of a team helping hundreds of disabled children enjoy the experience. I got an unexpected invitation to join the flight (first-class seat and all!). It was memorable,but passing. We eventually disembarked. Life moved on.
So it is with all our special experiences. We rightly treasure them,remember them,and then journey on to the next experience. For Jesus and his followers,it was the journey to Jerusalem and a tortured death. Which itself was a prelude to the resurrection. The transfiguration was a pointer to this resurrection,but wasn’t itself the resurrection. The road to resurrection had no shortcuts: it had to go via the cross. Peter,out of fear and confusion,perhaps thought that a few memorial shelters might allow them to live a happy-ever-after existence on the mountain. But for him and for us and for Jesus,life moves on. There will be pains and pleasures enough along the way. Meanwhile,why try to freeze a moment of the journey,when the end of that journey is everlasting bliss?