So, Jesus, Peter, James and John went up a mountain and at the top, ‘Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light’ Matthew 17.2.
Peter was so in awe of what was happening that he offered to build three shelters for Jesus as well as Moses and Elijah who had also appeared.
Peter thought he was being helpful, he was having a glimpse of heaven on earth and somehow he wanted to bottle it. He was almost certainly thinking of the Old Testament where God had a tabernacle (big tent) and later a temple that his presence lived in and that the Jews could come and visit and worship him at.
Peter wanted to put Jesus into a box but what he failed to understand was that Jesus’ coming into the world was God showing that he didn’t need any boxes, tabernacles or temples anymore.
John 1.14 says that Jesus came and made his home (literally that he tabernacled) amongst us.
Peter wanted to create a box where Jesus’ glory could be seen and displayed but what he didn’t realize was that Jesus’ glory was being seen each day, just not in a glowy or shiny way.
If we think that we need to package Jesus in a certain way in order to present him to the world, then perhaps we need to realize that it is time to let Jesus be Jesus instead.
So, back to the mountaintop. Peter wanted to set up camp but his request was ignored as a voice from heaven said ‘this is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.’ God the father affirmed his son Jesus and he reminded the disciples that they need to listen to and be led rather than coming up with their own bright ideas.
Then, Jesus led the three disciples down the mountain. When you think about this from Jesus’ perspective it was a huge sacrifice for him to leave. Being on that mountain top must have felt in some ways like he was back in heaven with his father. It would have been understandable if he had wanted a few hours, days or weeks there but instead he leaves. You see, Jesus had come into the world so that other people would see who he is and that he could tell them about God and he wanted to continue in fulfilling his mission.
Perhaps, we like Peter would have wanted to stay and to continue to see Jesus revealed in all of his divine glory but Jesus (who God says that we need to listen to) wants to lead us out into the world.
It is time to let God out of any box that we have tried to put him in and to follow him into the world where we can show people who Jesus is and to tell them about God. Telling people about God is simply about us being honest about our faith and the things that God is doing in our lives.
Don’t forget that Jesus was still with them after they had come down the mountain and his promise is that he is with us always.