Meanwhile, Peter and those with him were slumped over in sleep. When they came to, rubbing their eyes, they saw Jesus in his glory and the two men standing with him. When Moses and Elijah had left, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, this is a great moment! Let’s build three memorials: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He blurted this out without thinking. [Luke 9:32-33, The Message]
Oh that Peter, a man after my own heart . . . er, verbal mistakes. It’s all about the enthusiasm, I know. Believe me, I know. If I get excited about an idea, I can’t wait to blurt it out. And of course, I speak with such authority! No wonder people are put off. But how do I explain it? I get a picture in my head and without analyzing what that picture might mean or the ramifications of actually implementing this picture, I share it.
Of course, I know right away when I’ve blown it. Either the people around me have a glazed look in their eyes or they look down at the table at a meeting. Bad idea, I get it. Bad idea.
If only this would be enough and I would stop. But once my mouth is in motion, I keep at it, trying to figure it out as I go, trying to massage the idea as it comes barreling forth, trying to fix what I said or add enough details that might salvage the moment. Instead, I manage to dig a deeper hole. Been there done that . . . a million times.
But Jesus was not engaged with his human friends at that point, he was transfigured (perhaps that body was more like the one people saw after his resurrection, who knows). And in that state of transfiguration, Jesus was not of this world, but transcending dimensions (something no less miraculous than feeding 5,000 and raising the dead). The source was the same: God. And really, who knows who those other two “figures” were or if their presence was relevant to what Peter and John saw. We’ll never know for sure.
And why did Jesus bring Peter and John along at all? It’s not like Jesus hadn’t gone off alone many, many times before that. He wanted them to witness the transfiguration. Why?
This weekend, I’ll be teaching at the Sunday evening Launch service on silence. Just another paradox in God’s economy.