Jesus had three chosen companions who accompanied him up the mountain: Peter, James and John. About a week earlier Peter had declared Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of the living God and was told that from now on he was Peter and upon this rock Jesus would build his church. James the elder son of Zebedee was to become head of the church as Jerusalem. And John, James’ brother, was the beloved disciple.
Imagine the feeling that came over those three as they experienced the sight of Jesus becoming radiant as the sun and seeing Moses and Elijah conversing with him. It was more than good to be there; they were overjoyed! And they wanted to remain there. Maybe they were thinking: “It doesn’t get much better than this!” And then an immense fear overshadowed them as they heard the voice of God confirming what Peter had recently professed and pleading with them to listen to Jesus. Confusion then followed as Jesus, now all alone and looking the same as they knew him, touched them, led them down the mountain, and commanded them not to tell anyone what they had seen. How could they not?!
That is the disciples’ perspective as I imagine it. But what or who led Jesus to that mountaintop? Why was he there?
Perhaps it was because he needed reassurance that the Father was with him as he continued his ministry. He had just predicted to his disciples what was to come: suffering greatly at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and scribes in Jerusalem, being killed, and on the third day being raised. His telling them of this provoked a negative response from Peter: “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” Jesus had recently been rejected in his own hometown - the tide of public opinion was turning against him. Despite his healings and miracles and preaching, he was just ‘too ordinary’ to be the Messiah. Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets, conversed with him. Have you ever wondered what they were talking about? Oh, to be a fly on the clothing of any one of them! I imagine they were giving Jesus encouragement. Moses had real difficulty in leading the Israelites on their journey to freedom and the covenant; Elijah had to flee for his life after showing their descendants that their idolatry was based on a sham; and, both had been discouraged and both had received the assurance and strength they needed to be true to their mission. And so will Jesus.
And, so will we.
The Feast of the Transfiguration, A17