Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. Then they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He said to them, “Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him.”
This story is almost word for word the same as Matthew. In Matthew I tried simply to understand this story, why it was included, and what it means. But I think I understand a few things on a little bit of a deeper level this time through.
First, Jesus’s transformation in appearance. His clothes were turned whiter than the whitest you could imagine. This represents Jesus’s purity, His complete freedom from sin. It is also a representation of what happens to us when we become Christians. Our souls are transformed to that whitest white, free from sin, as Jesus’s righteousness is transferred on to us. The clothes were whiter than you could bleach, just as we become more righteous than we could ever hope to become through our own actions. And just as God was pleased with Jesus, He is now pleased with us. What wonderful, life-changing news!
Second, I think I understand Peter’s desire to stay on the mountain now as well. Peter was so overcome with awe and love that he felt compelled to give the rest of his life to glorify Jesus. By building a house Peter would bring Jesus honor, and by staying on the mountain he would always be in close fellowship with Jesus. Sounds like exactly what God would want, right? Wrong! They don’t stay on the mountain! There is so much more we need to do down here! As fulfilling as it would be to spend 24/7 in worship in the presence of the Lord, how would that help the poor? Or the non-believers? As disciples we must resist the urge to isolate ourselves, even if we have the best intentions. There is more to our spiritual journey than just worship, and we can’t abandon those other things just because they might feel less spiritually fulfilling sometimes.