Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.
Unique to Luke’s version of the Transfiguration is that the disciples were very tired and fighting off sleep when Jesus was transformed. They were so tired, in fact, that Peter didn’t know what he was saying! But because they fought sleep off and stayed awake, they saw something truly amazing. Yet, on the night Jesus needs them the most, they will not be able to stay awake… I don’t know if that means anything, but it feels important, like I’m close but can’t figure it out.
In the past I always wondered why the disciples didn’t tell everyone what they saw. In Mark and Matthew Jesus tells them to keep quiet, but it’s not like anyone ever listens to Him when He says that. But the disciples do. Why? I don’t think it’s because they were more obedient. I think it’s because it was such a moving experience, so personal, that they had to keep it to themselves. Sort of the reason you might not want to tell your best friend about your amazing date. When you keep it inside it feels more real, somehow. Many people prefer to keep their most awe-inspiring religious moments to themselves like the disciples do in this story. And I think that’s okay, as long as you share it when the time is right, when it has the chance to change someone else’s life, as the disciples obviously did.