September 2 - Nº 245 Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36
Six days after Jesus had discussed his death with his disciples, he took Peter, James, and John on a hike up a high mountain. When they were alone, Jesus started praying. As he did, his face began to shine like the sun and his clothes became as white as lightning. Just then both Moses (who gave the Israelites God’s Law—see #48 - Ten Commandments) and Elijah (one of Israel’s great prophets—see #137 - Elijah and the Widow and #138 - The Battle with Baal) appeared in glorious brilliance. They began talking with Jesus. They discussed details of Jesus’ departure from the earth which would soon take place in Jerusalem. The disciples, who had been very sleepy, began to realize that this was not a dream. Jesus’ amazing transformation and the appearance of two of Israel’s greatest patriarchs were actually taking place. As Moses and Elijah prepared to leave, Peter spoke up. “Lord,” he said, “it is good that we are here. Please allow us to build three shelters—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Although this sounds like a strange suggestion, Peter’s response was actually quite logical. Jesus had made a promise just a few days before that some of the disciples would not die until they had seen the kingdom of God and its power (see #244 - Peter Gets It Right; Then Gets in the Way). Peter was sure that he and the other two disciples were witnessing the beginning of Jesus’ kingdom reign here on the earth. The annual Festival of Booths was just days away. This feast anticipated the time when the Messiah would live in their midst. So, it seemed logical to build three booths (or shelters), one for each of the three kingdom leaders to welcome them as the new rulers of Israel. But what Peter was excitedly suggesting and what Jesus was actually doing were two different things. Jesus still needed to die as Israel’s Passover Lamb before he could return to reign as Israel’s Messiah. However, he was sharing a glimpse of this future glory with three of his key disciples. He was giving them strength for the present and hope for the future, so they would not become discouraged as they embarked on the difficult journey that was ahead of them. As Peter was talking, a bright cloud came over them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son. I love him, and I am very pleased with him. Listen to him!” When they heard God’s voice, the disciples fell on their faces. They were terrified! Jesus walked over and touched them. “Get up, and don’t be afraid!” he said. They got up and looked around. Suddenly they were alone with Jesus. As they came down from the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you just saw until I have been raised from the dead.” So, they kept it all to themselves only discussing with each other what it might mean that Jesus would be “raised from the dead.”
Jesus vividly demonstrated to three of his key followers that there was a whole lot more to life than they could ever see here on earth. There was life after death, and this life would be filled with glory and light for his followers. This eyewitness account should bring us great hope for what God has in store for us when this life is over! It should help us persevere through any difficulties we face right now.