Inevitably there is a MISTAKE in here and this is also where I get light headed…
The climb to the top of Mount Hermon would have taken the better part of the day. Luke, in his account of this event, tells us that Jesus began to pray when they arrived at the top of the mountain, Luke 9:28-29. Apparently this prayer meeting lasted for a while, because the disciples fell asleep, Luke 9:32. So, the day has probably gone and night has fallen. The peaceful mountain is covered with a sky filled with a canopy of stars.
Suddenly, Jesus changes! His face changes, Luke 9:29. His garments change, v. 3. He is “transfigured”. This word comes from the word “metamorphosis”. It is the same word that is used to describe the changes a caterpillar goes through when it is “transfigured” into a butterfly. In other words, Jesus changed forms on the mountain. The glory that was concealed within Him was revealed on that mountain. And this was not the first time Jesus had experienced a transfiguration. When He was born in Bethlehem, Godtransformed into human likeness and so Jesus concealed the glory of His deity behind the veil of His human body. At Bethlehem the glory was held within, on this occasion, the glory on the inside burst forth to the outside.
The dark mountain was instantly bathed in a light brighter than the sun. Anyone looking up at Mount Hermon that night would have seen the mountain lit with the glory of God. It was a special presentation! Better than any fireworks display.
The first mistake, however, is one the disciples will repeat. Peter, James and John have been asleep. Ah the bane of our lives the boredom or impatience we feel. Although I choose to believe it is our very nature and frailty that we are unable to keep our eyes open. Sleep is required for good health and I guess our inability to keep awake is a good thing in that we must accept that we need God and rely on Him more. Mistakes are not something that forever define us in God's eyes but are a reminder that we are human and in need of His grace.
We then read that they wake up to find the mountain bathed in supernatural light. Jesus, their leader and friend, was no longer the same man He had been. When they walked up the mountain Jesus had appeared to be an ordinary Jew; now, Jesus was shining brighter than the sun. When they see this, they are terrified, v. 6.
Peter didn’t know what to say, so he just blurted out something. He recommends that they enter into a building program. He suggests that they build three lean-tos, one for Moses, one for Elijah, and one for Jesus. And this is the mistake Peter makes over and over again. He can’t just shush. At college we used to play a trick on a couple of our fellow students. They could not stand silence. They had to fill it. We would make sure that no one said anything, including the lecturer and have a friendly bet on which one of them would break first.
(By the way, there are people who have something to say and people who just have to say something. The first group is worth listening to. The second group will get you into trouble!)
Peter may have been suggesting that they just stay on the mountain, enjoying this amazing moment. Who can blame him for that. It is lovely, peaceful and satisfying to be on that mountain top. A wonderful spiritual experience of basking in the majesty of God.
And sometimes we build on our mountain top. Make it the holy place. The place of God’s glory. This is where God meets His people in His fullness. We then can spend the remainder of our time typing to get there again to recreate it, at the expense of doing what we have actually been called to do and the purpose of seeing God’s glory.
Does that ring a bell? Are we still up the mountain? Have we built a place for God to dwell? A place where Go is only there? Or do we strain and give all our energy to find that mountain top again so we can sit down and not come down again?
It is a mistake to build on the mountain. To want to stay there. It is a great place to be but God’s purpose is greater than that place. It is a place to be propelled from, so that we can take that majesty, glory and power back down with us.