Matthew 17:1-9 (NRSV)
Chapter 17Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. Verse 2And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Verse 3Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Verse 4Then Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." Verse 5While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!" Verse 6When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. Verse 7But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Get up and do not be afraid." Verse 8And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. Verse 9As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, "Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."
Reading through the lens of Christ’s death and resurrection, it is tempting to criticize Peter for not getting it. His offer to build three dwellings equated Christ, his friend and teacher, with Moses, who received the law, and Elijah, a great prophet. However, seeing Christ, the man with whom Peter walked dusty roads and ate daily meals, his face now shining “like the sun” and wearing “dazzling white clothes,” would have been mind-boggling. Therefore, perhaps Peter’s very human offer to do something to preserve the moment is understandable.
Yet, God had more in mind. God called Peter, James, and John to see a new image of Christ. God called them to recognize Christ as God’s “Son, the Beloved.” Moreover, they were to “listen to him!”
How frequently do we, like Peter, only see Christ as a friendly teacher and miss his transfigured image that reveals him as God’s beloved Son?
God, parent of both the human and divine Christ, forgive us when we reduce your Son to only a friendly human teacher. Keep us ever mindful of the revelation of Christ’s divine glory as your beloved Son and light to the world. Amen.