Matt. 17:1-13 – Jesus’ Glory Revealed
Jesus gives the inner circle of the twelve, Peter, James & John, a glimpse of his pre-incarnate glory. Jesus reveals to these three that he is more than a simple carpenter turned prophet. His messiahship is confirmed by the presence of the law giver and the greatest prophet with the third affirmation coming in the voice of the Father from a cloud.
Peter gets to represent us again and show our inability to absorb the revelation of God amongst us without saying something. His comment about setting up tabernacles might be replaced today by the comment, “Let me get a picture of this.” We want to “remember” or “commemorate” something that is meant to be a living ongoing experience. The idea is not to remember this as some static memorial, but to let this experience flow forward in our lives and change every moment from then on. It isn’t something that we keep in a scrapbook but something that is meant to shine out in our lives.
Fortunately God intervenes and interrupts Peter to get the point across. Jesus is God’s anointed one, his Son, his expression of Love to us. We are commanded to listen to him. The pronouncement is such that Peter, James & John fall on their faces in fear. Such is experiencing but a “drop” of God’s glory. Then Jesus touches them and it’s just them and him alone on the mountaintop. The discussion on the way back down the mountain is no doubt energized by what they’ve just experienced and they are struggling to reconcile what it clearly means with all the teachings that they’ve previously heard about Elijah coming to herald the Messiah’s coming. Jesus uses how they treated God’s prophet, John, who has come as Elijah, as a foreshadowing of how they are going to treat him.
The story is going to change. As Jesus continues to call the lost to himself he is also going to face and challenge the opposition of the religious leaders. This is the other side of the Gospel of Love, that he has to run headlong into their wrath in order to pay the price that would set them free. JBB 12/8/2004