Ohhh Peter. How easily can most of us identify with him? Hot-headed, impetuous, spontaneous, well-intentioned, yet so often putting a foot wrong; even when he thinks he’ll “win,” he loses! Jesus has begun to foretell his death and strong-willed Peter is adamant that this should not happen and “rebukes” Jesus. Jesus calls him “a stumbling block” and decides to take the three disciples away from the others for a “private tutorial” of sorts, a crash course charted toward some measure of understanding of the significance of his warning and to renew their faith in him.
Awed by what he witnesses on the mountaintop, Peter must have sincerely thought that he was back on track even sprinting ahead, offering impromptu Middle Eastern hospitality at its finest: “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But barely have the words left his mouth and God speaks. Understandably shaken, the disciples fall prostrate, trembling in fear before the Lord. As suddenly as the apparition appeared, it disappeared, and so would have Peter’s hopes to enjoy an intimate, pinnacle experience just himself, James and John, with Jesus and the two prophets. How privileged they were. Yet, beyond a quick glimpse, the elite gathering dissipated. Jesus took the three back down the mountain, and cautioned them not to reveal anything that had happened, until “after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” Aside from the on-going confusion that must have ensued, this experience was a significant event intended to edge the disciples closer to some measure of understanding regarding Jesus’ recent shocking statement that he would suffer and die. God’s declaration, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” was intended to draw the attention of the disciples. God wanted to lead them to a modicum of awareness of God’s plan for Jesus, and subsequently for each one of us. In addition, the disciples were urged strongly to heed all that Jesus was saying. This was meant to reassure the disciples that even though Jesus must suffer, all would proceed according to the will of God. Each year, as we mark the season of Lent symbolically travelling the road with Jesus through his public ministry, right up to the foot of the cross, and finally to the empty tomb on Easter Sunday, we too, are reminded to heed the words Jesus speaks, imitate his ministry and remember that everything comes together for the good that God wills for each of us God’s beloved children.