The invitation was to write about a time I went on a hike. I am not a hiking person. I am a walking person. Or a running person.
But I thought about the hiking that Jesus, Peter, James, and John did up a mountain.
It wasn’t a fourteener, the big mountains in Colorado. But it wasn’t the hills that pass for elevation in southern Indiana, either. (Around our neighborhood in northeastern Indiana, 200 feet is elevation.)
It was an actual climb.
Four guys, three of them pretty excited that Jesus was taking them away from the rest of the group. Clearly there would be some special teaching or moments of insight or something to feel superior about.
And Jesus. Needing encouragement, aware of the future, aware of the constant chatter of Peter.
At the top of the climb, I’m guessing they sat for a bit.
We don’t know. No one thought to write that part down. (Though Luke says they fell asleep.) Suddenly, there were two more people with them, Moses and Elijah. And Jesus with his guard down (and his glory up).
Moses and Elijah were talking about his departure, which, Luke says, he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. So two men that Jesus had greeted when they left this life (Elijah in a chariot), were talking to him about what was coming. More than any of his living disciples, these two could talk with him about what was coming. Give him courage. Give him a moment of face-to-face understanding.
In the story of the transfiguration, Peter gets center stage for his incoherence. (“He didn’t know what he was saying,” is what Luke says.)
But I think that on that hike, Peter, James, and John were invited to bear witness to the respite God offered to God in the flesh. Suggesting that maybe we need to accept honest, refreshing conversation in tough times, too.