“Let’s go for a walk,” Jesus said. And he headed toward a tall hill in the northern part of Israel. Not mountains like the Rockies, but not with a paved path running 2/3s of the way to the top.
It took concentration to follow Jesus up the rocks.
Peter was the first one up, followed by James and John. Brothers.
All three of them were fishermen. Strong arms and legs. Good balance. Out of their element, but able to move.
We really don’t know what they were thinking as they followed, but it’s not hard to guess.
They’d been watching Jesus heal people and feed people and attract crowds. They had watched his popularity grow. They had watched the religious leaders be intimidated.
It was pretty cool to be following Jesus.
And at this moment, for these three guys, it was even cooler. Jesus had invited just them. Three of the twelve, who were twelve of the hundreds. Following a rabbi was a privilege not taken lightly. And being in his inner circle was humbling and exhilarating.
We know the feeling of being recognized by the popular people. To be invited to the cool party, to the successful event, to the table of power. We do our best to measure up. We try to figure out how to fit better, how to share in some of the power and benefits.
They got to the top, the four of them. Jesus, Peter, James, and John.
And just as they were catching their breath, admiring the view, thinking about how amazing it was to be here with Jesus, Jesus changed.
He was, as Matthew writes, transfigured.
It was still Jesus. They knew him, recognized him. And it wasn’t like scales fell off their eyes. It wasn’t like they could see better.
It was like the real Jesus was shining through.
Literally shining. Not reflecting light, he was the source of light.
I cannot figure out how to describe it any more than Peter himself could.
“We were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.”