Text: Mark 9:2-50, Philippians 1:15-18
I love to get down to business. If we are in a swimming pool, I can’t handle any of that standing and splashing around nonsense. I’d rather accomplish something and swim. If I have something important to tell you, I’ll rush it every time, forgetting to shoot the breeze first. I just love to keep things moving along and attend to the business at hand.
When Peter suddenly finds himself face to face with Jesus, Moses, and Elijah transfigured, he immediately switches on his “Let’s do something!” response. Just look at his reaction. He doesn’t know what to do or say, so he scrambles and offers to build a tabernacle. Never mind that he doesn’t have tools or supplies. He sees God incarnate and his natural response is, “Let’s build a place to honor—and maybe hide—some of this awful glory.”
Just like Peter, when I think of how to interact with the glory of God, I want to rush to fix things, to hurry and set up the proper structure for Him. I’m inclined to scramble when faced with His glory, because I’m usually only focused on my own role instead of His.
When Jesus appears transfigured with Moses and Elijah, one of the many things He’s proving is that He is His Father’s Man. He stands illuminated with Moses, a symbol of the Law, and Elijah, a symbol of the prophets, and shows us that He is the literal embodiment of both. But Jesus is not just some symbolic fulfillment; His actual person fulfills the words of the prophets and the strictures of the Law (Matthew 5:17). He is doing His Father’s will, and it is blindingly glorious.
In the face of this shining glory we find Peter. He was chosen by Christ to be the rock of the church (Matthew 16:18)—he’s a big deal among the disciples. But Peter was still trying to figure out what it really meant for Jesus to be who He is. I imagine it’s hard to see all the might and power of the universe sitting on the shoulders of a teacher and friend. On the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter is trying his best to work it all out. But his best is still human understanding, and when it comes to the infinite, there’s a point where we just have to acknowledge our limitations.
When we glimpse the glory of God, we’re often like Peter: ready to go build tabernacles (or whatever seems right for the moment) and get started right away. But God speaks and gently redirects us, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” (Mark 9:7).
Later, when Jesus heals the sick child, the response of the boy’s father is beautiful, yet simple: I do believe, but help me to understand (Mark 9:24, my paraphrase). Peter’s response could have been the same as that grieving father’s: Jesus! I believe. Help me to understand!
It’s not about me. It’s not about my belief or my ability to solve problems quickly. It’s about Christ revealed. God’s own glory is the centerpiece, not any human notion.
Father, give us eyes to see as You see.