Jesus was nearing his eventual arrest and crucifixion with a steadiness that would have been unnerving if any of "the Twelve" had understood it.Instead, Jesus was bearing the burden of the impending ordeal with little to no help from his dearest friends and companions. As was his practice, he retreated a little ways from the crush of people to pray and spiritually prepare for the coming events and circumstances. This time he invited Peter, James, and John to come with him. As was their practice, they failed to realize its importance and fell asleep as Jesus prepared--by himself--for the climax of not only his life but of all creation.
Peter, James, and John woke up to see that something had changed about Jesus. He seemed to glow and shine from an inward light. This was not some glare from the sun or a fire but, rather, as if Jesus' own body was producing light and--could it be?--glory. His clothes were whiter than any clothes these three hardworking men had ever known. In fact, it would seem that this white was whiter than white.It was as if this white was more real. It was as if Jesus was suddenly made up of "more real" stuff than they were. He simply looked out of place in the world because of his incredible reality.
Soon, two men approached Jesus. If you had asked Peter, James, or John they wouldn't be able to tell you where these two came from but that they were there, anyway. Jesus began to have a quiet conversation with the two men. As the disciples looked on, they realized that, for some odd reason, they knew immediately that these two men were not simply two strangers. Rather, they were Moishe and Eliyahu--that is, Moses and Elijah. They had no reason to know this--they had never met the men--and, yet, something deep within them confirmed that they were watching Jesus converse with Moses--the great man who lead Israel out of Egypt and to the Promised Land--and Elijah--the great prophet who proclaimed God's truth in the face of resistance and was said to herald the coming Messiah. These disciples watched as Jesus, Moses, and Elijah talked about Jesus' coming task and the coming of the Kingdom into the world--the accomplishment of an ancient plan that Moses and Elijah had also taken part in. Jesus, who taught the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, was taking comfort from Moses the Lawgiver and Elijah the Prophet.
Peter, in his haste and anxiety, blurted out, "Master! This is great! We'll make three tabernacles here. One for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah!" Moses--who had never set foot in the earthly promised land--was being offered a dwelling within the land he had lead Israel to. Elijah--who had lived an itinerant life of a prophet on the run from the empire--was being offered a place to rest and dwell. Jesus--who was quickly advancing upon his own sacrificial death--was being offered a chance to wait and teach. Peter missed the point of what was approaching. In his haste and anxiety, he offered something that simply could not compare to the glorious moment approaching. It would not be easy, of course, but it would be glorious.
A cloud wrapped up the men there and a voice spokefrom it saying, "This is my Son. This one is different and special. This one is unique and real. Carefully listen to him." In this moment of hyper-reality, Peter, James, and John got a glimpse of the triune God--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--in the voice, Jesus, and the cloud. As these men of dust and breath entered into the presence of the triune God they were terrified--justifiably. They fell away from the glory and reality of God and hid their faces in fear. All of creation had come to a single point of focus on that mountain and all things tied together. The plan that had started before creation, continued through the Law and the Prophets, took flesh in the incarnation, was inaugurated at Jesus'baptism, and would be accomplished at thecrucifixion, death, and resurrection was--at that very moment--coming so close to the world that it peeked through and a little bit of a realness greater than reality was visible. The disciples fell away and covered their faces.
Jesus called to them, "It's okay, guys. You can look up. It's not over but you can look up. You're going to be alright--more than you understand--soon, you're going to be alright."