Can’t Stay Here
Mark 9:2-8 (NRSV) – “Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore, but only Jesus.”
The story of Jesus’ Transfiguration is a spectacular one. It is filled with beautiful imagery that one can be, well… transfixed with.
That is what happens to Peter, James, and John. They are rendered motionless and speechless by what is happening before their very eyes. Let’s rewind for a second. They are all terrified and rendered speechless, except for Peter, who is always opening his mouth to say something, good or bad.
Have you ever been the one to say something without thinking? Or, have you been on the receiving end of someone saying something to you without thinking? It could have been a family member who passed away, and someone offered a completely insensitive remark to you because they really didn’t know what to say. When my mother revealed the news to her coworkers that my wife and I were going to have a baby, this woman said to her, “Already (we were newly married at the time)? Well, mistakes happen.” Not only was that a completely insensitive remark, but it was also nonsensical. If you don’t really know what to say, don’t say anything. Or, at least, think before you open your mouth.
Moreover, the suggestion that Peter offers has a lesson in it for all of us. You see, this spectacular thing has happened and he wants to hold on to it. He says they should make “dwellings,” which are tabernacles for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. This would mean that the three of them would be on the mountain in a static situation and setting. Sometimes we can be like Peter. We can allow spectacular things or what once was to cause us to remain in a static (un-evolved) situation. We can get comfortable. Jesus doesn’t even dignify Peter’s suggestion with a response, and the next thing they do is go back down the mountain. That is oftentimes the response we need to have with folks – a non-response. Some things aren’t worth dignifying or giving your energy over to.
Jesus rebuffs Peter’s call for stagnation and comfortability. Jesus understood that he couldn’t dwell on a great thing that happened, or what once was. His ministry was calling him to go down from the mountain and meet the people where they were. As churches, we can often ignore this fact. We want to stay on the mountain but neglect to realize that our ministry is calling to go out and touch the lives of the people who will never come to us.
Lastly, the final verse tells us that when all of this had subsided, there was Jesus. We have to keep that in mind as people. When all else fades away, Jesus will never fade away. Even when we think we have made it to the top, it can all evaporate in an instant. But, as long as we keep looking and seeking him, we will find him because he was and will always be there. Amen.