The Mount of Transfiguration story has always puzzled me (Lk.9:28+). What was that all about anyway? Mostly I’ve heard preachers say it was Moses and Elijah coming to encourage Jesus as He faced his death. But that somehow fails to do justice to such a miraculous moment.
Luke places this intriguing event just prior to Jesus setting His face toward Jerusalem for the last time (v.31,51), although the time frame is hard to nail down. It would be interesting if this was about six months prior to the Passover, near the Feast of Booths (Feast of Tabernacles) which might explain why Peter wanted to build booths for everybody. But the context clearly has in mind Jesus’ impending death.
Here we have key representatives for the Law, the Prophets (promise), and Grace — the entire spectrum of salvation history — in one place at one time, talking about what Jesus was about to accomplish — the fulfillment of all they had been working toward for hundreds of years. The Law had revealed God’s holy character and His blueprint for humanity; the prophets had promised over and over a way to make this all a reality; and Jesus was about to complete the long-awaited task of reuniting people with God.
And as Jesus is “looking forward at the joy set before Him” (Heb.12:2) we see the door of the Kingdom slightly ajar, light streaming through the doorway and engulfing the Messiah who has come to reclaim the planet for God (see N.T. Wright: How God Became King). There was no way Peter could know he was standing on the threshold of a new era, witnessing the culmination of all God set out to do when He longed to restore us to Himself. This was the Summit Meeting of those who had joined with the Father to take back the earth and establish the reign of God among people.
What a glorious moment! We can hear the cry of creation (Rom.8:22) and I feel the cry of my own body and soul, “Come, Lord Jesus and reclaim this heart! I for one want to be in on your restoration of all of life. Restore every nook and cranny and teach me your ways, so that I may become one who can work with you in this amazing endeavor.”