If I had to pick one major gap in my childhood Christian education, it would be the Transfiguration. I either didn’t hear about it at all or so little importance was placed on it, that I didn’t know what it was until I was 15. And then it struck me as, “This sounds like kind of a big deal. Why is no one talking about this?” I learned the story, but then never investigated any meaning behind it. It struck me as powerful and important and beautiful, yet I had no idea why.
Later, I was still drawn to it, but explainations I found always seemed lacking. Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a mountain, where they watch him in a bright light of divinity. Moses and Elijah appear on either side of Jesus. Similar to his baptism, a voice from heaven announces, “This is my Son. Listen to him.” So it's a throwback to his baptism, a display of his place uniting the Law and the Prophets, and a showcase of his divinity. But it seems like so much more than just an indicator of other things. There is weight and significance on its own, surely. Yet, it seems to be treated as a footnote by many. I just know that if I were Peter or James or John, this is an experience that would alter my life (and I believe it did alter theirs). I feel like I'm missing the real point of it, and that maybe I'm not ready to understand it.
While in the midst of things, Peter suggests building tabernacles there to honor Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. And like always, a disciple gets it wrong. He wants to stay on the mountain and relish in this beautiful holy moment, but the moment is swift, and it points towards things to come (Christ’s Passion). They have to leave the mountain. I think I look at the Transfiguration the same way many of the disciples looked at Jesus. The meaning and theology isn’t all worked out, but the recognition of something super important is there. And I’m definitely one who wants to just stay on the mountain enjoying the radiance instead of coming back down and doing the dirty work.