I think Matthew 17:1-13 might be some of the most understated story telling ever. You have Jesus taking three of his friends out alone on a camping trip. While they are up on this mountain, Moses and Elijah, who by the way have been dead for hundreds of years, show up. Jesus talks with them, and Peter, James, and John watch. Somehow, Peter recognizes who the dead guys are, maybe Jesus called them by name, and decides to interrupt the conversation. Now, I don’t know about you, but if Jesus is talking to dead people, who I can see, I’m not interrupting. But Peter decides to. So he butts in and says to Jesus “I know you haven’t thought about this, but we’d like to stay here with you guys. This is WAY cool, and we could build some little buildings and just live here, the six of us. We’ll even build shelter for the three of you, since living dead people need shelter.”
But Jesus’ Dad isn’t keen on it. He shows up and tells them that Jesus is His son, He’s proud of Him, so be quiet and listen to Him. Well, that freaks out the three, and it’s not so fun being there anymore. They hit the deck, terrified. Jesus tells them to get up and quit freaking out, and when they look, the whole little paradise is ruined and its just them and Jesus.
The party’s over.
No living dead famous people.
No chance of escaping life and living in a private heaven.
Peter, and probably James and John, missed it. They saw something amazing. They were part of it. It blew their minds. They never felt so close to God. They loved it. They wanted to keep it like that forever. I mean, surely this was the logical result of following Jesus, of working so hard to serve the poor, to study the Scriptures, to take misunderstood abuse from others, to sacrificing so much to become who God wanted them to be. It had all lead to this glorious moment. They were there. They were in it. They wanted to keep it!
And God said no.
Because they missed it. The moment wasn’t about them. It was about Jesus. He needed to speak with Moses and Elijah. They got to sit on the front row and see what Jesus was doing. But it wasn’t about them. It never was, it never would be. It was about Him. And when they tried to claim ownership, it faded from view and was gone.
Yeah, see where this goes. I do THAT all the time. Jesus is working, its amazing, and I want to freeze life in that moment. I want to stay in that sweet spot, and never leave. God works at camp on a bunch of kids, a family trusts Jesus in a tough time and the blessings and miracles flow, God blesses my family in some crazy way, and I want it to last forever. Surely this was the goal all along. This is where I was trying to get to. I deserve to stay here.
And then it’s gone.
It’s about Him. I’m just along for the ride.
And He tells me, let’s go back down the mountain to the poor, the hurting, the needy, the broken. That’s our goal. That’s where we are supposed to be.
Listen to me, He says. I’m the beloved Son. I know what I’m doing.