Every now and then you’ll have those moments in life where you can feel God’s blessings and glory surround you. You get those moments where everything is going beautifully, where you feel like you’ve been lifted out of this world of sorrows and sufferings. And when those moments happen, you don’t want them to end. So you start praying for God to keep you surrounded by the glory so you don’t have to go back down the mountain into the realm of hardship. “God, please let my body stay free from pain. God, please don’t let my children fall back into temptation. Please don’t let my wife get devoured by sorrow again.”
This is a prayer St. Peter knew well. As St. Peter was on that mountain top, he saw Jesus shining in the splendor of heaven and he became overwhelmed by a foretaste of salvation. But he also hears Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah. And as Luke’s account of the Transfiguration tells us, they were speaking about Christ’s departure to Jerusalem. They were talking about His crucifixion, where He was going to be betrayed, crucified, and killed. There as Peter was feasting on the splendor, Jesus was talking about going down the mountain and drinking the cup of sorrow.
And Peter wanted none of this, which is why in his hazy-minded state, he told Jesus ““Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” In other words, “Lord, please let me stay. Please don’t make me go back into that world of betrayal and violence, that world of crucifixions and sufferings, that world of sorrow and sin. I’ve tasted glory. Don’t make me taste sorrow.”
But there were still suffering sinners to save. There were still lost sheep who needed to be rescued from the jaws of the wolf. Peter’s world was still filled with the weary who needed Christ’s word of salvation, so he couldn’t stay. And thanks be to God, he didn’t. Peter came down that mountain with His Lord and preached the Gospel of the One who died, rose, and ascended to the right hand of God.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God who veiled His Father’s glory, went to the cross and poured Himself out for you so that you could share His glory forever. There at the cross, God’s Lamb shed the blood that destroyed your sins and made you worthy of eternal life. There, the Good Shepherd tore to pieces the wolf who was devouring you. On the third day, He rose from the grave, conquering death and promising that whoever believed in Him would one day walk into the kingdom with Him, the kingdom that He makes your own every time He stands beside His Father and declares you worthy of eternal life.
So be at peace. The day is coming when all your sorrow will melt forever as you hear the voice of God echo to you the words He spoke about Christ on the mountain of the transfiguration: “you are my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.” The day is coming when the misery of this life will be forgotten forever as you are clothed in the glory of Jesus Christ.
And until that day, speak the name of Christ to the lost sheep. Confess His salvation to your friends and neighbors. Go down the mountain and walk through the muck of sorrow with those who are suffering, pointing their eyes to Jesus, so that they may receive the same reward you have receive, so that they may receive the neverending glory of Jesus Christ.