Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. Luke 9:28
If you follow the movements of Jesus and His disciples, the transfiguration occurred just after Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Christ. Matthew places them in the region of Caesarea Philippi at that time. If there weren’t other unrecorded movements, then the most likely candidate for the Mount of Transfiguration is the 9100 ft (2814 m) snow-capped Mount Hermon.
While Jesus and His disciples were there on the mountain, Peter, James, and John were allowed to see beyond the veil of Jesus’s humanity to the glorified Christ. It was a moment Peter still talked about decades later in his epistle, as well he should. (2 Peter 1:16-18).
Now, I’ve done a little hiking in Colorado, and even on well-maintained trails, it is no small thing to go up on a mountain, especially one as high as Hermon. But the experience is worth it.
What did Peter, James, and John experience on Hermon?
Intimacy with Jesus – They were chosen for a unique revelation of Jesus’s glory. Nine other disciples, crowds of believers, seekers, and mere miracle-seekers missed out. Jesus wasn’t transfigured in front of the 5,000. Even now, Jesus reveals more of Himself and His ways to those who are seeking intimacy with Him.
Recognition of Jesus – Peter had JUST said Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. And he was one hundred percent correct. On Mount Hermon, that declaration became a glorious reality instead of just an abstract concept. Sometimes our familiarity with the story of Jesus causes us to lose our wonder with who Jesus is. He is the God who takes us in His arms and holds us close. But how much more amazing is that when we remember He is GOD, the God who spoke the world into existence, the God who thundered on Sinai.
Refocusing on Jesus – Jesus came to earth with a purpose that He never lose sight of – the redemption of mankind. All the miracles He performed, all the lessons that He taught were in support of His overriding mission. What Peter, James, and John saw in those moments on the mountain defied description. Even so, Jesus said don’t tell anyone until after He had raised from the dead. Going to Jerusalem, fulfilling what God had called Him to do was His focus. We, too, need to refocus ourselves on our main purpose – carrying out that gospel. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the details about Jesus, in the busyness of ministry, and lose focus. Jesus lived and ministered too. But He never wavered from His purpose.
That glory that Peter and James and John saw was not a one-time thing. We will see that same glorified Christ. Think about that for just a moment. You and I will see the glorified Christ. Not only that, He will share that glory with us.
The Transfiguration was a hint of what is to come. Peter had just confessed that Jesus was the Christ. Jesus had revealed that He was headed to Jerusalem to die, but then rise the third day. Then Christ showed His inner circle His glory. It was the final revelation, the final piece of work Jesus was to accomplish.
Even though we look back at most of it, I’m not sure we understand it much more than Peter and the guys did that day on that mountain. Hermon invites us to climb the mountain. Pray. See Him in all His glory.