Throughout the Old Testament in particular the mountain is the special place where one can experience the presence and glory of God in a unique way. Moses encounters the burning bush and later receives the 10 Commandments on Mount Sinai (also known as Mount Horeb). Elijah takes refuge on the same mountain and they encounters God as the “still small voice.” Jesus now climbs to the top of a mountain to pray and experiences God’s presence in a unique way. But this will be the last time. As Jesus and these disciples descend they will now begin the journey towards Jerusalem – towards crucifixion and resurrection. Now believers will encounter God in the cross of Jesus.
Do the disciples have any inkling of what is to come? Yes. Right before this episode of the Transfiguration Peter has made his confession that Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus clearly explained that this means crucifixion and they are to pick up their cross and follow. They didn’t get it! And here on the mountain as they experience this moment of God’s glory they want to hold on to it as long as possible. Peter wants to put up tents so they can stay here forever. But it is not to be. Jesus has a journey to make and so do these disciples, and so do we. As much as we would like to hold on to certain moments we must move forward for we are on a journey as well. But because of the cross Jesus comes to us in the midst of our journey. We don’t have to climb mountains, Jesus comes to us here in the midst of our journey.