If only those mountain top experiences, would last a lifetime. Too soon we need to get in the car and leave the vista. Too soon a cloud comes or a storm and we have to head down the mountain.
The Transfiguration in Luke was like that. Peter wanted to memorialize the event, put up three tents. But Luke tells us, “He didn’t know what he was talking about.” However, when we look at the context of Luke 9:28-36 we see what the Transfiguration was about.
In 9:18-20, Jesus asks who people are saying his is, and he follows that up with a personal question, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter makes a glorious confession, “You are the Christ of God.” “You are the Messiah.”
Immediately Jesus charges them to not tell anyone who he is, because He must,” Suffer many things… be rejected…killed and on the third day be raised.” Jesus follows the prediction of his suffering by talking about what his disciples will suffer. Each person must take of his cross and follow him. His disciples save their lives by losing it for his sake.
Then Jesus ascends the mountain with Peter, James and John to pray. During his prayer he is transfigured, his faced altered and his clothes become dazzling white. Moses and Elijah appear. However, they don’t discuss Jesus’ glory but his “exodus, his departure for Jerusalem where he will suffer, die, rise again and ascend to the Father. A voice declares Jesus to be his Son, his Chosen One therefore, listen to him.
Then in verses 37-43, they come down the mountain only to encounter a great crowd unhappy because the disciples left at the base, could not cast out a destructive spirit from a boy. Jesus rebuked the spirit and the spirit came out of the son.
In the order of things in the Gospel of Luke, the cross comes before the glory of the resurrection. Though Peter and we, ourselves would like to cling to moments of glory that happen in our life, that is not the order of things. We live under the cross before we live eternally around the throne of God.