Game Changer Week 4: Devotional Day 4
DAY 4 – Thursday
Exodus 24:12; 25:8-9; 1 Kings 19:10; Mark 8:31-33; 9:2-6
Why does Peter want to make three tents? Use a Study Bible to understand the significance of Moses and Elijah.
It probably strikes us modern readers as odd that Peter would suggest that they build three tents. Tents, after all, evoke camping trips and sleeping bags for us. But Peter had the rich history of Israel in mind and the hospitality of Middle Eastern culture (which abides even to this day). For Peter, the offer to build a tent, or a tabernacle we might say, was an invitation to stay a little bit longer, with overtones of deep reverence. He had in mind the tabernacle of Yahweh, in which he dwelt in the midst of the people Israel. Surely, you can imagine Peter thinking, God has come to dwell among his people again.
That perspective was only heightened by the presence of Moses and Elijah. To an Israelite, these men represented the law and the prophets respectively (see Exodus 24:12 and 1 Kings 19:10 for salient examples of that). “The Law and the Prophets” was shorthand for the entirety of the Old Testament Scriptures, and there they were standing next to Jesus. That’s quite an endorsement.
But Peter didn’t quite understand what was going on. It was clear from an earlier tangle with Jesus that Peter didn’t expect Jesus to suffer. In fact, Peter expected Jesus to do what he was doing just there on the mount: appear in glory… and then take his rightful place as king.
The irony is that Jesus didn’t intend to stay, he intended to leave in a way that Peter just couldn’t swallow. In fact, the parallel transfiguration passage in Luke 9:31 says that what Moses and Elijah were talking about was his departure, literally his exodus. Both Moses and Elijah had their own unique exodus experiences; from Egypt, from this world. Most importantly, their experiences shared in common one important trait: suffering.
Peter, passionate but short-sighted, sincere but goofy, was missing something key about who Jesus is: his glory and his suffering are intertwined.
Imagine, given what you know of the stories of Moses and Elijah, what that mountain-top conversation may have been like.