They had been to the mountaintop. They saw Jesus glow with the radiance of God. They saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus. They heard the voice of God.
I wonder if they thought they knew how God’s marvelous plan would unfold.
And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean. And they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” And he said to them, “Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.”
As Jews, Peter, James and John had been indoctrinated in rabbinic tradition. They believed the Messiah would come in might and power. Spectacular pomp and circumstance!
They were expecting a Messiah to deliver them from the tyranny of Rome. Not a Savior that would suffer! They were awaiting a great King to establish a vast kingdom. A superhero to save the day, right the wrongs and stomp out the oppressors.
Jesus is not what they expected.
They knew the writings of the prophets. That’s why they asked about Elijah.
Did they forget the writings of the prophet Isaiah?
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
Did they close their eyes to the things that seemed distasteful or even painful? Or were they blinded because of their own desires?
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
I am not so different from Peter, James and John. I want all God has in the way of gifts, blessing, and victory, but I balk at His methods. I want the glorious mountaintop, not the dark valley. I want popularity, not ridicule and rejection. I want success, not struggle. I want the easy and comfortable.
So often I close my eyes to the difficult and stop up my ears to the truth.
God calls me to that which is opposite to my very nature. He calls me to what I can only do through Him. Leaning on Him. Pressing into Him. Bowing before Him.
Peter, James and John came down from the mountain that day, and in the days ahead would witness God’s ways. His mysterious, misunderstood ways. His glorious ways.
Messiah has come. His name is Jesus. He indeed conquered. And we are victorious through Him.
Thanks be to God!
"Death is swallowed up in victory."
"O death where is your victory?
O death where is your sting?"
The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:55-57