At that time, Jesus taketh unto him Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: And he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him. And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo a voice out of the cloud, saying: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him.” And the disciples hearing fell upon their face, and were very much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them: and said to them: “Arise, and fear not.” And they lifting up their eyes, saw no one, but only Jesus.
And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: “Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of man be risen from the dead.” Matthew 17:1-9
Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of man be risen from the dead.
When someone has a vision, the instinct may be in all the excitement to share the vision, the share the experience with everyone. That’s our culture! Share right away.
But there’s something to be said about waiting, about thinking about the context of what was seen, about understanding the message that was behind what we saw.
Visions are special moments in time that have several significant aspects. They are gifts to remind us of our place in Creation, they are bookmarks that God uses to touch us in special ways, ways that are meant to shake us up, sometimes even scare us, or wake us up from complacency. They can be moments that we don’t recognize until years, sometimes decades later.
Peter, James, and John all experienced something wonderful, something terrifying. Peter in his rush to express offered to build tents for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. What was he thinking? In his fear, he says to the three: “Let me build you a tent!”
James and John are silent, I suspect, because they are terrified. Peter is likewise terrified, but he speaks in his terror. That’s how Peter rolls.
To make matters worse, God comes in a cloud and speaks.
Try to imagine the terror, the absolute primal fear Peter, James, and John must have been feeling.
Then Jesus comes to them, touches them with his words, his compassion, and comforts them. Maybe Jesus recognized that the three just flat out had too much on their plate. Or maybe, these three were meant to witness, meant to have the moment imprinted upon their souls in this way, so that when the resurrection happened they would have no doubt. After all, we human beings tend to be somewhat dense. We forget things, even things that have scarred us. Just when you think we’ll stop doing something stupid after a life changing event, we go right back to doing the same behavior.
We are gifted the sense to know these moments when God has given us a shake, or a hug, or a push. Sometimes we need to take a breath, consider the context of that shake, or hug, or push, and ask ourselves: what do I need to do, or what do I need to stop doing?