28 Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. 30 And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, 31 who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. 33 And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah“–not realizing what he was saying. 34 While he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent, and reported to no one in those days any of the things which they had seen.Luke 9:28-36
“And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah“–not realizing what he was saying.” Luke 9:33
The introduction of the “tabernacle” by Peter highlights the idea of the glory involved. It is yet another glory strand in the story as we have seen in the link with Shekinah. However it is also significant from the point of view of God’s presence with us, in the form of Jesus. The Presence contains the glory. If the Son of God is present then the glory of God is present. The Tabernacle represented God’s Presence but it also contained His glory. That is clear from what I have pointed out to you over the last few Gems. The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. We gazed on His glory, the kind of glory that belongs to the Father’s unique Son, full of grace and truth.
So when Peter makes his comment which of these concepts is in focus here? Was he focused on prolonging the glory or was he intent on preserving the Presence? Maybe Peter doesn’t know himself because Luke records that Peter did not know what he was saying. What an interesting comment! Was he caught between the two major themes of the tabernacle here – Glory or Presence? Or was he confused because he was half asleep as Luke tells us?
The interesting thing about the time that it all happened was that it was coming up to the time of Tabernacles when people would build booths anyway. So that gives lots of options as to what Peter meant.
- He could have meant let’s build three booths to preserve this moment and hold the Glory that is present.
- He could have meant let’s build three booths to house the Presence of each of you three – Jesus, Moses and Elijah.
- He could have meant let’s build three booths to encourage You three to hang around until Tabernacles.
- He could have meant let’s build three booths so we won’t lose this moment. I don’t want the Glory to disappear.
One thing is for sure that he wasn’t suggesting to build booths for the disciples. The booths were for Moses and Elijah. But why did he suggest that? Because the booths were not to house the Glory. There was only one Tent of Meeting, only one Temple. The Holy of Holies was the place for the PRESENCE to reside not the booths out in the fields. They were for each person to stay and wait for the glory. The strange thing is that the Glory was here present. They didn’t have to wait for it. He had come and was “TABERNACLING” with them. It is clear Jesus didn’t need a booth to house the glory. He WAS the GLORY. More than that He was the temple. Where He walked God was. And why did Moses and Elljah need booths? Was Peter putting them up on the same level as Jesus? They don’t need booths. Any Glory they receive or possess is vicariously through the Son of God.
The past stories of Moses and Elijah tell them (especially Peter) that any glory they had was second hand. Moses story describing the peak of his glorification is strongly telling us he received the glory directly from God but the glory he shared with the Israelites at the bottom of the mountain was the RESIDUE FROM THE AFTERGLOW. Let that sink in. Any glory shining around at the top of the Mount of Transfiguration is not from Moses or from Elijah. Oh they have glory stories but any glory they had faded long ago. If they had glory at the top of Mt Transfiguration it was reflected glory from the Son of God. Only He can contain the full Glory of God. He is the perfect receptacle and the One who was made to be glorified. Neither Moses nor Elijah could contain the full Glory of God. That is only and solely for the Son of God. No human could cope with the strength of it.
Spend sometime now thinking of what Peter meant and the nature of his confusion. Why did he say these things? What was he meaning? Don’t think on it too long because whatever you come up with is but a glimpse. Wait until we can ask Peter first hand. I will tell you in the next Gem what I think was going on here. Maybe I have had a little longer to ponder it than you but whatever I tell you is not Gospel truth. It’s only “this I say; not the Lord”.
It is so interesting that Luke wrote “Peter didn’t realize what he was saying”.
Take time to ponder these things. Maybe I will add all this to the cloud motif in the next Gem. I too don’t know what I will do. Total confusion reigns.
Sometimes I think I understand everything, and then I regain consciousness.Anon
Confidence is the feeling you have before you really understand the problem.Anon
Unless you can create the whole universe in 5 days, then perhaps giving “advice” to God isn’t such a good idea.Anon
Most people don’t get beyond their first revelation. They enshrine it, build a fence around it and stay put.Ian Vail