5And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
It is “good to be here.” That’s what Peter said. But what was good about it? And why was it so good? I love to think about the details of Scripture and let our faith explore and ask questions of the Bible. It’s good to be here. What was good about being there on that mountain?
It’s good to be here. Yes, it is also good that you are here this morning. But what is good about it? And why is it good. You often hear that it is good to go to church, but people want to know why it’s good and what exactly is so good about being here?
After all, we want to know that too. Because, let’s be honest, sometimes actually getting “here” isn’t so good. Maybe the morning came too quickly, the kids wouldn’t get ready when they were supposed to, or you were in a hurry and got in an argument on the way, and now are not in the right frame of mind.
Perhaps your body is hurting too much, and getting up out of bed much less getting here, was a chore. Or maybe arriving here reminds you of the loss of your loved one and it stings each time you go through those doors. Yes, sometimes we find that getting to where it is good to be is a journey that is not always so good.
It is good to be here. More than a mere gathering of friends and acquaintances, it is good to be here because like Peter, James and John, you have gathered around Jesus. The same very Jesus they followed up that mountain, today you gather around His sacramental body and blood. And there is something powerfully good about that! To be where Jesus is brings a powerful hope and a marvelous comfort.
Rabbi, it is good that we are here… So what did Peter think was good about being on that mountain? Was it a nice view? Was the air clean and warm? Did they find a nice grassy spot to lie down on? What was good about it?
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” The text tells us that it is not what was there that was good, but who was there that made it good. And did you note who all was there?
There appear with Jesus two great icons of the Old Testament. On one side is Moses, the great Law giver and deliverer of God’s people from slavery. He carried the stone tablets of the 10 commandments. He parted the Red Sea and led God’s people to the promise land.
On the other side is Elijah, the great Old Testament prophet. He defeated 450 prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel, remained faithful in the face of great persecution, and was taken to heaven by a great fiery whirlwind.
We are not told how Peter knows who they are. And since there is no Bible picture directory that we know of that he could have referenced, we can assume that he knew their identity by divine intervention. Even so, that Peter, James, and John see them in bodily form is quite remarkable.
The bodily presence of Moses and Elijah reminds us that our physical bodies are precious to the Lord. Our bodies were a part of His creation that He called “good.” (Your body is precious in God’s sight. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.)
Moses and Elijah appear in bodily form and are standing next to Jesus as His divinity is brilliantly shining through His very body and blood. Elijah we know was taken up bodily into heaven. So it would only seem logical that he would appear with his physical appearance. However, Moses we are told was buried by God Himself. So did God take up his body into heaven before He buried him or simply raise Him from the dead? We aren’t told.
The bodily presence of Moses and Elijah with Jesus points to the fulfillment of God’s promise given through them so long ago; and which was now being accomplished through the bodily presence of His Son, Jesus Christ. Their bodies are a reminder to us that the precious bodies of our loved ones who have died in the Lord will one day be made whole again.
Their bodies are a reminder that your body, which may have been defiled, shamed, or maimed, is precious to Jesus and is made whole and pure by the body and blood of Jesus here today. Yes, it is good to be here!
The promises foretold in the Old Testament were now being fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The presence of Moses and Elijah put an exclamation point on that. When Peter sees all three of them together in one divine and magnificently terrifying moment, he declares: “It’s good to be here.”
If only we could have a mountain top experience like that! What we wouldn’t give to pitch a tent and find some divine shelter from all the chaos, the hurt, and madness of this world.
Too many times you and I look around our life and say, “Here, again?” Another long day, another fight, another lie, another bodily indiscretion, another disappointment, another question of “Why?” You look around saying, “Here, again. This is definitely not good to be here.”
Sin does that to you. It misleads you into a mountain of arrogance or crushes you under a mountain of guilt and shame. Such mountains are difficult to overcome—unless Jesus happens to be on that mountain with you.
There on that mount of transfiguration a blazing light of hope shines out for you. Jesus is revealed as Almighty God in the flesh. Whether you are standing atop a mountain of arrogance and idolatry or buried beneath a mountain of hurt and shame, Jesus stands with you, calling for you, and loving you.
It is good to be here because Jesus has sent me here to tell you that no matter what you have done, no matter what has been done to you, or what is happening to you, He promises to love you and give Himself to you here today.
Though it may be terrifying, (like the text says it was for Peter on that mountain), it is nonetheless very good to be standing with Jesus. For you see, Jesus invites you to follow Him, to go down that mount of Transfiguration and follow Him up another.
On this particular mountain, Jesus is transformed as well. But rather than appearing in divine radiance and unlimited power, here His appearance became disfigured and marred. On this hill, His form became so gruesome He was one from whom men hid their faces.
Still, He invites you to come with Him to the mountain of Calvary, to see Him on the cross, to see your sins taken onto Himself, your hurt taken upon Himself, and your sorrow taken into Himself. You are invited to stand with Him on that mountain and to see, as terrifying as it is, that “it is good to be here.”
Then you watch as His precious body is carried to the tomb. You see it carefully wrapped and gently laid in the tomb. The very body which had been transfigured in a blaze of divine glory is now lying disfigured by torture and death. Yet you are invited to follow Jesus into that tomb, into His death, and, as difficult as it is, to see, “It is good to be here.”
How can it be good to be here? That’s also what we ask in the midst of pain and strife. How can it be good to be here? That’s what we ask in the midst of suffering and death. How is it good to be here? It is good because you are with Jesus. And when you are with Jesus, be it on a mountain, under a mountain, on a cross, in the grave, or at His table, you are with Almighty God Himself.
Pain cannot stop Him. Sin cannot destroy Him. And death cannot hold Him. So when you are baptized into Jesus, you go where He goes, and He goes where you go. This means your failures, sin, and heartache is drenched in the unconditional love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.
Yes, it is good to be here, right now, on this very day. For the same Jesus who stood on that mountain, bore that cross, and rose from the dead is set before you today. His very body and blood put into your mouth and into your lives, to give you hope, heal your hurts, and cleanse your body. “It is good to be here!”
This is a foretaste of what is to come. As Jesus’ dead body was transfigured from death to life in a blaze of almighty Easter glory, your body will be resurrected in the almighty light of Jesus’ eternal glory. There you will stand in the flesh, risen and glorified, with your Lord Jesus, and with all the saints—with Moses, Elijah, and all those who went before you—and there you will all declare, “It is good to be here.” Amen.