“In the face of perplexing situations, we naturally respond with what we know and understand—we even take refuge in familiar traditions. This is precisely how Jesus’ disciples respond when Jesus is transfigured before them.
After Jesus is transformed and Moses and Elijah appear, Peter says, ‘Rabbi, it is good that we are here! And let us make three shelters, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah’ (Mark 9:5). Peter is drawing on the Festival of Tabernacles (or Booths), which celebrated God’s dwelling among His people (Lev 23:42–43). Peter isn’t certain how to respond, so he evokes a tradition. At least Peter understands that this confusing event shows God at work among His people.
But is Peter’s response the correct one? Mark gives us a hint in an aside: ‘For [Peter] did not know what he should answer, because they [Peter, James, and John] were terrified’ (Mark 9:6). It’s not surprising that Peter has trouble understanding this situation—who could? But his response, underscored by the editorial aside in Mark, suggests something larger about how we, as the audience of this Gospel, should understand Jesus.
When Jesus reveals Himself to us—really inaugurates His reign in our lives—it may be terrifying, but we do not need to resort to our traditions to understand it. By going back to our old ways, we might lose sight of the point of God’s work altogether. Instead, we must be ready to accept what is new.”
When I read that this morning I was reminded of what Jesus said in Matthew 9:17. “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”
We all want a fresh revelation from God, but that revelation always comes with the challenge of following the leadership of the Spirit into a paradigm of living and serving.