"Peter, isn't it strange that we're still here after six days." the smaller man asked.
"Why do you think that John?" the burly fisherman replied.
"I'll tell you why Peter," Mocked dJames, "because John doesn't like to sit still for long. Even when he's out fishing he wants to be elsewhere."
"James, I just don't understand why Jesus stays around this town. But I, well, I do want to see something else."
"Patience young John," Peter replied chuckling, "If there is anything I've learned, it's that Jesus moves in some appointed time and not until then. We can wait."
"Yes, be patient little brother." James spoke as he laughed. "Sit down, rest, and eat. We may not get many more chances."
"You don't have any more patience than I do big brother."
"Quit your bickering" Peter snapped. "You both sound like two clouds thundering away at one another."
After breakfast the three men settled into the day. Chores needed to be done in the village; John would mend nets, James noticed a sail needed repair, and Peter helped a neighbor bring their boat to shore to replace a board that had cracked on the hull. Physical labor was natural for these men and it provided them great satisfaction to serve others in this area of Israel. The gentle breeze, green rolling hills, and smells of their trade simply made their effort more enjoyable. So they worked steady until the mid-day meal.
James returned to the house first and he prepared lunch for the three men and Jesus when he returned. "Fish and bread again." he spoke out loud.
"Ha! Caught you complaining James." Peter said as he entered the door surprising the tall man.
Blushing slightly James turned away and replied, "I do my best not to. I guess I am tired of waiting for Jesus too."
John entered just as James finished speaking. "Lunch. I'm as hungry as a bear!" he exclaimed.
"Yes! But only as big as a cub! Ha, ha, ha." Peter jokingly countered.
"True, true my friend. But not as hairy as one." John retorted laughing back.
"Quit your snickering James," Peter said with a smile as he looked over at him, "…or I'll squish you after I take care of the little man over here.”
"Please, a peace offering for the big fisherman." John said as he quickly put a slab of bread and a dried fish on a plate, bowed and gave it to Peter as he backed away.
There was a brief pause; then the three men smiled at one another and began to laugh heartily. After their meal each began to look for a comfortable place to rest during the afternoon. John found the cool air from the open window facing a shaded alley refreshing, James laid his head on his arms at the table, while Peter chose to spread out on the bed near the cool wall. Rest came quickly to each of the men after a good meal and fresh air while working.
Walking down the alley another man began to reflect. The past months had been difficult for the foreigner and His emotions had worn thin. “My God,” He thought, “I long for you. I long to see you again. The temptations of this world weigh heavy on my spirit. I am reminded of your servant David when He wrote, ”“As the deer pants for the water so my soul longs after Thee.”" Jesus continued to pray as He walked to where He and the other three were staying. Jesus didn't speak as he entered the house. At first, he simply gazed at the men and somehow saw them sleeping at a different time. A time they could not know, but soon would. A time when they would see that "… the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak."
"My friends." Jesus said loud enough to wake but not to startle them. “Wake up from your slumber. I have something for you to see." James slowly raised his head and scared a mouse that was nibbling on a piece of bread, Peter slowly sat upright and stretched his broad shoulders, and John opened his eyes gently and began to rub the sleep from them. "Come. Follow me." Jesus said as each one stood to his feet. The three men simply obeyed their teacher and walked out the door.
Entering an alley they walked toward an opening that led them to a sunlit street. There were only a few people passing them on this road that merged with the town’s main thoroughfare where a few young children played tag in the warmth of the late afternoon sun. The men's pace quickened as they entered the main street and merged with the rest of the people buying and selling. There they walked in pairs; Peter, smiling to himself grabbed John around the neck and began to rub the smaller mans head. "Call me hairy will you? I'll rub your head balled, then you'll look even more like James."
"Peter." called a voice in a nearby crowd, "Don't be to rough with him, he's suppose to help Aaron and I tomorrow by the lake."
"Don't worry, I'll leave just enough of him to help you out." Peter bellowed as he continued to play with the young man who tried to squirm free.
Jesus and James smiled and looked at each other then at the two in the front. "I'll lead Peter...unless of course you know where I'm going." Said Jesus.
Caught slightly off guard, John and Peter quit their horseplay and split, allowing Jesus and James to pass. As they neared the gate of the town John noticed that their group was the only one that was leaving the city.
"Jesus," he asked, "will we be gone after they have locked the gate?"
"We will come back when we're done." Jesus replied.
The road was well traveled and hard packed from the decades of carts, merchants, and marching Roman soldiers. Many of the trees had been cut down along the way but there were saplings reaching skyward. As the foursome walked the sun gently set behind the foothills. The moon had risen before the sun had completely disappeared and Peter noticed the change from sun to moon light and remembered his realization of who this Jesus was. They continued to travel the road until only the moon lit their way.
"John, do you remember when we recognized Jesus as The Christ?" Asked Peter.
"Yes." John replied flatly. "Why?"
"I'm not sure. I just remembered it and, well...never mind." Peter said as he shook his head wondering why that thought came to mind.
Abruptly, Jesus turned and began to traverse up an unnamed mountainside.
Strange, thought Peter, how we turned just as I remembered that revelation from God. I wonder if I will see something else? At that instant he happened to catch Jesus looking at him with joy in His eyes.
“It's as if He knows what I think before I do.” Peter continued.
James looked at John and shrugged his shoulders saying, "I guess we go up?"
Jesus seemed to be walking at an increasing pace, His footsteps sure and strong.
"Uhgg." Peter groaned as he stumbled. "The shadows from the moonlight make it hard to see. Be careful." He said to the others, his toe throbbing.
"James," John whispered, "Are we meeting someone else up here?"
"It's hard to tell John." he replied as the older brother began to feel a slight burning in his thighs from hiking.
Just as their pace began to slow and the grade of the hill leveled off Peter said, "Be careful, it seems the clouds have shaded the moon. I'm sure..."
"This will do my friends." Jesus interrupted, turned and faced the men, "I'll be a short distance from here. Just wait until I return."
"Do you suppose He's going to pray?" James asked the other two as Jesus walked away.
"I guess so." replied John shrugging his shoulders.
"You two, be still so the Master can do whatever He has to." Peter whispered loudly. "Just relax and rest. When He's ready He'll show us why we are here."
The three men, quiet now, began to drift off to sleep as gently as a boat slowly being taken out to sea on a warm water current. The change from being awake to sleep was so overwhelming and peaceful that they were unable to hear the heart of the Son as he knelt and spoke to his unseen Father.
"I've grown weary of this task. Men still have not recognized that you live in me and their ears seem dull to the words you've given me. I ask you to show them who you are, that you would open their ears to the words that you've placed on my heart to share with them."
Time had no meaning for him in the spirit, but praying seemed more difficult as he neared his chosen work. Then as his prayers became more fervent, the appearance of his hand-cupped face was altered. Words cannot explain how Jesus began to change. It was as if He was still the same man but not made as an image of the Creator. He appeared instead as the Creator; as if he were made of something foreign to man; an image of man, but clearly not. His face shone like the sun and his robe a glistening white. He remembered how this felt. He remembered what it was to live in the direct light as the Living God, full of glory. It was no longer an effort to pray, because Jesus knew that at this moment in the time of man he was dwelling in the eternal presence of the one who sent him. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit now one, once again; as much in place as in purpose; The Triune Godhead. Then appearing on either side of him were two men, men whose stature seemed as great as Jesus, yet they spoke to Him as counselors would speak to a king.
Peter woke first. "What? Have I slept into the morning?" The light on the mountain was more glaring than the blazing sun reflecting off the water.
After looking at the source of the light Peter rolled over and crawled on his hands and knees to his companions. More anxious than afraid he said, "James. John. Wake up and see."
"Leave me alone Peter, can't you see tha..." John peered with confusion at first.
"What's happening?" James asked.
When both men looked over at James they saw him staring at the sight of the three glowing men speaking with one another. Jesus looked at His disciples and said, "Here are Moses and Elijah. They have been sent to comfort me."
The men were now very aware of who Jesus was. They had seen his miracles and heard his words, but to see him in the light of God was far different than to see him walk in the light of day.
Pulling at James cloak John spoke to his companions, "What should we do?"
James replied, "This ground is holy; no less than on the mountain that God himself spoke to Moses."
Then Peter began to think of how to honor the three men shining with God's glory. He began to reason in his heart and mind of how he might capture this moment in time. Then he said to Jesus "Lord it is good for us to be here;" pointing at James and John then looking again at his teacher he continued, "if you wish, let us make here three tabernacles; one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. What…"
While he was still speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them and they became uneasy. It was cool and pleasant but its appearance was filled with the unknown. Suddenly a voice surrounded them like the cloud saying, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear Him!" And when the disciples heard it they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.
Peter had never known such fear. Not fear from evil but fear that the presence he had read and heard about from his youth was in fact…real. This presence had reached into his soul and he now knew that his life was just a vapor.
“It seems as if I'm being held down against my own will and at the same time I choose to bow before the presence that surrounds me. Are Peter and John all right? I dare not open my eyes.” James thought to himself. “This is to much for me. How can I bare to be in the presence of the Almighty. All I can sense is how unworthy I am to be here. You are Holy indeed." He said under his breath.
At the statement of James none of the men noticed the light faded. They couldn't see that the two counselors of the King had returned to the throne room of God. Their hearing had been dulled by the sense of sin in their lives. Not one of them could tell in any way that Jesus had returned to what He had come into this life to be, a man.
It was Peter who felt it at first, a sense of calm, the feeling that the immortal no longer dwelt with the mortal. That the eternal was back in its place and the temporal could once again stand. They didn't notice that Jesus had walked up to them.
"Arise, don’t be afraid." He said with assurance and comfort.
What else could they do but obey the Son they were told to listen to. And so when they had lifted up their eyes they saw no one but Jesus. The cloud had lifted, shadows made by the moonlight reappeared, and Jesus' glory was now displayed by the peace that showed in His eyes.
"Come my friends, we have seen with our eyes and heard with our ears what we need."
The three men quickly got up and began to follow their teacher; a man who they would never look on again with the same perspective. They followed him down the mountain, the trail no less awkward than before the miracle they had witnessed. Thorns still tore at their clothes and stones still got in the way.
As they were coming down the mountain Jesus stopped and turned to the men and said, "Do not speak of these things to anyone. Do not speak of them until you have seen that the Son of Man has risen from the dead." Then he turned again and began to walk down the mountainside.
"I don't understand James, why doesn't Jesus want us to share this mighty thing we have seen? To witness God's glory, to see Elijah and Moses. It seems to much for me to even believe."
After speaking John listened for an answer. It came after some thought.
"John, we must believe what we have seen and heard." Replied James. Then he asked Peter, "What does He mean ‘rise from the dead?’" Peter's answer made James wish He hadn't asked. "My friends, in some ways I believe we will find out soon enough. Come, let's go home."