Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here…”
Mark 9:5 (NIV)
My mother has a rule not to discuss her life before she came to Christ. The generalized (and assumed-to-be watered-down) version of events is that she ran a tumultuous childhood until her father died. She dropped out of college, looking for a religion or ideology to call home – and she tried them all. Then, she met my father, and once they gave birth to my sister, the pressure to pass on a healthy legacy overtook both of them. They became involved in a church and wah-lah, here I am with my extraordinarily devout parents. My brother and I used to beg my mother to “give us the goods,” that is, to tell us all the dirt and sins and mistakes of her life, but she would and has also continued to balk at this. “You don’t need to know about my life before Christ,” she says. “It’s something I just do not like to think about anymore.”
My father’s childhood was similarly veiled while I was growing up, but one day, an odd mood struck him. We walked across the street to our neighborhood pizza joint and plopped down in one of the booths. And when I shoved the first bite of pizza in my mouth, he said, “You can ask me whatever you want.” There was always one area of intrigue about my Dad’s past: his first marriage before my mother. He agreed to tell the story.
See he met his first wife during high school, sweethearts throughout, and they immediately married post-graduation. And in lieu of any sort of college education, he joined the army, unaware that the Vietnam War was secretly revving up in the background. When news came down from his station sergeant, they all knew the inevitable – all these boys were going to be shipped off to Vietnam, the first boots on the ground for what would surely be a long and brutal fight.
He prepared to go. He made his peace.
And then, with just a few weeks until deployment, he sauntered into his home, opened the door to his bedroom, and found his sergeant in bed with his wife. They jumped up, mortified, but he just closed the door behind him. He slept on a friend’s couch. And then, when he reported for duty the next morning, this sergeant called him into his office to give him an update on his deployment. Vietnam was no longer on the table, and instead, they were sending him to Alaska. Now, that dark, cold assignment is usually saved for the worst men in the bunch, but my father had a thought that perhaps this was his way of making amends.
I slept with your wife. So no war for you.
Jesus reveals himself to Peter, John, and James during an event he dubs the “transfiguration.” They go up to the top of a mountain, where Jesus appears to be the brightest white imaginable. Then, Moses and Elijah step down and join them, and the disciples fall to the floor prostrate. Finally, a cloud envelops all of them, and the voice of God is heard… affirming Jesus’ stature as His son and encouraging them to believe.
This is a profound moment for the disciples, as they finally experience first hand the awesome power of Jesus and his divine connection to God. Suddenly, they get it. They have a new perspective on this man that they have been following for years now, all because he revealed his true nature.
And I have to say, when my father told me about his past, I understood him – and it only added to my adoration of his stature.