That the account of the transfixion is recorded in all three Synoptic gospels suggests its importance in the early church. Let’s review the story noting what Jesus did, rather than what he said, in order to learn how we can become more like him. Granted, this is a special occasion (God speaks from heaven identifying Jesus as his son) not one in which we are liable to find ourselves.
The first thing I notice is that he went to a high mountain where, in his words, “we could be alone.” If the Son of God needs an occasional break, it probably isn’t necessary that the contemporary pastor to be on call 24/7. What we view as commitment could well be our personal desire to achieve, an expression of pride. What Jesus is saying to the task driven minister is, “Time for a high mountain experience where being alone will bring renewal.”
While Jesus was praying he was transfigured and two Old Testament notables joined him in that glorious setting to discuss his coming death and resurrection. Wouldn’t you know it, “Peter, James, and John had grown sleepy.” But not a word of censure from their leader; not even when Peter suggested memorializing the event by building shrines. Jesus recognized that Peter was missing the true glory of the event, still thinking in earthly terms, but no words of rebuke are recorded. Being like Jesus often calls us to overlook the failure of others. There is a time for proper instruction but there is also a time to skip it.
One last thing: When the disciples heard the voice of God from heaven they fell to the ground overcome with fear. Had Jesus been one of us he may have said, “Serves them right. First, they missed the transfiguration being asleep; second, when they woke up Peter came up with a very secular idea; and finally, when God spoke from heaven they lost control and fell to the ground.” But Jesus “stepped forward and touched them” saying, “Stand to your feet; don’t be afraid.” Once again we see that quiet gentleness with which he mentored his own. In this incident, which involved such a unique display of heavenly glory, he continued to lovingly guide his disciples in the way that would be most helpful.
So here are three things we can learn from Jesus: take it easy now and then, resist correcting the other, love them anyway.