Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:1-5)
It Seemed Like A Good Idea
Peter was a devoted disciple of Christ that despite his often blunders of judgment; had an incredible heart of love for the Lord. He is a wonderful study of how a man goes from being an impetuous and rash decision-maker to the humble and spiritually-minded man of his final epistles. Along with James and John, Peter shared a special bond with Jesus allowing the three men to see things the other disciples did not see. The mount of transfiguration was a moment in time that Peter would never forget writing about it in his epistles. Standing on the mountain with Jesus, the three disciples beheld the visage of Moses and Elijah. What an incredible moment in time to witness the personal image of men who represented the Law and the Prophets and long before the days of imaging were able to see what these great men of faith looked like. Overwhelmed by the momentous occasion of listening to Jesus talk with Moses and Elijah about his death, Peter interrupted the Lord and thought it would be a good idea to build three tabernacles; one for the Lord, one for Moses and one for Elijah. This could have been Peter’s attempt to recreate the Feast of Tabernacles as directed by the law. Whatever reason Peter had in blurting out this suggestion, it was met swiftly by the voice of God that such consideration was not His will and Peter and James and John should listen only to the voice of Jesus. Moses and Elijah were taken out of sight and the three men fell to the ground. Peter had a good idea that seemed like a way to honor the three great men of God’s dispensation but this was not the will of the Father.
The greatest challenge man has with his Creator is to think he has a better idea about something that he believes would please the Lord. This does not dismiss the character of Peter as being flippant or disregarding the will of the Father but it speaks to the problem of the wisdom of humanity trying to go beyond the established law of God. Is there something immoral about building tabernacles for Moses and Elijah and Jesus? There is nothing fundamentally wrong about building tabernacles but it becomes wrong when it is not the will of the Father. Peter was not at fault for suggesting something but like most men, he saw the situation and decided that he had a better idea and went forward with his suggestion. If it had been in the power of Peter, James and John; three tabernacles would have been built on the mountain and many people would have been drawn to the place and great things could have been done in the name of God. However, the voice from heaven said this was not the will of the Father and all men must listen to the voice of Jesus Christ and Him alone. That is the standard of authority established that day on the mountain by the only one who had the right and authority to establish the truth. Building three tabernacles was not the will of the Father. To have done so would have been in rebellion to God.
There are many tabernacles that dot the landscape throughout the world that are good ideas of how men have interpreted the will of the Lord. In many cases, there is nothing immoral or degrading about what is done or about how it is carried out. But like the suggestion of Peter, these tabernacles are not the will of the Father and do not follow the voice of God. The Father emphatically impressed upon Peter, James, and John that Jesus was the Son of God and He pleased the Father in every way and that all men should do one thing: Hear Him! Authority begins and ends with Jesus Christ. His word is truth. His way is the only way. Life can only be found in the word of God. Departing from His word is rebellion and building tabernacles without the authority of God. Religion is not based upon the good ideas of men but the will of the Lord alone. Salvation cannot be found in the profitable suggestions of human reasoning. Many are deceived into believing they are saved when they are following the doctrines of men to perdition. Peter had a good idea but it was the wrong suggestion. Eternal life will not be given to those with good ideas but to those who obey the word of the Lord.