We had just finished breakfast when Jesus motioned for me to join him outside the group. “Hey Pete, we are going for a little hike, go get the Thunder Boys and meet me on that little trail that leads up the mountain outside of town.”
I felt like saying “Come on Jesus, a little hike, it’s two hours from here to the base of the mountain.” But he had one of those looks so I just went looking for James and John.
I’m sure that I’ve walked more in the past three years than I did in the first thirty years of my life combined. Seriously, if I wanted to spend my life walking, I would have become a shepherd instead of a fisherman, but it is what it is.
When I found the guys, they were in the middle of a discussion with Judas and Simon, I’m pretty sure they were scheming new plans for world domination, but the conversation ended when I showed up. I just didn’t get the entire “Let’s rule the world” thing, sounds like more problems than it would be worth.
From the time I started hanging out with James and John they had been talking about how much better life would be if we weren’t just fishermen, and how they would change things if they were in charge. But really, it was just wishful thinking, they knew things would never change. On the other hand, it gave them something to talk about to help kill the monotony of the long nights on Galilee.
Simon and Judas had brought the discussion to a whole new level, they seriously thought that Jesus had come to set up a new kingdom and rule Israel, but I guess we all secretly hoped that was the case.
Simon and I shared a name, but that was all we shared, before Jesus starting calling me Peter we all referred to Simon simply as the Zealot to avoid confusion, and that pretty much summed it up. If he wasn’t whining and whining about the Romans, he was going on about what it would take to overthrow them. But he was all talk, or so it seemed until he met Judas. In the same way that there were two Simons in the group there were two Judases and this one insisted on being called Iscariot and we never knew exactly why, but we all had our suspicions.
“John, James, a minute of your time please.” As they excused themselves from the conversation Iscariot said something under his breath that I didn’t catch. Judas always felt like he was being left out, and he resented it. And he wasn’t wrong. I don’t know why Jesus had singled the three of us out, but we spent more time with him than any of the rest of the guys. But on the other hand, the twelve of us spent more time with him than anyone else did, including his mother.
“What’s up Simon?” There times I wasn’t sure who people were talking to, with some people calling me Peter and others calling me Simon. At least when it was Peter I knew that it was me and not the Zealot they wanted.
“Jesus wants to head up the mountain.”
“Haven’t got a clue, but I’m sure that we’ll find out.”
When we go to the trail, Jesus was waiting for us, and as usual as we walked he told us stories and answered our questions.
I brought up a story that he had told the religious leaders a few days before, “Lord, what did you mean when you told the Pharisees that they weren’t defiled by what they put into their mouths, but by what came out of their mouths?”
“How did they seem to react to the story?”
“Th2y weren’t happy, I’m pretty sure you offended them.”
“Of course I did, I was questioning everything they stood for. They want to be spiritual guides, but they are spiritually blind. They are wandering in the dark themselves, and instead of trying to find the light they extoll the virtues of the darkness. In the end, it is the blind leading the blind, and that won’t end well.
“They are so concerned with what they put into their mouths. They follow every rule that the Law gives them about what they can eat and can’t eat. And there are all kinds of reasons that those laws are in place, there are reasons we need to follow them. But in the end, whatever goes in ends up coming out. And it doesn’t define who we are, it’s only a part of us for a little while.
“But the words that come out of your mouth, they reveal what is hidden in our hearts. What we say, reveals what we think and who we are. You don’t have to listen to Aaron and his like very long before you discover what’s hiding in their hearts. And it’s not pretty.
“It’s not unwashed hands that defile a person, it’s the evil thoughts that they harbor in their hearts. Because ultimately, those thoughts lead to action. What starts as an evil thought, become an evil word and that word becomes murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, lying and slander.”
Jesus finished speaking just as we crested the hill, and suddenly it was as if the sun focused all of its brightness directly on him.
John, James and I stumbled back away from the glow, it was almost painful to the eyes. But we couldn’t look away, and suddenly Jesus wasn’t alone. I don’t know how, but we all knew that it was Moses and Elijah who were with him, and the three of them were just talking, like old friends.
“Jesus, this incredible, just say the word and we’ll build memorials to show what happened here.”
But it wasn’t Jesus who spoke, the voice came from heaven “This is my Son, my chosen one, listen to him.”
I don’t know what happened, but suddenly I was face first on the ground and when I looked up, Jesus was standing by himself.
“Get up guys, and understand that this was for you, if I had had wanted everyone to have seen and heard what just happened, it would have happened in front of the crowd or the twelve, but for now, it’s just for you.
“There will come a time, when you will be able to tell people about what you saw today, but that time isn’t yet.”
John was the first to speak, “Some of the religious leaders say that Elijah has to appear before the Messiah is revealed, was this it?”
“No,” Jesus replied, “Elijah has already come to get things ready for the Messiah, and he was rejected and ultimately they killed him, just like they will kill the son of man.”
It was on our way back down the hill that we realized that Jesus was talking about his cousin John.