After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.
This passage starts Mark's accounts of the Transfiguration, an incredible miracle that is mentioned in three of the four Gospels. We celebrate the Transfiguration of Jesus this Sunday, and you may notice our stoles will be white. We use the liturgical color of white on major Holy Days and Sundays where we celebrate pivotal events in the life of Jesus. The white symbolizes purity, holiness, and glory. Some churches alternatively use gold or use both white and gold together. Based on Mark's account, you can see one reason why we use the color white for Jesus.
I'm especially intrigued just by how white Jesus' clothes are said to have become. Whiter than anyone could bleach them? Bleach does a pretty good job of, well, bleaching cloth. The other descriptions are interesting, as well. Luke says the clothes were as bright as a flash of lightning. Matthew says they were bright as light, and he also tells us that the disciples that went up the mountain with Jesus were very sleepy. Can you imagine being half awake on a mountain, and then suddenly, something so white and so bright appears in front of you. How would you react if something so indescribable as the glory of Jesus shone before your eyes? And what about if then, both Moses and Elijah appeared, too? And then! What if you heard the rumbling voice of God call out?
Well, that's exactly what happened to Peter, John, and James. I think I'd be terrified and speechless, but Peter offers to set up three tents for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. I really don't think I would have said the same thing, but I think there is something to Peter's reaction. There's nothing of value Peter could've given to Jesus in his full glory, but he offers whatever he has anyway. I don't know what it is that God has given you, but whatever it is, offer it back to God anyway. The paradox is that no matter how humble or insignificant our gift may be, the Ancient of Days will always gladly accept and cherish it.