The disciples were intended to be encouraged by a glimpse of Jesus’ glory in the transfiguration. Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus, reflecting the glory of God. They speak with Jesus of his departure in Jerusalem. This refers to his death but literally they speak to Jesus of his ‘exodus’. By doing so, the work of Jesus is being compared with an exodus-like salvation event that is greater than Moses’ exodus and eschatological evidenced by the presence of Elijah.
When Peter sees all that is happening, he proposes to build three tabernacles. Peter is often censured for this. It is argued that he simply wanted to prolong the glory at the cost of the suffering Jesus had spoken of. However, it is also possible that Peter’s response was a very correct one. In the Exodus story the appearing of God’s glory had necessitated the building of a tabernacle so as to continue that presence among the Israelites. It is because Peter recognizes God’s glory present with Moses, Elijah and Jesus that he proposes three tabernacles. Luke’s comment that he did not know what he was saying, does not censure Peter but rather indicates that Peter despite this response still did not fully understand the import of what he was saying. Nevertheless, Peter’s comment recognizes God’s activity in a similar way to his confession that Jesus is the Christ.
With the Cross and Resurrection Jesus’ tabernacling among us, his suffering and his being raised becomes more clearly known and the glory of God in Christ is seen more clearly.