The Shoes of the Gospel of Peace 2

On this day about 1980 years ago, give or take a few, Jesus took three disciples up a high mountain. Many scholars think they climbed Mount Tabor. However I’m with those who believe they ascended a peak of Mount Hermon.*

At sunset this evening Sukkot begins. It’s the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, a time when people build temporary booths, entwining boughs and branches to make a ‘tent’. All to celebrate and remember their history, especially the time when God provided for them during their wilderness wanderings.

So, back almost two millennia ago, it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what was going on in the head of Simon the fisherman. He was only just getting used to his nickname Cephas, the threshold stone. Some of the Greek–speaking disciples—including his own brother Andrew—had fun with the new name. Turned it to Petros, the rock. Ribbed him it’s a pun on the Hebrew word peter, the first–born—nicely symbolic for the first to announce the Messiah.

Simon’s not sure he’ll ever hear the end of it. He’s happy to be away from the jokes but he’s still concerned. It’s Sukkot, the Feast of Booths. He’s supposed to be building a little hut. But Jesus doesn’t look like he’s about to stop anytime soon to collect wood. And once they get above the treeline and into the snow, the building of a booth’s going to be even harder. Wait. This is Jesus. Five thousand people fed from a few loaves of bread. Perhaps just a dead twig will be enough: Jesus could make it sprout branches like Aaron’s rod once budded with blossoms.

Simon relaxes. But not much. He’s still not sure he wants to be climbing Mount Hermon on the first day of Sukkot. Like, what are you thinking Jesus? It’s not appropriate to be fulfilling ‘how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news’. Not when we’re approaching the palace of the Canaanite gods! Where the fallen angels first crash–landed!

After that statement six days ago when Jesus smacked down Pan, the god of panic, with that statement about the Gates of Hell, Simon is wondering what’s in store. What would Jesus say to a pagan pantheon? Suddenly he knows. It’s prophecy straight out of Psalm 82. ‘God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: “”How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?”

Oh, fantastic. We’re off to the heavenly court, so Jesus can challenge the hosts of hell. I should have realised that was next on his agenda after that business about the Gates of Hell. What on earth am I doing here? Oh, yeah. I’d be one of the two or three witnesses. C’mon Jesus, if you want to take on the principalities and powers and world rulers of this present age, you know I’m not up for it. Neither are the Sons of Thunder here. They’re more bark than bite. Someone like Moses or Elijah would be better.

Hey… oops, sorry, I didn’t mean to abuse God’s ‘I AM’ name there. But, Jesus, you’re glowing. Y…y…you’re… I mean… god–like… you’re confusing me here… who are these guys? Moses and Elijah? You took me seriously? Oh… I see. No, I don’t actually. You want some booths for them too?

In later years, Simon probably realised what was going on. He’d been brought to take part in a meeting of the Divine Council. It happened just six days after he’d been given a new name. Flashback two millennia or so from that moment and he’d have recognised the parallel: six days after Abram was given a new name, Abraham, a divine meeting convened on his doorstep. Part of the discussion included a birth to take place in nine months’ time. As the birth of the church at Pentecost would occur nearly nine months after this time on Mount Hermon.

The parallels here are significant for studies of threshold covenants. And the particular parallel to natural human birth is surprising. What does six days signify there? Implantation is six days after conception. That’s what Jesus was taking care to do on the Feast of Tabernacles.

* The advocates of Tabor think Jesus and the disciples left the region of Caesarea Philippi and headed back down to the Lower Galilee in order to climb the ‘high mountain’ six days later. However I believe it makes much more sense for Jesus, along with Peter, James and John to have climbed Mount Hermon which is not only much higher than Tabor but is also right next door to Caesarea Philippi. 


  1. I appreciate your thoughts and how you express them Ann.
    When I first understood the relationship of Caesarea Philippi and Pan to what Jesus said it made Christ’s choice of site more understandable. Everything He did/does has significance.
    Thanks again.

    • Hi Ray –
      What constantly amazes me about Jesus’ actions is that they are not new: they fall so often into the pattern of God’s action in the past. So while they are not new, they never fail to ‘renew’.

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