Poor Peter. He gets much criticism for the things he says, and this is one of those times. There is, however, something beautiful about the words he said here. He had been asleep, as had James and John. When he awakened, Peter opened his eyes to see Jesus, Moses, and Elijah in heavenly attire, their clothing so gleaming it had the appearance of lightning flashes coming from it. Peter's first response was one of worship, honor, and service. He wanted to build tabernacles (movable tents made of branches or animal hides) to honor all three men. The glory he saw before him inspired service. It made him want to do something, and isn't that what understanding Who Jesus is should do for us? Should we not also want to serve Him when we understand that this Son of Man is the Son of God?
Perhaps Peter wanted to build a tabernacle much as the early patriarchs set up stones of remembrance. He may have wanted to commemorate the experience and have a place to which he could return and remember the glorious sight. That was not to be, but Peter would carry that sight of the glorified men with him for the rest of his life. He didn't need a tabernacle. The vision of glory was so profound that he would never forget. He, like Mary at the birth of her Son, would treasure and ponder for years to come.
Moses and Elijah were leaving Jesus, heading back to heaven. The home to which they were returning was so much more beautiful than that one which Peter would build that there is no comparison. In heaven the streets are paved with gold. That which we hold as so valuable in this world is nothing more than gravel and pavement in heaven. A home of branches and skins is such a meager offering in comparison, as are the things we treasure here on earth.
If we could open our eyes and see Jesus in all His glory, as the three disciples did, we, too, might be moved to do great things for God. We, too, might want to serve. May God grant each of us the kind of vision that sees the permanence and glory of heavenly things and the transience of earthly things, and moves us to value them accordingly. May our vision, our understanding, of Christ move us to serve with enthusiasm the One to whom all honor is due.