As they were going down the mountainside, Jesus cautioned them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
to report a ridiculous or sublime
is a deeply serious folly
its approximation slips away
into misrepresentation and creed
giving away truth for certainty
a word to the wise
cautions against over-selling
what is not for sale
until earthy soil
is actually harvested
Any attempt to report a mystical experience is going to be frustrated in the short-term and corrupted over time as the meaning of words shift. There needs to be some grounding in experience to keep such reporting alive enough to navigate both the limitation of a hearer without enough experience to appreciate the attempted retelling and the restrictions of generational change.
It is helpful to have Myers109 remind us of a Mosaic setting after a mountain-top experience. “As this group returns down the mountain we may recall what Moses saw upon his descent from Sinai (see Exodus 32). What happens here, however, is not Israel dancing around a golden calf but the disciples’ deepening bafflement.”
It is not uncommon for people on a pilgrimage to return with heightened expectation of a changed life only to find everyday care have also grown and quickly pull one away from resolutions that have not been deeply resolved enough to be ingrained.
This triggers remembrance of Elijah also returning from his mountain-top experience with a still, small voice only to find himself back in the same struggle he left (1 Kings 18:11ff.). Even in silence there is directionality. What has changed for Elijah is that his next actions before his chariot ride will have circles of import far after his leaving. Freed from only having fear as prelude to death, there is now purpose to life until death.
N.T. Wright116 locates this cryptic comment about rising from the dead, “In Jewish thought of the time, ‘the resurrection’ would happen to all the righteous at the end of time, not to one person ahead of all the others. What could Jesus mean by implying that ‘the son of man’ would rise from the dead, while they would be still living the sort of normal life in which people would tell one another what they had seen months or years before?” We are still puzzling this out, along with where Galilee is today, where we will meet a risen Jesus.