He took with him Peter, James, and John; and began to show signs of great dismay and deep distress of mind.
in the midst
of a usual cast of characters
are expected to be high
having gone through
so many experiences
we’ve got each other’s back
but even here
all the king’s horses
and all our friend’s prayers
can’t budge impending doom
lonelier than ever
despair leads us away
anxiety pushes us away
lonelier than ever
Even best buddies can’t keep us from “walking that lonesome valley by ourself”.
Taking Peter, James, and John along with him while leaving the rest of the disciples sitting behind, suggests there is a heightened expectation that their presence will make a difference, even though it didn’t during a moment of transfiguration. These three became confused and stuttered inappropriately about tents. Eventually, they were told to speak to no one about this. Presumably because they would only make a mess of the mystery to which they were witnesses.
In the presence of his most often named disciples, there was another beginning in addition to the beginning of good news. This is the beginning of suffering and death with the twin pair of dreads—despair and anxiety. These two are still active within individual Christians and congregations as well as the church at large when we stop to consider the state of both church and beyond-church. The difference the church has made, internally and externally, has, at best, a neutral effect and, at worst, an adverse effect.
Bratcher446 talks about the words translated as the dismay of despair and anxiety, distress and trouble:
ἐκθαμβέω (ekthambeō) the word denotes a distress which is the result of surprise, i.e. a dread caused by something unexpected.
ἀδημονέω (adēmoneō) the emphasis of this verb seems to be on the element of anguish caused by uncertainty and bewilderment as to what to do.
Both words leave us a bit confused as suffering and death have been constant companions. Now they are a surprise wilderness?