Resplendent Revelation and Wrong Responses (Luke 9:28-56)
On the Mount of Transfiguration God pulled back a corner of the veil and shined light on the world to come. Peter, James, and John were given the privilege to witness what most believers witness only after they die: the glory of God the Son. The transfiguration was actual metamorphosis; real transformation. Moses the mediator of the Law and Elijah the teacher of the prophets spoke with Jesus about that great event they had lived in hope of, and the great work they had died in reliance upon. The cloud overshadowed them on the mountain, just as it had on the tabernacle and the temple in times past, serving as a visible manifestation of His invisible majesty. The voice coming out of the cloud makes perfectly clear that Jesus was the only one worthy of worship. Jesus is the one that had fulfilled the Law and the prophets, and they fade into the background now that the Promised One is on the scene. Moses and Elijah were but servants, while Christ was the King’s Son.
After this encounter with the resplendent glory of the Son, we see a number of wrong responses on the part of the disciples.
1 – Peter shows a lack of listening (verse 33). Rather than listening to the clear teaching of Jesus regarding suffering, death, the cross, etc., he would rather build a tent and only gaze at His glory. His timing was wrong. Jesus had made it plain that this is not a time for sitting back and gazing, but for taking up your cross and following.
2 – The disciples show a lack of faith as they attempt to cast out the demon (verse 40). Rather than relying on God for what He alone can do, they rely on their own strength and take His power and authority for granted.
3 – Later they show a lack of focus as Jesus attempts to remind them of the purpose for which He has come (verse 44). The disciples did not keep the cross in sight, and could not understand what Jesus was telling them.
4 – The disciples show a lack of humility as they argue about who is the greatest (verse 46). The disciples desired significance and greatness for their own sakes. Real greatness is measured by humility and obedience.
5 – They also show a lack of understanding. They failed to cast out a demon and they failed to understand Jesus’ words regarding His suffering, and yet they quickly begin blindly arguing about which of them is greatest. Jesus makes it clear that there is no place for contrast or comparison with one another. The question is not who is the greatest, but who is great. The one who is great in His Kingdom is the one who is least.
6 – John shows a lack of wisdom by attempting to fight the wrong enemy (verses 49-50). Arrogantly assuming that he and the other disciples are the only ones that have it right, he shoots off friendly fire. Seeing this man casting out demons, he is upset that others are able to do what he and the other disciples were just unable to do. Amidst his own sense of self-importance, John forgets that they do not have a monopoly on God’s work.
7 – James and John show a lack of love when they ask if Jesus wants them to command fire to come down and consume the Samaritan village (verses 54-56). They had zeal to the exclusion of everything else. Whereas Jesus is slow to anger, patient, gracious, and long-suffering, James and John were quick to anger, impatient, and ready to bring swift judgment and destruction on an entire village.
– Which of these wrong responses do you see as a particular struggle in your own life?
– Peter says that the written Word of God is even more sure than that glorious revelation that he saw on the mountain that day (2 Peter 1:16-21). With that in mind, how might the Catechism question from last week (below) help you as you seek to avoid the wrong responses of the disciples?:
How is the Word of God to be read and heard? With diligence, preparation, and prayer; so that we may accept it with faith, store it in our hearts, and practice it in our lives.