[Luke 9 Part 2] Are You Ready to be Transfigured? In Luke 9, Jesus is transfigured, and based on events at the time there is strong consideration that He was actually modeling an experience that you too can know. Are you ready to put on immortality? Are you ready to be clothed in glory, or have your leaders marginalized any such teaching as irrelevant, and “too controversial”? In this chapter we take a closer look at the transfiguration of Jesus and what it portends for you and me.
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28 And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. 29 And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment [was] white [and] glistering. 30 And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: 31 Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. 33 And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said. 34 While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. 35 And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. 36 And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept [it] close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen. 37 And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, much people met him. 38 And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child. 39 And, lo, a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly departeth from him. 40 And I besought thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not. 41 And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither. 42 And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare [him]. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father. 43 And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, he said unto his disciples, 44 Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men. 45 But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying. 46 Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. 47 And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, 48 And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great. 49 And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. 50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid [him] not: for he that is not against us is for us. 51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, 52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. 53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw [this], they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? 55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. 56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save [them]. And they went to another village. 57 And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain [man] said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air [have] nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay [his] head. 59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. 61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. 62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
In the second half of Luke 9 Jesus takes Peter, John and James to a mountain to pray, what we now call the Mount of Transfiguration. Scholars are unsure exactly what mountain this is where the transfiguration takes place. Third century theologian Origen believed it to be Mount Tabor, one of the highest in the region. The very highest is Mount Hermon, which is held by others to be the location of Jesus transfiguration because it is near to the place where events immediately prior to this took place in Jesus’ ministry. Why did Jesus take James, John and Peter? Because they were His inner circle. Where the ministry of Jesus was concerned there was the inner circle of these three men, the twelve closest disciples, then there were 70 other disciples, and what we refer to as the multitude, the 5000. This grouping is not based on any hierarchy Jesus established, but rather one based on intimacy and relationship.
As Jesus prays, the disciples notice that His countenance was altered, in other words His physical appearance. What happens when we pray? It is interesting that this took place when Jesus was praying. What happens here to Jesus is not regarded by Him or explained by Him to be an experience exclusive to Him as the unique son of God. Throughout Jesus lifetime and in the doctrine of the apostles afterward, the consensus is that Jesus never exercised any authority that was unique only to Him, but rather limited Himself to only those graces and gifts that He would then in the resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Ghost make available to you and me. The conclusion then is that when we pray something happens to us, even physically when we pray. As the early believers were known to ask when they met each other on the street, do I find you praying?
As Jesus prays, His face lights up and His clothes begin to glisten with the glory of God manifesting from Jesus’ body. Moses and Elias then appear, speaking with Jesus. Why Moses and Elijah? Because they represent the law and the prophets. The fact that Elijah appears representing the prophets as a contemporary or on equal footing with Moses tells us the status that heaven accords to him. In this event we see also a living picture of Jesus as the Logos, or Word of God. Bounded by the Law the Prophets we see Jesus, the living representation of a New Covenant, superior to the Old, yet in perfect union with them in the glory. As the disciples look on, apparently, they are close enough to overhear the conversation taking place between Jesus, Moses and Elijah, speaking of Jesus death, burial and resurrection in Jerusalem. While angels cannot look into the work of redemption, it was nonetheless known and made known in heaven.
There is something else we need to point out. When Jesus dies, He goes to a holding place in the underworld known as Paradise, where the righteous dead where held imprisoned, until Jesus came to preach to them, and lead them to the Father. Yet here is Moses and Elijah. They were not prisoners. They were not in a holding place or a place of detention. When Elijah departed he went upward to heaven. That tells us that when Moses died, he did not join the righteous dead. We can also say that at this point there were only these two men, with the possible exception of Enoch, who were in the heavens that Jesus ascends to after His crucifixion. Heaven must have been a vast, empty place humanly speaking at that time.
Apparently Elijah and Moses spend a significant amount of time talking to Jesus, because Peter falls asleep. Can you imagine it? What the mind cannot process causes it to just shut down. Finally, Peter is jolted awake, sees the three still standing together and he wants to celebrate the feast of Tabernacles. Whatever Peter’s education was, he was familiar with the feasts of Israel and the three times in a year that all males were to appear before the Lord, at Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Peter sees these three before Him, clothed in the visible glory of God and He wants to celebrate the third and final feast of Tabernacles.
The Feast of Tabernacles, or Feast of Booths was when the people would go out into the open field, and celebrate in temporary shelters or lean-tos this final feast. The emphasis on this feast was its transitory nature. What did Peter see that made him think of this? There is an indication in his second epistle when he makes the following statement:
[2Pe 1:13 KJV] 13 Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting [you] in remembrance;
Peter thought of his physical body in the same way the Jews thought of the temporary shelters they would erect to celebrate tabernacles. How does this relate to what Peter sees on the Mount of Transfiguration? Peter looks at the three before him, clothed in glory and realizes that his physical body as he knows it is only his temporary booth, but what he is looking at in that moment was what Paul called his “eternal house” not only for these three but for every righteous man or woman. The one connection Peter hasn’t made, is that this fulfillment in glory was not going to come by the celebration of the Old Covenant, thus verse 33 tells us when he suggests that they celebrate the Old Covenant feast, that it shows he didn’t have full understanding yet. What he does see, but what scholars have failed to see, that all three feasts in their fulfillment point to a personal experience of the believer appropriated by faith.
In Passover’s fulfillment we receive the born again experience (affecting our human spirit).
In Pentecost’s fulfillment we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit (affecting our soul, or mind, will and emotions).
In Tabernacle’s fulfillment we receive the redemption of our physical body, or what Paul calls “putting on immortality”.
One day every one of us will experience what Jesus, Moses and Elijah demonstrated on the Mount of Transfiguration. You can call it the rapture, the resurrection, whatever you want but it will be for us the crowning experience of our lives on this side of eternity, preparing us for eternity, age without end in the heavens before the throne of God, and according to Paul there will be those who will experience this, without going by way of death:
[1Th 4:16-18 KJV] 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
This tells us that what Enoch experienced in a singular fashion, and what Elijah experienced likewise, will one day be experienced by a generation of authentic believers. This is the picture of Revelations 12, a Sun Clothed Woman (the glorified church) suddenly appearing in the heavens that causes Satan to be cast down the earth, or natural realm, and something we cannot speak clearly of called the Manchild, coming out of her and ascending to the third heaven. This is a doctrine deeply scorned in Christian culture today. Just as the church never preaches on the existence of hell, and seldom actually mentions the name of Jesus, this doctrine is greatly ignored and marginalized in the church. This is why so many Christians are miserable and unhappy. Paul said “if we in this life only have hope, we are of all men most miserable…” The church doesn’t look past the immediacy of the moment but we are called upon by God to look at things through the lens of eternity and put our faith on things above, demonstrated on the mount of Transfiguration, and not on things on earth.
The following day, Jesus takes the three disciples and returns to the remainder of the 12, who are struggling unsuccessfully to cast out a demon. Jesus is very upset that that disciples are such failures and calls them faithless perverts in verse 41. Oh, my goodness! Why is He being so hard on them? Because in Luke 9:1, He gave them authority (dunamis), and power (exousia) to cast out devils. Not just authority (exousia) but raw power (dunamis). It wasn’t that they didn’t have power, they didn’t have confidence (pistis, faith – which translates as confidence). In the transfiguration we see what the dunamis of God does in us, and in the case of the demonized boy we see what the dunamis, raw power of God should do through us. We tend to believe that resurrection when it comes will be enacted from without by God upon our physical bodies, but the implication of Jesus’ statements is that the resurrection will be affected upon us from within by the same power that Jesus gives us through the Holy Ghost to heal the sick, cast out devils and raise the dead. Question then: if what we are carrying around in us is so small and puny that we can’t cast out a devil, is it going to be enough to transform our bodies into immortal beings no longer infected by death? Make no mistake, resurrection is a faith proposition. Hebrews says that Enoch BY FAITH was translated. It is time for us to get serious about faith, first by facing the fact that if we don’t see faith’s impact in our lives now, it may be very questionable if we ever will, even in the resurrection.
Jesus nonetheless pushes aside His feckless disciples, and casts out the devil, freeing the little boy. The disciples are dumbfounded and just look the other way, astounded, confused and ashamed. Rather than quiet themselves and repent, however in verse 46 they start arguing about who is the greatest among them. No doubt they are jealous of Peter, James and John for being taken aside for a private session with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Possibly Peter and his companions were sticking the chests out and implying that they now knew that they were going to be at top of the heap, all the while refusing to tell the secret of what happened at the Transfiguration.
Jesus has had enough and confronts these bickering disciples saying “let these sayings sink down into your ears – the Son of man will be delivered (and crucified) at the hands of men…” The disciples are having none of it, intensifying the argument among them as to who was the greatest. Jesus, without another word brings a little child (no doubt from among the 70) and places him among the disciples. If the disciples want to be great, they must become as this little boy. History and legend suggest that this child goes on in adulthood to be a great bishop of the church. The lesson however is lost on the disciples and they try to divert the attention of Jesus from rebuking them, to a report that someone is casting out devils in Jesus’ name that isn’t among the 12. Here is the beginning of sectarianism in Christianity. Jesus completely dismisses the complaint saying “forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us…” Have you ever seen a church, or a minister get angry or threatened because of what another minister or church is doing? Remember the lesson here: Does God care if someone is ministering without your permission, or your pastor’s permission? Not in the least.
Jesus leads the disciples away from this place, toward Jerusalem and is rebuffed by a city of the Samaritans. The disciples are angry at this and in v. 54 they offer to call down fire and destroy these people who have rejected and mistreated Jesus so disrespectfully. Here is a very important and greatly overlooked lesson:
[Luk 9:55-56 KJV] 55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. 56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save [them]. And they went to another village.
Jesus is not telling the disciples they have a devil. They had offered in v. 54 to call down fire “even as Elijah did…” They wanted to act, or move in the spirit of Elijah. Prophets are the same way today. They preach “where is the Lord God of Elijah…” and “these are the days of Elijah…” Wait just a minute! In the New Testament the spirit of prophecy has to do with Jesus, not Elijah!
[Rev 19:10 KJV] …. the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
You are either going to prophesy in the spirit of Christ or the spirit of Elijah – you can’t do both. That is why Jesus says here and in effect RECONFIGURES THE PROPHETIC from the Old Covenant destruction to the New Covenant of life saying the son of man did not come to destroy but to save. So let’s once and for all end this morbid fascination with so-called prophets speaking death and rebuke on their hapless victims, they are not speaking by the spirit of Christ, they are operating under a covenant that has passed away, that of sin and death. If you are going to prophesy – as Jesus commands here – prophesy LIFE!
The chapter concludes with a pair of men who want to follow Jesus but have other affairs to attend to first. One man even wants to hold a funeral for his father first. Jesus says, “let the dead bury the dead…” and “no man having put his hand to the plough and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God…” What is keeping you from walking in your calling. Some suggest that the man’s father wasn’t dead yet, and he was actually promising to follow Jesus after his dad died. Are you letting family obligations keep you from following Jesus? That seems reasonable and responsible, but what seems reasonable and responsible to men, as far as Jesus is concerned, renders one unfit to follow Him.
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