A. On the Mountain with Jesus
Notes: It is imperative that this remarkable event be understood against the backdrop of Jesus's prophecy and the apostles' response. In short, Jesus' prophecy of His own death so staggered the apostles - it was so foreign and so offensive to them - that they began to doubt Jesus's messianic identity. The transfiguration was a gracious and spectacular strategy to reinforce the staggering faith of three of those apostles.
- Matthew says this happened "six days" after the conversation above; Mark says "about eight days." How would you reconcile those two?
- Can you think of other times in the New Testament when Jesus was seen in the effulgent and glorious form that He appears at this time?
- According to Luke, what is Jesus doing when He is suddenly transfigured?
- What two Old Testament figures appear with Jesus? What are they talking with Him about?
- When Peter sees Jesus transfigured, he offers to build three booths. Why?
- Given the rebuke spoken from heaven against Peter's suggestion, how do you understand what Peter was thinking in making the offer?
- Why do you think Jesus took only Peter, James, and John to this event?
B. Jesus Instructs the Three Apostles Not to Tell Anyone What They Saw
- This is a very important moment, but the significance of the moment is sometimes lost in the discussion of the conversation that follows. Understand that the truth confessed by Peter here is precisely what Jesus has claimed concerning Himself throughout His ministry. By the same token, it is a truth not easily or hastily embraced. Jesus's delight with the confession is born of the fact that that two-fold truth was so difficult to believe, but the apostles have confessed (11 of them honestly) that they have bowed the knee to those claims.
- Why do you think Jesus commanded those three not to tell anyone of what they had seen until after the resurrection?
- Notice carefully the point of Jesus's command which proved confusing to these apostles (Matthew 17:9).
C. The Three Ask about the Coming of Elijah
Notes: Evidently the experience of the transfiguration had reinforced these men's faith in Jesus's messianic claims. But there was one other matter that confused them in that regard, and so they put the question to Jesus at this strategic time.
Questions/Observations: How do you understand the relationship between John the Baptist and the Elijah prophecy of Malachi 4:5-6, especially given this passage?
D. The Nine Apostles Left Behind Are Unable to Drive out a Demon
- Notice that Luke is explicit that this occurred the day after the transfiguration (Luke 9:37), and Mark that it was the other disciples who were unable to do this (Mark 9:14).
- Why do you think these men were unable to deliver this boy? (Compare Mark 9:29.)
- Note carefully Mark's account; it is the fullest of the three and it includes very interesting and important details.
Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).
Next: Last Efforts in Galilee