Luke 9:18-21 (NIV) 18 Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” 19 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.” 20 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” 21 Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone.
On verses 18-21: The most important question you will ever need to answer is the question Jesus asked here, which is: who do you say Jesus is? My prayer is that the more you get to know Jesus, like Peter you will come to the same conclusion, which is that Jesus is not just a legend, a fiction, a good person, or a famous prophet, but that Jesus is the Messiah (the Christ) and the one we need. It matters to God who you think Jesus is.
Luke 9:22-25 (NIV) 22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” 23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?
On verses 22-25: In verse 22 Jesus tells his disciples that he will be rejected by the religious leaders of Israel, killed and then raised to life. It’s in this context that Jesus then makes the famous, revolutionary statements we read in verses 23-25: that in giving our lives away for Jesus we receive a life that is far beyond anything we could ever get by living for ourselves. When we give our lives away this way, we’re following in the footsteps of Jesus.
Luke 9:26-27 (NIV) 26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”
On verses 26-27: Jesus watches to see whether we will acknowledge him or be ashamed of him (v26). What does Jesus mean by “some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God” (v27)? This is probably referring to what is about to happen in verses 28-36.
Luke 9:28-32 (NIV) 28 About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, 31 appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. 32 Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
On verses 28-32: What is going on in this passage? These verses describe one of the most amazing and mysterious moments in Jesus’ life on earth known as Jesus’ transfiguration (“transfiguration” meaning a change in appearance). It’s where, for a brief moment on earth, Jesus changes in appearance such that he takes on a little more the glorious appearance he would have in heaven (see Revelation 1:13-16). Not only does Jesus’ appearance change, but he is suddenly talking with two of the most famous and important figures in the Old Testament: Moses and Elijah. Why Moses and Elijah? It could be because Moses represents the Old Testament law and Elijah represents the Old Testament prophets, and both “the law and the prophets” (another word for the Old Testament generally) ultimately point forward to Jesus. Here Moses and Elijah are talking with Jesus about Jesus’ upcoming departure back to heaven (v31).
Here Peter, John and James catch of glimpse of Jesus in his heavenly glory, which is probably what Jesus meant when he said to his disciples in verse 27, “some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God”. This moment is further proof that Jesus is no ordinary human being. Jesus is the Son of God who had come down from heaven and who would return to heaven eventually.
Luke 9:33-36 (NIV) 33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters–one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.) 34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” 36 When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.
On verses 33-36: As Moses and Elijah are leaving the scene, Peter suggests to Jesus that they build three shelters so that Jesus, Moses and Elijah can stay together. Suddenly a cloud envelops them all and God the Father says, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him”, after which the disciples find themselves alone with Jesus again.
What was wrong about Peter’s suggestion? Peter’s mistake may have been that he was putting Moses and Elijah on the same level as Jesus, whereas Jesus was far greater than Moses and Elijah. While Moses and Elijah were faithful servants in God’s house, Jesus is the Son in God’s house. Whereas Moses and Elijah were pointing to the Messiah, Jesus is the Messiah.
What can we learn from this? No matter how great they may seem, don’t put others – their advice, their influence or their greatness – on the same level as Jesus. Jesus is beyond compare.
Jesus, I proclaim today that You are the Son of God, the Messiah, the Saviour that we need, far greater than anyone or anything. To live my life for You and to give it away like You did – there is no higher calling or honour than that. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!