The Transfiguration of Jesus
1Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, there are some standing here now who won’t experience death until they see God’s kingdom realm manifest with power!” # 9:1 This manifestation of the power of God’s kingdom realm could be seen in three dimensions. (1) Beginning with v. 2, the kingdom power of God was seen in Jesus’ transfiguration and the appearing of Moses and Elijah on the mountain. (2) Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into glory inaugurated a new era of God’s kingdom power. (3) The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, which brought to birth the church of Jesus Christ, and extended God’s kingdom realm to all the earth.
2After six days, Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, Jacob and John, and hiked up a high mountain to be alone. And Jesus’ appearance was dramatically altered, for he was transfigured before their very eyes! 3His clothing sparkled and became glistening white—whiter than any bleach in the world could make them. 4Then suddenly, right in front of them, Moses and Elijah appeared, # 9:4 Moses represented the Law and Elijah represented the Prophets. Both Moses and Elijah were associated with Mount Sinai (Horeb), both had a ministry of performing astounding miracles, and both had unusual circumstances surrounding their passing from this life into glory. Peter tells us clearly that what he saw that day was a preview of God’s kingdom realm (2 Peter 1:16–17). and they spoke with Jesus.
5Peter blurted out, “Good Teacher, # 9:5 Or “Good Rabbi,” as translated from the Aramaic. Rabbi is an Aramaic title that means master-teacher. this is so amazing to see the three of you together! Why don’t we stay here and set up three shelters: # 9:5 Or “booths,” a reference to making booths for the Feast of Tabernacles. Peter wanted to celebrate that feast there on the mountaintop with Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. However, Jesus is not to be treated equally with Moses or Elijah—Jesus is the Lord of all creation, including all of humanity. one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah?” 6(For all of the disciples were in total fear, and Peter didn’t have a clue what to say.) 7Just then, a radiant cloud began to spread over them, enveloping them all. And God’s voice suddenly spoke from the cloud, saying, “This is my beloved Son and you need to always listen to him!” # 9:7 Or “You must constantly listen to him.” See Deut. 18:15; Ps. 2:7; Isa. 42:1.
8Then suddenly, as they looked around, they saw only Jesus with them, for Moses and Elijah had faded away. # 9:8 Or “They saw no one with them anymore except Jesus.” There were two mountains in the life of Jesus that focused on his true identity and mission. On this mountain, his face shone as bright as the sun; yet on Mount Calvary, his face was beaten to a pulp. On this mountain, his clothing was glistening white; yet on Mount Calvary, his clothing was taken from him and he was bleeding crimson. On this mountain, he had at his side two of the greatest men ever to live, Moses and Elijah; yet on Mount Calvary, he had at his side two murderers. On this mountain, the glory of God overshadowed him; yet on Mount Calvary, he was alone, forsaken, in the dark. On this mountain, we hear the Father’s voice of commendation; yet on Calvary’s mountain, the Father was silent. How beautiful was Jesus on both mountains!
9As they all hiked down the mountain together, Jesus ordered them, “Don’t tell anyone of what you just witnessed. Wait until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” 10So they kept it to themselves, puzzled over what Jesus meant about rising from the dead.
11Then they asked him, “Why do the religious scholars insist that Elijah must come before the Messiah?” # 9:11 Or “come first” (prior to the coming of the Messiah).
12He answered them, “They’re right. Elijah must come first to put everything in order. # 9:12 See Mal. 4:5–6. Jesus is obviously referring to John the Baptizer as the one who symbolized Elijah’s coming. Using metaphors, symbols, and parables was Jesus’ preferred way of teaching. And what about all that is written about the Son of Man? It is true that he must endure many sufferings and be rejected. # 9:12 Read Ps. 22; Isa. 53. 13So Elijah has already appeared, just as it was prophesied, # 9:13 Or “just as it was written about him.” and they did to him whatever they pleased.”
The Disciples Unable to Cast Out a Demon
14Now when they came down the mountain to the other nine disciples, they noticed a large crowd of people gathered around them, with the religious scholars arguing with them. 15The crowd was astonished to see Jesus himself walking toward them, so they immediately ran to welcome him.
16“What are you arguing about with the religious scholars?” he asked them.
17A man spoke up out of the crowd. “Teacher,” he said, “I have a son possessed by a demon that makes him mute. I brought him here to you, Jesus. 18Whenever the demon takes control of him, it knocks him down, and he foams at the mouth and gnashes his teeth, and his body becomes stiff as a board. I brought him to your disciples, hoping they could deliver him, but they were not able to do it.”
19Jesus said to the crowd, “Why are you such a faithless people? # 9:19 Or “generation.” How much longer must I remain with you and put up with your unbelief? Now, bring the boy to me.”
20So they brought him to Jesus. As soon as the demon saw him, it threw the boy into convulsions. He fell to the ground, rolling around and foaming at the mouth. 21Jesus turned to the father and asked, “How long has your son been tormented like this?”
“Since childhood,” he replied. 22“It tries over and over to kill him by throwing him into fire or into the water. But please, if you’re able to do something, anything—have compassion on us and help us!”
23Jesus said to him, “What do you mean ‘if’? # 9:23 Implied by the use of the most emphatic form of “if” in the Greek text. If you are able to believe, # 9:23 As translated from the Aramaic and the majority of Greek manuscripts. There are, however, some Greek manuscripts that leave out the words “to believe.” all things are possible to the believer.”
24When he heard this, the boy’s father cried out with tears, saying, “I do believe, Lord; help my little faith!” # 9:24 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “I do believe; help my unbelief.”
25Now when Jesus saw that the crowd was quickly growing larger, he commanded the demon, saying, “Deaf and mute spirit, I command you to come out of him and never enter him again!”
26The demon shrieked and threw the boy into terrible seizures and finally came out of him! As the boy lay there, looking like a corpse, everyone thought he was dead. 27But Jesus stooped down, gently took his hand, and raised him up to his feet, and he stood there completely set free! # 9:27 Luke 9:43 adds “Everyone was awestruck. They were stunned seeing the power and majesty of God flow through Jesus.”
28Afterwards, when Jesus arrived at the house, his disciples asked him in private, “Why couldn’t we cast out the demon?”
29He answered them, “This type of powerful spirit can only be cast out by fasting and prayer.” # 9:29 As translated from the Aramaic and some Greek manuscripts. Many reliable Greek texts leave out “fasting.” However, the word fasting was found on a fragment going back to the third century. (See also Isa. 58:6.) Our lives must be saturated with the presence of God through prayer and fasting in order to conquer the evil that is in the world and hiding in the hearts of mankind.
Jesus Again Prophesies His Death and Resurrection
30They went on from there and walked through the region of Galilee. Jesus didn’t want the people to know he was there, because he wanted to teach his disciples in private. 31He said to them, “The Son of Man is destined # 9:31 The Greek verb, a present tense with a future aspect, implies something certainly meant to be. to be betrayed and turned over to those who will execute him. But after three days he will rise again.” 32But the disciples didn’t have a clue what he meant and were too embarrassed to ask him to explain it.
The Disciples Argue over Who Will Be the Greatest
33Then they came to Capernaum. And as soon as Jesus was inside the house, he asked his disciples, “What were you arguing about on the way here?”
34No one said a word, because they had been arguing about which one of them was the greatest. 35Jesus sat down, called the twelve disciples to come around him, and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be content to be last and become a servant to all.” 36Then he had a child # 9:36 The Greek word is not gender specific. come and stand among them. He wrapped the child in his arms and said to them, 37“Whoever welcomes a little child in my name welcomes me. And whoever welcomes me welcomes not only me, but the one who sent me.”
The Name of Christ
38John spoke up and said, “Teacher, we noticed someone # 9:38 Some manuscripts add here “who does not follow along with us.” was using your name to cast out demons, so we tried to stop him because he wasn’t one of our group.”
39“Don’t stop him!” Jesus replied. “For the one who does miracles in the power of my name proves he is not my enemy. # 9:39 Or “would soon speak evil of me.” 40And whoever is not against us is for us. 41Listen to the truth that I speak: Whoever gives you a cup of water because you carry the name of Christ will never lose his reward. 42But if anyone abuses # 9:42 Or “entraps,” “holds in bondage,” “enslaves,” “engages in child trafficking.” The Aramaic is “confuses” or “misleads.” one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for him to have a heavy boulder # 9:42 Or “the upper millstone turned by a donkey.” tied around his neck and be thrown into the sea than to face the punishment he deserves! # 9:42 Implied in the words, “it would be better.” Better than what? This is an ellipsis, which when made explicit, enhances the narrative. In the Hebrew text of Matt. 26:24 it reads, “It would be better for him not to even be born.”
43“If your hand entices you to sin, let it go limp and useless! # 9:43 Or “cut it off.” Jesus is obviously using hyperbole to help us understand how purposeful we must be to guard our lives from sin. For it is better for you to enter into life maimed than to have your entire body thrown into hell, # 9:43 Or “the Valley of Hinnom” (or “Gehenna”), which is a metaphor for hell. Gehenna was known in the Old Testament era as the place where human sacrifice was offered to the pagan god Molech. See 2 Chron. 33:6; Jer. 7:31. the place of unquenchable fire. 44This is where the maggots never die and the fire never goes out. # 9:44 The oldest and most reliable manuscripts do not have vv. 44 or 46. They are included in the Aramaic. See Isa. 66:24. 45And if your foot leads you into sin, cut it off! For it is better to enter life crawling than to have both feet and be flung into hell. 46This is where the maggots never die and the fire never goes out. 47And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out! For it is better to enter into life with one eye than to be thrown into hell with two. 48This is where the maggots never die and the fire never goes out! # 9:48 The Aramaic can be translated “where their revenge never dies and their hatred does not subside.”
49“Everyone will pass through the fire and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. # 9:49 As translated from the Aramaic and a few Greek manuscripts. The majority of reliable Greek texts have “Everyone will be salted with fire.” Some manuscripts have “Every sacrifice will be salted with salt.” Other manuscripts combine both statements, as does the Aramaic. The unbeliever will be thrown into the fires of Gehenna, and the believer will pass through the refining fire of God’s holiness and love. The phrase “every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt” may refer to us as “living sacrifices” who are made “salty” for God. In the days of Jesus, as soon as an animal was killed, it was salted to preserve the meat. See Lev. 2:13 (LXX); Mal. 3:2–3; 4:1; 1 Cor. 3:11–15. 50Salt is excellent for seasoning. But if salt becomes tasteless, # 9:50 Or “loses its saltiness.” how can its flavor ever be restored? Your lives, like salt, are to season and preserve. # 9:50 Or “Constantly have (hold) salt in yourselves”; that is, our lives are to become “salty” for God. Aramaic speakers refer to salt as a symbol of faithfulness in friendship. The Jews observed a “salt covenant.” Jesus instructs his followers to be faithful friends to one another and to live in peace. So don’t lose your flavor, # 9:50 Implied by the comparison of salt losing its flavor and the disciples being like salt. and preserve the peace in your union with one another.”