Lukeby Mike Raiter
Have you heard this popular Christian song? “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face.” If, though, you were to see Jesus, how would you respond? On a mountain, the three disciples, Peter, James, and John, are given a revelation of the awesome glory of Jesus (vv. 28–36).
As Jesus’ form is changed, or transfigured, light blazes all around. Moses the great lawgiver and Elijah the great prophet appear and talk with Jesus about His approaching departure (or “exodus” in the Greek text, v. 31): His death and glorious resurrection. Then God speaks from the cloud and gives to the world His one message: “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him” (v. 35).
After every mountain comes a valley. From the high point of witnessing Jesus’ glory on the mountain, the disciples are brought down to earth with a sober reminder of their faithlessness. Despite the fact that Jesus has recently given them authority to drive out demons, they lack the faith to cleanse a young boy (vv. 37–41). Luke spares us no details in describing the destructive effects of the demon’s presence in the boy: he screams, convulses, and foams at the mouth. In the harshest words Jesus uses about the disciples, He recalls God’s anger and frustration with His unbelieving people, Israel, in the wilderness (v. 41; Numbers 14:11; Deuteronomy 32:5, 20). They are an “unbelieving and perverse generation”. Luke does not tell us how the disciples’ faithlessness expressed itself. Were they intimidated by the seriousness of the boy’s condition? Had they begun to put confidence in their own abilities? What a contrast, though, between their impotence and the power of Jesus’ word: He speaks and the boy is made well (vv. 42–43).
Just as God remained faithful to fickle Israel throughout her history, the Lord Jesus shows grace and patience in staying with the disciples. Their greatest betrayal is still to come! He again reminds them that He will be “delivered into the hands of men” (v. 44). Of course, it will be one of the Twelve that eventually betrays Jesus.
How quickly our faith can turn to fear, our praise to perversity. Let’s keep turning our eyes upon Jesus, and our ears to His words of life.
What is the significance of Jesus, Moses, and Elijah discussing Jesus’ departure or exodus (v. 31)? What does that tell us about the importance of His death and glorious resurrection?
Why is it that in our lives, high moments of spiritual joy can often be followed by low troughs of doubt and despondency?