A Foretaste of Glory Divine
Topic: Incarnation Verse: Luke 9:27–9:36
“A Foretaste of Glory Divine”
Theme: Enjoying the glory of Christ Jesus requires listening to His Word.
Introduction: Most of us have a default setting – even as believers – to figure out how faith can help us thrive. We want life to be the easiest, most joy-filled, enriching, and fulfilling and we can crassly believe that Jesus is the best avenue that we have found to these ends. Of course, as we mature in our awareness of how unworthy these ego-centric values are in light of the glory of Christ we see the worthiness that He possesses for us to serve Him and not the other way around! Yet, this is the constant pull in our thinking.
The disciples were little different. From the first days that the disciples had begun to follow Jesus, their anticipation was certain that He was the Messiah and would be setting up the Kingdom as had been long promised throughout the OT. They were constantly asking Him: “Is it now that you are going to set up the Kingdom?” Additionally, they were seemingly jockeying for position in the Kingdom – who was the greatest, who would sit at His right and left hands when He was on the throne, etc … Their desire was for the Kingdom to begin and they knew that they would be in the front row of His followers when He did.
Whenever Jesus disappointed their expectations, they struggled. We have already seen John the Baptist struggling with Jesus’ agenda. Not recorded in Luke is the argument that Peter had just had with Jesus – impertinently rebuking Jesus for suggesting that He would be dying at the hands of the Jews – cp. Luke 9:22; Matthew 16:17-23. These texts provide us the backdrop for what Luke is now going to tell us about the necessity to listen to the Word of the Lord. Luke begins by providing a demonstration of the King’s glory, then he exposes us to the discussion that occurred of the King’s glory; and, finally, he provides us the declaration regarding the King’s glory. All of these diret us to the conclusion that Peter gained that if one is going to enjoy the glory of Christ Jesus, it is absolutely necessary to listen to His Word!
The Demonstration of the King’s Glory – 9:27-29
A. The Expectation of His Glory – vv. 27-28
- The previous text had established the truth of valuing the life to come more greatly than anything that this current life offers.
- Jesus had indicated His disciple will follow Him at any cost, the result of which is that He will not be ashamed of such a follower when He comes in great glory – cp. v. 26.
- When Jesus “comes in His glory …” it will be to establish His kingdom – when He will fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant and reign upon the earth for 1,000 years.
- Immediately, Jesus indicates that some of them would be given the opportunity to behold His glory before they died – the very glory in which He would be appearing in at the 2nd Coming – “But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who shall not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” (essentially an ability to view His glory).
- Here, Jesus seems to raise the expectation that the Kingdom would be coming at any time – when His true intention was to fortify His disciples for what was coming by allowing them to “taste” the glory of the Kingdom as they continued to serve Him at great cost.
- It was a means by which He was providing them the awareness of the truth of what He had just spoken – that following Jesus, denying oneself, and taking up his cross daily was well worth it!
- We see the fulfillment of this promise in this next phrase: “And some eight days after these sayings …”
- The reference to “and … these sayings” connects this account to what Jesus had just said.
- The reference to “eight days” is not a contradiction to what Matthew and Mark report when they said that it was “six days” – Luke merely included the day that Jesus spoke and the day that the events occur while Matthew and Mark include only the intervening days – cp. Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:2.
- Luke reports that those who were going to experience this foretaste of the Kingdom of God were an exclusive group – “… it came about that He took along Peter and John and James, and went up to the mountain to pray.”
- Jesus’ couldn’t provide the entire crowd gathered listening to Him such exposure to His glory since it would merely foment the false impressions concerning the Messiah’s purpose and the entire region would have been quickly embellishing the account until turmoil, chaos, and Roman intervention would have been required.
- So, Jesus selects “Peter and James and John,” Jesus’ most intimate and trusted disciples, to be the eyewitnesses of this fantastic event.
- “Peter” was likely chosen for this since he was the indisputable leader of the apostles – serving as the spokesman and representatives of all of them; and he would be called upon to give his life in martyrdom – cp. John 21:18-19
- “James” was likely chosen because he would be one of the first disciples martyred at Herod’s order by means of the sword – cp. Acts 12:2
- “John” was likely chosen because he would be called upon to write of the glory of Christ into his in old age as He wrote the book of Revelation.
- Again, as Jesus approaches the crucifixion (this is about 6 months before His death), Jesus “went up to the mountain to pray.”
- Again, prayer is a staple in Jesus’ earthly ministry as He communes with the Father as the principle means by which He gains strength before each major event throughout His life.
- “the mountain” is most like NOT the traditional Mt. Tabor – but is likely Mt. Hermon which is must closer to Caesarea Philippi where the events in this section occur.
B. The Exhibition of His Glory – v.29
- We are told that “while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different …”
- The term “different” [ἕτερον] – describes a change in nature that is completely different that the original – something that Matthew describes as transforming [μετεμορφώθη] – cp. Matthew 17:1.
- Not only did His face change its appearance, but “His clothing became white and gleaming.”
- “white” [λευκός] – bright, shining – as brilliant as radiant light – cp. Matthew 17:2
- The idea of “gleaming” is the emitting of light with brilliance and flashes of light like lightning.
- Mark adds the detail is that it was so incomparably white that “no launderer on earth can whiten them.” – cp. Mark 9:3
- The glory that was manifested by Jesus was more of who He truly was than the mild, humble man that the disciples knew throughout His incarnation.
- When Jesus was incarnate, He emptied Himself of the glory that He innately possesses and took the “form” (outward manifestation of inner reality) and likeness of man – cp. Philippians 2:7
- Yet “the form of God” that he laid aside was being partially manifested here on the mountain – as if a corner of the cover was pulled out so that what He truly was is able to be seen.
- This was a means by which Jesus was being assured of the accomplishment of His upcoming suffering – holding out before Him what He would soon be regaining, the restoration of His glory – cp. John 17:5
- John, one of the disciples who was with Jesus when this happened, had the opportunity to describe His glory later in Revelation 1:12-16.
Recognizing that there many ways that Christ is glorified today, when did you last sense that the glory of God was on display in your life?
- Do you live in a way and pray in a way that expects the Lord to be glorified?
- How can these verses stimulate your appreciation for and worship of Jesus Christ?
The Discussion about the King’s Glory – 9:30-33
A. The Agenda to Initiate the King’s Glory – vv. 30-31
- Luke informs us that concurrent with Jesus’ transfiguration, “behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah …”
- “Moses” - likely chosen because of his experience as the one renown for physically leading God’s people out of captivity into the promised land – the very accomplishment that Jesus is committed to spiritually in His upcoming “departure.”
- “Elijah” - likely because of his experience in rapture or ascension – having ascended into heaven alive – cp. 2 Kings 2:11
- Together, “Moses and Elijah” represent the entirety of the Old Testament revelation of Christ – from the “Law and the Prophets” – cp. Luke 24:44
- Because they had been glorified through their unusual exits from life on this earth and had already gone ahead to Paradise where all of the OT saints were awaiting the accomplishment of Christ, Luke tells us they were “appearing in glory” – [δόξῃ] – the same word describing Jesus’ “glory.”
- Their conversation with Jesus was clear – they “were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”
- The term for “departure” is the word [ἔξοδον] – exodus – “the movement from one geographical area to another”
- They were discussing the predetermined plan of God that Jesus had come to fulfill, fortifying Jesus for what was before Him, while tasting together with Him the glory of the Kingdom when He returns “in glory.” – cp. John 12:27-28; Acts 2:22—24, 36
B. The Agenda to Indulge in the King’s Glory – vv. 32-33
- It was at this point that the disciples “woke up” – “Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep …” – indicating that their sleep was induced by God for the purpose of Jesus, Moses & Elijah “enjoying” their conversation.
- They tried to clear their eyes of what they were beholding – “but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him.”
- They were trying to figure out what was happening – having gotten to the event just as it was breaking up – “And it came about, as these were parting from Him …”
- Peter quickly decides that if they were going to be able to enjoy whatever marvelous thing that they had just about missed, they had to find a way to prolong it – “Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’”
- The text tells us that Peter didn’t think through what he was saying – “… not realizing what he was saying.” – Mark 9:6
- Peter, failed to grasp the affirmations that Jesus was receiving from “Moses and Elijah” that Jesus must proceed to Jerusalem and face the cross, tomb, and resurrection in order to secure the glory of the Kingdom.
- Rather, Peter was caught in the desire for the Kingdom to come now and had already opposed the idea that Jesus should suffer and die on the cross – cp. Matthew 16:21-23
- Peter was “not realizing what he was saying” and was naively suggesting that the inauguration of the Kingdom was happening before His very eyes.
- One of the reasons for his mistaken interpretation was that He was seeing the glory of the Kingdom.
- Second, the event took place as the Feast of Tabernacles which was approaching – an annual celebration of the anticipated presence of the Messiah during the Millennium – cp. Zechariah 14:16-19
- Third, Peter knew that Elijah was definitely associated with the establishment of the kingdom – cp. Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6
- Thus, the conclusion that Peter had jumped to was that this was the way Jesus was going to begin the Kingdom; it was now – this was the moment for which they had been waiting for and they ought to get busy to “seize the moment” and build booths to secure this supernatural Kingdom progress.
- How does Moses & Elijah’s presence with Jesus in this text reinforce your confidence in Christ Jesus as the Messiah?
- What practical warning do you receive from the sleepiness exhibited by the disciples that caused them to miss the discussion?
- What should you do when you do not know what to say in a situation?
The Declarations re: the King’s Glory – 9:34-36
A. The Rebuke for Inattentiveness to the Instruction of Christ – vv. 34-35
- Peter had foolishly asserted his own priorities and plans – ostensibly seeking to move forward to secure the beginning of the Kingdom.
- God the Father was not interested in Peter’s ideas and thus interrupted him – “And while he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.”
- This “cloud” was a visible manifestation of the Shekinah Glory – reminiscent of the cloud that descended and filled the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle – cp. Exodus 40:35
- It seems that the cloud fully engulfed Jesus, Moses and Elijah and began to extend even to the disciples and they were terrified as “they entered the cloud.”
- All of a sudden, “a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!‘”
- God the Father rebuked Peter – not merely because Peter was insulting Jesus by the proposal of three booths, but because he had refused to listen to Jesus re: the plan of God for Jesus’ path to glory – that He die, be buried and rise from the dead.
- God tells Peter to be quiet and take heed to His plan as it was spoken by Jesus His Son!
B. The Responsibility for Interest in the Glory of Christ – v. 36
- “When the void had spoken, Jesus was found alone” – Moses & Elijah as well as the cloud had disappeared.
- Jesus immediately reassures them that they did not need to fear and gently touches them - Matthew 17:7
- It is almost comical to read “And they kept quiet” – a true change in behavior for Peter!
- However, there is a reason to their silence – as they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus instructed them to tell no one until He had risen from the dead – cp. Matthew 17:9
- Their experience was unbelievable with the current knowledge about Christ and would be a detriment to their credibility.
- Sharing their experience re: Jesus’ real identity as the King and the glory of the kingdom would cause problems with the Romans who were quick to stamp out any rival – possibly seeking to kill Jesus independently of the Jews.
- Such news could reignite the Jews’ attempt to come and make Jesus their King by force as they had already attempted.
- Theologically, we also understand that a knowledge of Jesus’ glory could not be complete without the truth of His death and resurrection.
- As a result, “they kept silent, and reported to no one in those days any of the things which they had seen” – clearly waiting until after the resurrection as Jesus had said.
- Of course, the impact of their experience was indeed permanent –
- John’s summary of His experience was a bit muted compared to Peter’s – John 1:14
- Peter learned His lesson well and didn’t hesitate to speak of the necessary of all of us to pay attention to the Word of the Lord – 2 Peter 1:16-20.
- Do you know of any ways that God’s Word is unacceptable to you and you prefer your own way?
- What should you do when such a situation exists?
- Now that the Lord Jesus has died, risen from the dead, and ascended into glory, should we freely speak to others of His accomplishments?