28 About eight days later Jesus took Peter, John, and James up on a mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30 Suddenly, two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared and began talking with Jesus. 31 They were glorious to see. And they were speaking about his exodus from this world, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem.
32 Peter and the others had fallen asleep. When they woke up, they saw Jesus’ glory and the two men standing with him. 33 As Moses and Elijah were starting to leave, Peter, not even knowing what he was saying, blurted out, “Master, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials — one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 34 But even as he was saying this, a cloud overshadowed them, and terror gripped them as the cloud covered them.
35 Then a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him.” 36 When the voice finished, Jesus was there alone. They didn’t tell anyone at that time what they had seen.
37 The next day, after they had come down the mountain, a large crowd met Jesus. 38 A man in the crowd called out to him, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, my only child. 39 An evil spirit keeps seizing him, making him scream. It throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It batters him and hardly ever leaves him alone. 40 I begged your disciples to cast out the spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”
41 Jesus said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you and put up with you?” Then he said to the man, “Bring your son here.”
42 As the boy came forward, the demon knocked him to the ground and threw him into a violent convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit and healed the boy. Then he gave him back to his father. 43 Awe gripped the people as they saw this majestic display of God’s power.
While everyone was marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, 44 “Listen to me and remember what I say. The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies.” 45 But they didn’t know what he meant. Its significance was hidden from them, so they couldn’t understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.
Like we saw before with Jesus’ baptism, Luke makes the Transfiguration a prayer event, more for Jesus’ benefit than for his three companions. Luke is the only one to report Peter, John, and James sleeping, as well as the discussion they missed between Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, regarding, “his exodus from this world, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem.” Luke uses ‘exodus’ to echo Moses, and he changes what the Voice from the cloud says from ‘Beloved’ (both Matthew and Mark have that) to ‘Chosen One,’ all in an effort to seal the concept he has been driving for a while now: Jesus is Great Prophet Moses said would come.
When they come down from the mountain, Luke drops quite a bit of Mark’s account. The following get edited out:
- arguing between the disciples and scribes
- extended dialogue between Jesus and the dad about the boy’s condition
- Lesson on faith for the dad
- Disciples asking why they couldn’t
- lesson on prayer and fasting for the disciples
What is left is a simple story of a boy the disciples could not heal, and Jesus’ complaint (for some reason, I picture Jesus mumbling this under his breath, just loud enough for those closest to him to hear). The boy was an only child. Jesus heals him and gives him back to his dad, just as we have seen before.
Then Jesus again predicts his death. The disciples couldn’t heal the boy, now they don’t understand what Jesus is telling them. The matter remains hidden from them and the power to heal eludes them. Luke is already preparing us to understand that these disciples required special empowerment to carry on the work of Jesus after his exodus. Even this early, we are being set up for his Day of Pentecost account in Acts 2.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.