The Transfiguration, Part 2: True Kingdom Business | Mark 9:2–8

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.

We can only imagine what the glory of the moment was like for the disciples.  Peter had certainly put some information together.  He knew that Jesus is the Messiah (8:29), and that Jesus had just been teaching on the coming kingdom (9:1).  He had some important ideas, but not yet the most important.

Peter is concerned for Kingdom business.  Peter had been falling asleep just moments ago (Lk 9:32) but is now wide-awake with terror at the supernatural events unfolding before them—it’s safe to say that Peter’s mind struggled with the situation!  Still, he speaks more truth than we might suspect in the moment.  He wants Moses and Elijah to stay, and offers to build booths, perhaps reflecting upon the Feast of Booths kept in the kingdom (Zech 14:15). 

But, Peter is insufficiently concerned.  It is interesting that, while the three were discussing what Jesus was to accomplish in Jerusalem, Peter interrupts to insistent for future glory.  This would be the second time in a week that Peter has shunned talk of the death of Christ (cf. 8:31–32).  That would explain the sudden, fearful sight of the glory cloud overshadowing them, and why the Father’s command for obedience cuts off Peter’s words (cf. Mt 17:5; Lk 9:34).

Peter is only concerned with what God says will be, not with what God has also said must first be.  When Peter reflects upon this glorious episode at the end of his life, he uses it as an illustration of the supremacy of Scripture and the need to listen to it (2 Pt 1:16–21).  It seems he learned his lesson—a commitment to everything God says is more important than a glimpse of glory.  As Warren Wiersbe says, “Discipleship is not built on spectacular visions but on the inspired, unchanging Word of God.”[1]

[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 141.

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