The Transfiguration demonstrates the glory of Jesus, but does it also emphasise how limited our knowledge is of time and space
The disciples were filled with grief (vv 22, 23). Is this a surprise or understandable?
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Going Deeper – from 'Words of Life'
Perhaps seeing the prophet on the mountain brought the question to the disciples’ minds. If Jesus was Messiah, why hadn’t Elijah appeared ahead of him as the teachers of Jewish law said he would? Jesus confirmed the scribes’ statement that Elijah would come before the Messiah, but then went on to say that he already had come. Something clicked and they understood that Jesus was talking about John the Baptist. Then Jesus connected John’s mistreatment and demise with his own impending death.
Back in the valley, Jesus expressed disappointment that his disciples’ faith had been so limited that they couldn’t bring healing to an epileptic boy or relief to his distraught parent. Jesus healed him and told his followers that even with the smallest measure of faith, nothing is impossible.
Mark’s Gospel gives a more detailed picture of the incident. Besides his emphasis on faith in God, Jesus adds, ‘This kind can come out only by prayer’ (Mark 9:29).
Back in Galilee Jesus iterated his upcoming ordeal of being betrayed, killed and raised again. Not even Peter argued with him this time, but perhaps they couldn’t grasp anything more than his death. Although Jesus again pointed toward something more, Matthew says that Jesus’ followers were grief-stricken or very sorry. Mark says that they didn’t understand and were afraid to ask him what he meant.
They were still learning that Jesus wouldn’t coerce people or sweep in as the conquering Messiah, but would draw them through his sacrificial love and be the ultimate victor over sin and death.
‘“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts”’ (Isaiah 55:8, 9).