34While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him." 36When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen. "O unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here."
37The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. 38A man in the crowd called out, "Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. 40I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not."
41"O unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here."
42Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. 43And they were all amazed at the greatness of God.While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, 44"Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men." 45But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it. (NIV)
1. The Transfiguration provides a preview of the Lord Jesus Christ's ultimate glory and victory (vv. 28-29).
It is likely what Jesus was referring to when he said, in verse 27, "some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God".
"...they saw his glory" (v. 32) Compare this with Christ's words in Chapter 21: "at that time ("the end", 21:9), they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory....stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." (Lk 21:27-28)
"We need not doubt that this marvelous vision was meant to encourage and strengthen our Lord's disciples. They had just been hearing of the cross and passion, and the self-denial and sufferings to which they must submit themselves, if they would be saved. They were now cheered by a glimpse of the "glory that should follow," and the reward which all faithful servants of their Master would one day receive. They had seen their Master's day of weakness. They now saw, for a few minutes, a pattern and specimen of His future power." (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Luke)
2. Jesus is superior to Moses and Elijah; their prophetic roles point to him as the ultimate prophet (vv. 30-32).
Because of the purposes for which God had used them, Moses and Elijah represented "the law and the prophets" of the Old Testament, and Christ represents their fulfillment by fulfilling the law perfectly in the stead of His people (Mt 5:17-20), and calling us to repent and believe in Him (Lk 13:1-9; Jn 12:46).
The reason why Peter "did not know what he was saying" was because he assumed that Moses, Elijah and Jesus were equal in their prophetic office. God the Father set him straight very quickly in verses 34 and 35!
Discussion Question #1: Why you think it was difficult for Peter to see Jesus' uniqueness, even at this point? Can it be difficult for us as believers today to appreciate and act upon this fact too? How so?
3. Failure to believe in the power of God to destroy evil is a great sin (vv. 37-43a).
Even though the disciples had just recently returned from a short-term mission excursion, where they had proclaimed the good news of the kingdom, driven out demons and healed people (9:1-6), this encounter with the demon-possessed son somehow made them lose confidence in God's power: "Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, "Why couldn't we drive it out?" He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Mt 17:20-21)
"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does" (James 1:5-8)
Discussion Question #2: Why can it be so hard for God's people to believe in His power, even after all of the moments of grace and power that He has given them before?
4. The ways of Christ go against the grain of what we expect (vv. 43b-45).
The disciples were likely perplexed and dismayed to be reminded of Christ's words of suffering after experiencing such victorious moments.
Discussion Question #3: How do the ways of Christ sometimes go against what we expect him to do today? What do we need to be reminded of in such circumstances?