The first 27 verses of this chapter consist of details told in Mark 6 (sending out the Apostles, and the feeding of the five thousand) and Matthew 16 (Peter’s confession, and Jesus’ foretelling of His death and resurrection. Jesus took Peter, John, and James with Him in verse 28 to pray on the mountain where they witnessed an unforgettable sight, as His appearance and even His clothing are transformed; and Moses and Elijah (representing the Law and the Prophets) appeared and spoke of Jesus departure “he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” This of course , refers to what follows His coming crucifixion and resurrection. Just as Peter speaks hastily again (verse 33), they hear the voice of God declaring what Peter had said – that Jesus is the son of God. Peter assumed that Moses and Elijah would stay with them, but they were gone after God spoke, saying “Listen to Him.” The presence and removal of those two seems significant, as well understand the scriptures today.
As Jesus foretells His death and resurrection in verse 44, verse 45 is one of a few verses that tell us how understanding and recognition was concealed from the disciples at various times until after Jesus departed following His resurrection (see also Luke 18:34 and Luke 24:16). It is no small wonder then, that they began debating their own importance over each other. Jesus settles the dispute with another statement in verse 48 that they would not yet understand – “he who is least among you all is the one who is great.” He would have more to say about this in Luke 22:26.
The lessons of verses 57-62 are in light of the urgency of the moment at which Jesus encounters them. Two say that they want to follow Him, and He tells another to follow Him. He tells one that he will have to make sacrifices in order to do so (verse 58). The other two speak of matters important to them at the time that they want to take care of first (59, 61). This was no time for other priorities; and though these instances refer to a more physical following, the application for us is the same – that following Jesus must take first priority in our lives.
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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