Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 5 Study # 3
February 14, 2010
29 And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.
30 And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias:
31 Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.
32 But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.
33 And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.
34 While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.
35 And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
36 And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.
1901 ASV Translation:
29 And as he was praying, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became white and dazzling.
30 And behold, there talked with him two men, who were Moses and Elijah;
31 who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
32 Now Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: but when they were fully awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.
33 And it came to pass, as they were parting from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah: not knowing what he said.
34 And while he said these things, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.
35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my Son, my chosen: hear ye him.
36 And when the voice came, Jesus was found alone. And they held their peace, and told no man in those days any of the things which they had seen.
- I. The Change in Jesus' Appearance.
- A. Occurred as He was praying.
- 1. Luke, obviously, wanted Theophilus to link the prayer and the alterations of Jesus' face and garment, but this was, apparently, not the "norm" for what happened when Jesus prayed.
- 2. This means that Luke was intentionally tying the prophetic utterance of 9:27 to this particular time of prayer.
- a. This signals a fact: Jesus simply did not "act on His own" when He went about His "Kingdom business". His actions arose from His interactions with the Father [Note John 5:19 and 8:28].
- b. This raises a question of whether His "approach" is to be "copied" by those who are His disciples. In one sense, it has to be copied. In another, it cannot be copied. As a general principle of Life, men are to always pray about everything (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and never "lean on their own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5). But, as a specific action of Jesus, He was a prophet who received "prophetic" visions (John 5:19 and Revelation 1:1) and no one who is not such a prophet can expect that his "prayer" will result in such direct instruction. There is, however, this "overlap": prayer, apparently, results in the wisdom of divine illumination (James 1:6) to the degree that men not only "ought" to expect it, they are chastened by James' words if they do not -- "...let not that man (the one who does not expect wisdom from the Lord) think that he shall receive anything of the Lord..." (James 1:7).
- 1) The "problem" here is this: James says nothing about the methods of the Lord's "giving of wisdom". He only promises that wisdom will be given and, for the one who is expecting it, the giving will, apparently, be sufficiently "obvious" to the recipient that he/she can go forward in real "faith".
- 2) The even greater "problem" is that some think that they have been given "sufficiently obvious" wisdom but the actions that they subsequently take are ungodly when measured by the Scriptures. How and why does this happen, and how does anyone "act in faith" given this reality? It is not an easy dance to master. Almost everyone admits to some form of equivocation; either saying things like "it takes time to learn which 'voice' is the Father's voice", or like "a novice needs to seek the counsel of more mature believers", or some such 'qualification' of the "promise". So, how good is a promise that is so "qualified" that no one can effectively "believe" it? None; it is no good. Thus, these equivocations need to be set aside and a different tack must be taken. In the Scriptures, there is this overriding principle: God oversees and directs the circumstances of men to the degree that those among men who trust Him are to understand that His oversight goes all the way down to the numbering of the hair upon one's head (Luke 12:7) and to the death of every "little sparrow" (Luke 12:6). In addition to this principle, another stands side by side with it: God's oversight is principally directed to the one goal of bringing the "love of God" into reality in the hearts of men (1 Timothy 1:5). Thus our questions are answered. When a person "prays" for wisdom within a context of already determined bounds, there is no guarantee that he will get "wisdom". "Already determined bounds" is not "submission" to the Father and it crimps His willingness and, perhaps, even His ability to impart the "wisdom". It is only when a believer puts everything "on the altar" (including his/her own strongest desires) that he/she receives wisdom from the Father. No "father" would ever allow a "child" who had no personal "agenda" to go without direction, but many are the wise "fathers" who, knowing the commitment of their children to false agendas, permit them to go their way so that the going will become a means to the end of getting the child to come to the realization that taking a personal agenda to God is an idolatrous act.
- B. Consisted of ...
- 1. An alteration of the appearance of His face. The nature of this alteration is unspecified. Luke used the typical word for "a distinctly other" to communicate this change, but he did not attempt to explain himself. He literally said, "...the form of His face became 'other' ...", but he did not say in what way it was "distinct".
- 2. An alteration of the appearance of His garment. The nature of this alteration is specified: the garment radiated brightness.
- C. Is left up to the reader to imagine what actually transpired in the sense of the "how" that the changes were affected. It may well have been that the changes were caused by the appearance of the "glory" that will mark the Kingdom.
- 1. The "whiteness" is deliberately associated with the garments of those who have access to the Third Heaven in several of the contexts of the Gospels/Acts and is the predominant association in the Book of the Revelation. Since the prophecy was that some of those who were disciples would "see" the Kingdom of God (9:27), it makes all kinds of sense to assume that the "whiteness" is "heavenly".
- 2. That the "whiteness" became "glistering" (brilliant, or radiant), pushes us pretty hard into the notion that this is the outshining of glory. Paul may well have had this in mind in his declaration in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that those who 'behold" His glory are transformed into its likeness because Jesus, in prayer, was in direct contact with the Father and the "shield" of His material body may well have dissipated by the "becoming other" that Luke declares of His face. In other words, the inherent glory of the Son, being generally hidden within His physical body, was revealed as the body was altered so as to permit the sight. Thus, the prophecy was fulfilled in this sense: the "King" is the "Kingdom" and seeing Him in some degree of Kingdom glory is to see the Kingdom.
- D. Is deliberately aimed at the disciples' need for a most fundamental demonstration of the Truth to which they must be loyal and for which they will die: Jesus is the Christ of God; a truth that makes everything except abject love/faith completely silly.