Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 5 Study # 7
March 21, 2010
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:
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. Peter's Nonsense.
- A. What he said.
- 1. "Master..."
- a. Luke is the only New Testament writer to use the word here translated "Master". Its roots are in the idea of one's status as "standing above" others.
- b. We find his first use at 5:5 where we read of Jesus' command to Peter to lower his nets to catch fish and of Peter's obvious reluctance prefaced by "Master...". This is anomalous because it is inconsistent to "object" to a "Master", or to object to the direction of a "Leader". The next use is a two-fold repetition in 8:24 where panic stricken disciples awaken a sleeping Jesus because they are terrified by a storm that is filling their boat with water. In this setting Jesus asks them, "Where is your faith?". Then, in 8:45 we have the same word in the mouth of Peter (again) and he is expressing his incredulity at Jesus for His "foolish" question. This is twice Peter uses the word without any sense. Our current text is the next time we find the word in Luke's usage and it is, again, Peter saying something ignorant. In 9:49 John used the word to inform Jesus of how "we" were throwing our weight around "in Jesus' name" and Jesus refuses to let him get away with it. The last use is found in 17:13 and it runs true to form: people using the word without any real sense of its meaning: ten lepers seeking cleansing from the "Master", but only the Samaritan among them turning back to give Jesus thanks once the "Master" had given them such a great boon. After this we do not find Luke using the word any longer in his records.
- c. Conclusion: it is clearly within Luke's intention to show that the disciples in general, and Peter specifically, have an extremely superficial grasp of Jesus' identity and have no clue in regard to their use of "words". Thus, I have labeled this a record of "Peter's Nonsense".
- 2. What's in "building three tabernacles"?
- a. At the "essence" of a "tabernacle" is the issue of "a place to dwell". This is revealed by the calling of the two areas of what we call "The Tabernacle" "tabernacles" in Hebrews 9:2-3. The "larger" meaning of "The Tabernacle" included the entire area covered by the special tent which Israel built for God's presence in their midst. But, Hebrews 9:2 says that there was a first "tabernacle", called "The Sanctuary", that was the place where the candlestick, the table, and the showbread were placed. Then, Hebrews 9:3 says that there was a second "tabernacle" which was called "The Holiest of All". The point is this: in the overall tabernacle, there were two other "tabernacles". Thus, "tabernacle" essentially means "a place inhabited by certain items/persons". It is also clear from Hebrews 11:9 that "tabernacle" meant a "tent" that was used as a place to "live". The meaning, as shown from Nehemiah 8:15-17, was not what we call a "tent", but any dwelling that was not considered "permanently set". Genesis 33:17 implies that a "tabernacle" was designed to protect the inhabitant from inclement weather. Jonah even built himself one such to give him some shade from the sun.
- b. However, the fact that Israel built God a "tabernacle" in the wilderness and then had a "Feast of Tabernacles" assigned to them by that God signifies a certain exaltation of the term. When Peter blurted out his "let us make three tabernacles" words, he was likely to have been influenced by the conversation he had just overheard about an "Exodus" that Jesus was about to "fulfill" at Jerusalem (a concept that would have immediately brought "tabernacles" to mind: Leviticus 23:43) and he was unlikely to have any kind of permanent edifice in mind. What he was suggesting was simply a method of recognizing the exalted persons he had just seen. That two of them were departing before he spoke means that he did not intend for them to "live" in the tabernacles; they were to be some form of "memorial" to the "glorious persons" he had seen.
- 3. "Building three tabernacles", then, means that Peter wanted to "capture" the event (which is exactly the opposite significance of what a "tabernacle" implies). And in this attempt to capture, Peter wanted to treat "the glory" as the significant issue so that the "glorified" were reduced in significance. One can treat all "glorified" persons the same if the "glory" is the really significant issue -- a tabernacle for each. But this is the subversion of reality: Jesus is the significant One; the "glory" does not make Him significant, He makes the glory significant. He is not the testament to the glory; the glory is the testament to Him. This is the second element in Luke's record of Peter's nonsense.
- B. Why Luke recorded it.
- 1. "Blurted" words are enormously revealing; they come out of an unguarded heart.
- 2. There are at least two "unguarded" heart issues involved.
- a. Peter wanted to make the "event" more permanent in direct contradiction to the meaning of "tabernacle": a tabernacle is, by essence, something that is not permanent.
- b. Peter was impressed by the "glory" instead of the "glorified". This is like using the gold to "sanctify the Temple" rather than understanding that the Temple sanctifies the gold (Matthew 23:16-17).
- 3. For the King of the Kingdom to possess His Kingdom, He is going to have to do something that will permanently establish true values in the hearts of the heirs in contradiction to the false values by which all men live. When He does this, men will no longer use "words" that have an opposite meaning to their use by deceived and deceitful men.