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:
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 Final Declarations.
A. This paragraph opened as a record of the fulfillment of Jesus' prophetic utterance that there were some of His disciples who would "see" the Kingdom of God before they "tasted of death". Now it closes with the statement that they told no one of what they had "seen".
B. Luke is unique in his "omission" of what Matthew and Mark both record: Jesus said to tell the vision to no man until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead (Matthew 17:9 and Mark 9:9). John, unlike the other three "recorders of perspectives of Jesus", does not even mention this entire event.
1. Luke tells us that "they told no man", but he omits the fact that they were commanded by Jesus to act in that manner except for 9:21 where He was adamant that they "tell no man" that He is the Christ of the God. Matthew 16:20 and Mark 8:30 record this same demand and yet also record that He told the three not to tell what they had seen on the mountain.
2. The questions are...
a. Why were Peter, John, and James given this "experience" and not the others?
b. What difference was it going to make if they "told" others like Luke does in his record?
c. Why does a post-resurrection "telling" make any difference (a fact that Luke also omits)?
3. Some answers may well be...
a. Peter, John, and James were selected by Jesus (and His Father) to have greater influence on the Church in the days to come (On this point, see Galatians 2:9 but be aware that the "James" of Luke's record is the brother of John who was martyred by Herod in Acts 12:2 and the "James" of Galatians 2:9 is a different man who had risen to great influence in the Church by the time of Acts 15:13). The point is that those who are to be highly influential in the lives of others need to have a more profound foundation laid in their lives than those whose influence will not be as widespread.
b. The "telling" is not "important" from one perspective: the intention behind the decision of whether to tell or not to tell. For John's "evangelistic" purposes in his Gospel, there is no need to even refer to the event. But for Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the event makes a significant contribution to their "pictures of Jesus". Matthew and Mark both make sure their readers know that it was by Jesus' insistence that the three did not initially "tell" anyone what they had seen. This, like the entire record, had something to do with their perspectives of Jesus and how they wished to communicate those perspectives. Luke, on the other hand, did not feel that it was necessary for his reader to know that Jesus had forbidden the telling, though he did feel it was necessary for Theophilus to know that the three told no one anything of what they had seen. In Luke 5:14 Jesus commanded the cleansed leper to "tell no man". In 8:56 Jesus told the parents of the girl He raised to "tell no man". As noted above, in 9:21 he emphaticallydemanded that the disciples "tell no man" that He was the Christ and this may well be the reason for the current statement since telling what they had seen would have been the same thing as saying that He is the Christ. The issue of "telling no man" probably, however, included the other disciples and this is a bit of an enigma. Jesus, Himself, made distinctions between the disciples by taking only three up on the mountain, so the fact that they were not to tell anyone -- probably including their fellow members of The Twelve -- is simply a part of that selective treatment.
c. Once the final element of the evidence is "in" -- the resurrection from the dead -- the "telling" can be done. The issue seems to be this: the forgiveness of sins on a grace basis is so profoundly contrary to everything men "believe" that it cannot be allowed to rest upon any lesser evidence than "proof positive" that it is true. Nothing but "resurrection from the dead" can actually prove that a "restored life with God" has been made available. The power of life from the dead is the "final argument" (this is even the "argument" of the antichrist in Revelation 13:3 and 12-14). The backdrop of this reality is another reality: all men will be raised from the dead and relegated to an eternal experience that is rooted in whether they "believed" that Jesus is the "I AM" (John 8:24) and this "eternal experience" is, beyond argument, the most critical issue of man's existence.