In our last lesson, we covered the events found in Matthew 16, which included a warning about the leaven of the Pharisees and Peter’s great confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. In this lesson, we are going to start out by looking at the transfiguration. This great event is recorded in Matthew 17, Mark 9 and Luke 9 and it is briefly mentioned in 2 Peter 1:17-18.  Luke’s account gives us the most details, but each account of this adds additional information that I want point out along the way. Let us begin in:


Luke 9:28 Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray.


I want you to notice what Mark’s account says, which is the same as Matthew’s account.


Mark 9:2 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them.


When you first read this, you might think there is a contradiction because Luke says 8 days and the other two accounts say six days. However, there is no contradiction when we pay attention to the details. Notice, Luke says about eight days. He was not giving a specific time, but was telling us that it had been about a week. However, Matthew and Mark give us a more detailed account of many days had passed which was six. So, there is no contradiction here at all.


As I mentioned in a previous lesson, Jesus allowed these three apostles to come with Him on three special occasions that the others were not part of. Of course, there may have been other times this was done, but they are not recorded for us. The other accounts tell us that this mountain they went up on was a high mountain. Since, the mountain is not named, we can only speculate on which one it was. Many believe this was Mount Hermon.


Luke tells us the initial purpose of this trip up the mountain. It was to pray. We could certainly learn from this about the importance of getting away from everything that might distract us and to spend time in prayer.  Next we read:


Luke 9:29 As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.


The other accounts say that He was transfigured before them. Notice some of the details that the other accounts give about the appearance of Jesus at this time.


Mark 9:3 His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.


Matthew 17:2 … His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.


What a sight that must have been to see Jesus’ appearance and even His clothes at that moment. We all know how bright the sun is so we can idea of how Jesus’ face must have looked like. The fact that His cloths glistened and are described as being whiter than anyone could ever make it on earth tells us that it must have been hard to look at Jesus without squinting. Next, Luke writes:


Luke 9:30 And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah,  31 who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.


These two great men from the past Moses and Elijah were speaking to Jesus about what He was going to have to do at Jerusalem, which is talking about His death. Jesus’ physical death on the cross would be the most important death in all of history because His death would bring about a new covenant it would bring about the forgiveness of sin that would flow backwards before the cross and continue to flow forward until Jesus comes back again. As the writer of Hebrews wrote:


Hebrews 9:22 And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.  23 Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.  24 For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;  25 not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another --  26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.


Why Moses and Elijah? I cannot answer this question dogmatically, but it seems to me that Moses represents the law of Moses and Elijah the prophets of old. Next, we read:


Luke 9:32 But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him.


Here we learn that while Jesus was being transfigured and these two mighty men of faith appeared with Jesus while these apostles were in a deep sleep. I am sure we have all experienced that feeling of being in deep sleep and being woke up from it. For me, it takes a while for me to even open my eyes and everything is blurry. This is what I envision as I think about these men waking up from their deep sleep. As they are rubbing their eyes trying to figure out who is talking and what this bright light is all about, I could just imagine how confusing this event would have been for them. Once they became fully awake, they could clearly see the glory of Jesus and these other two men. 


Luke 9:33  Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah" -- not knowing what he said.


Mark’s account adds this:


Mark 9:6  because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid.


Moses and Elijah were going to leave because their discussion with Jesus was over, but Peter, staying true to his character, spoke out without thinking and did not really even know what he was saying. As Mark informs, he did this because he was scared by all this and just simply said the first thought that came to his mind.


As many times as Peter would speak the wrong things throughout Scriptures, it exemplifies why James says:


James 1:19  So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;


As tempting as is may be, we do not have to make a response to everything that we see or hear. Instead, it is better to remain silent sometimes than to say the first thing you think of because that rarely works out well.


Peter’s initial thought was to build tabernacles for all three men,  perhaps to give them a place to speak to the masses from. Of course, we have no idea what his thoughts were exactly because not even he knew why he even said what he did. What is interesting to me is that he knew who Elijah and Moses were. How? It is not like he ever saw them with his eyes before. In my opinion, there are three possible ways for him to know who these men were. 1. He made a really good guess based on how he thought they would look. 2. He heard Jesus call them by name in their discussion. 3. This was a precursor to heaven showing that God will make it possible for you to know who everyone is heaven.


I do not think number one is the answer. While number two might be possible, I think number 3 is the reasons they knew.


Luke 9:34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud.  35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!"


It is not that uncommon for a cloud to move in on a high mountain. I experienced this in Colorado on vacation once, but this was not a typical cloud coming in that surrounded all six men because once all six men entered the cloud, God spoke out of heaven saying: "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!" Matthew’s account tells us that the cloud came and surrounded them while Peter was still talking and also adds more of what God said. He said: Matthew 17:5 "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!"


The apostles were the only ones who were afraid. If it scared them after seeing Jesus, Moses, Elijah, and the cloud sourounded them, then it must have really scared them when God spoke out telling them what they should do. Matthew’s account adds this:


Matthew 17:6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.  7 But Jesus came and touched them and said, "Arise, and do not be afraid."  8 When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.


This shows us that hearing God’s voice drove them to the ground. You can just imagine the fear that three men were experiencing at the moment, but as they buried their faces in the ground, Jesus comes for to them and touches them and tells them get up and not be afraid. Like waking up from a nightmare, they lift their heads up and Moses and Elijah were gone. Only Jesus was left.


I believe this is very significant because God told them they need to listen to His Son. Why? Because He is the one in which salvation will come through. He is the one who will have all authority in heaven and earth. They law of Moses and the message of the prophets of old would be fulfilled by Jesus and would no longer be binding, which is why God said hear Him. As Paul wrote:


Ephesians 2:14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,  15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,  16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.


Colossians 2:14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.


Mark’s account says:


Mark 9:9 Now as they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead.  10 So they kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant.


These three could have never known what they would experience that day as they went up on the mountain to pray and to sleep as Luke points out. As they came down from the mountain their minds were no doubt going over everything they saw, but Jesus commands them not to speak of what they saw until after He was raised from the dead. They did not speak of it, but we can see that they have no idea what Jesus meant about being raised from the dead.

Jesus told His disciples many times that He must die and be raised back to life, but they did not ever understand this until after Jesus died and was raised from the dead.


Matthew 17:10 And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?"  11 Jesus answered and said to them, "Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things.  12 "But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands."  13 Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.

Though His disciples had no idea what Jesus meant about Him rising from the dead, they did not ask Him about that. Instead, they asked him about Elijah and his coming. It seems they might have thought this appearance of Elijah might be the fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy about Elijah.


Jesus confirms that Elijah would do this, but that it was not to be Elijah himself, but another with the spirit of Elijah which was John the Baptist. As Jesus said, he has already come and prepared the way and has already suffered, which ended with him being beheaded. Jesus points out how He is going to suffer at the hands of those who oppose Him as well. While they were still clueless about Jesus being raised from the dead, at least they understood that the prophecy about Elijah spoken of by Micah happened through John the Baptist.


Our next event is recorded in these same three accounts. Mark’s account says:


Mark 9:14 And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them.  15 Immediately, when they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him, greeted Him.  16 And He asked the scribes, "What are you discussing with them?"


As Jesus made His way down the mountain, He can see a crowd ahead surrounding the nine apostles. The scribes were disputing something with them. When the  people saw Jesus on the way, they ran to Him and greeting Him. Jesus then asked the scribes what is that they are discussing with His disciples. I do not believe that Jesus did not know already, but this would be a good opportunity to make known to everyone what was going on here.


Mark 9:17 Then one of the crowd answered and said, "Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit.  18 "And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not."


Matthew’s account adds the following:


Matthew 17:14 a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying,  15 "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.


Luke’s account says:


Luke 9:38 "Teacher, I implore You, look on my son, for he is my only child.  39 "And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out; it convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and it departs from him with great difficulty, bruising him.


Though the scribes did not provide the answer, this desperate father did because his only child was possessed by a demon who caused him suffer severely with all the different things we just read. Though Jesus had given these apostles the power to cast out demons and to even raise the dead, they could not cast this demon out, which gave these scribes something to work with. All the other times, they could never deny that a miracle was done or that a demon was cast out, but this time the apostles were being viewed as failures. So, I could just imagine the scribes using their failure to try and gain the favor with the people as they were probably calling them fakes along with many other false accusations.


Mark 9:19 He answered him and said, "O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me."


Jesus rebukes them all for the lack of faith and has them bring the boy before Him.


Mark 9:20 Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth.  21 So He asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood.  22 "And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us."  23 Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes."  24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"


One thing we learn throughout the life of Christ is that the demons did not like Jesus being in their presence. This case is no different because the demon started doing what he could to the boy as he was near Jesus. When Jesus asked the father how long this had been happening, I think he asked this for the people that were there so they could know these details.


One thing we learn throughout the life of Christ is that the demons did not like Jesus being in their presence. This case is no different because the demon started doing what he could to the boy as he was near Jesus. When Jesus asked the father how long this had been happening, I think he asked this for the people that were there so they could know these details.


Jesus did not always require faith to do miracles or cast out demons, but this time He wants this father to really show his sincerity and to serve as an example to the other listening. You have to love the response of the father who said, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" In other words, yes, he believes, but if there is any doubt whatsoever in him, he wants help to fully believe because he wants his only son to be free from this demon.


Mark 9:25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!"  26 Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, "He is dead."  27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.


Not only did Jesus cast out this unclean spirit, He also commanded him not to return to him. When you think about this, it is pretty scary that even when a demon was cast out it could come back and enter the person again. I am so glad that demon possession was temporary and is no longer happening today.


This unclean spirit went out with a fight by crying out and convulsing the boy so much that it left him unconscious, making some think he was dead, but Jesus took him by the hand and he rose up free from this demon possession. Luke’s account tells that he also healed the boy, which means to me that He healed the damage done to him by this demon, and he gave his son over his father.


Luke 9:43 And they were all amazed at the majesty of God. But while everyone marveled at all the things which Jesus did, He said to His disciples,  44 "Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men."  45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was hidden from them so that they did not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this saying.


Matthew’s account adds:


Matthew 17:23 "and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up." And they were exceedingly sorrowful.


As you would expect the crowd was amazed at what Jesus was able to do, which would have also silenced the scribes who were tying to take advantage of this situation. Jesus wants His disciples to pay close attention to what He is about to say, which is why He says, let these words sink down in your ears. He tells them how is going to be betrayed into the hands of men, which Judas would do, but they had no idea what He was talking about and they were too afraid to ask Him what He meant by that.


Mark 9:28 And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?"  29 So He said to them, "This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting."


Later, when Jesus was in a house His disciples want to know why they could not cast this demon out. Jesus tells them this kind of demon, which implies it was a different kind than most, could only be cast out by prayer and fasting. However, I believe that Matthew gets to the heart of the whole problem as we read in:


Matthew 17:20  So Jesus said to them, "Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.  21 "However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."


Perhaps the apostles took the abilities given to them for granted. So, when they came across this demon, which appears to be stronger than most, they did not think about calling on their Father in heaven or think about fasting. Had their faith not been so weak, they would have thought about the avenue of prayer or what fasting might have done for them.


You show me someone today who has a weak faith, and I can guarantee you that they have a poor prayer life as well. We must be careful today not to forget about the importance of prayer and even the importance of fasting. Though fasting is not commanded, fasting and prayer really helps us focus on God and our reliance on Him.


Mark 9:30 Then they departed from there and passed through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know it.


So, they leave from there and make their way through Galilee, and He did His best to keep their journey secret. Matthew tells us:


Matthew 17:24 When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, "Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?"  25 He said, "Yes." And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?"  26 Peter said to Him, "From strangers." Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are free.  27 "Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you."


I really like Mr. Coffman’s comment on verse 24. He said:


This half-shekel was a Jewish poll tax levied annually for the support of the temple, a tax which Jesus perhaps had paid often in the past; but the appearance of the solicitors with an inquiry placed a different face on things. IF Christ paid the tax, it would mean, in a sense, that he was laying claim to no special dignity but was accepting the status of an ordinary Jew, rabbis being exempt. To be sure, Jesus might have claimed exemption as a Jewish rabbi, or teacher; but to have done so would have compromised his higher claim to be the Messiah, which claim was widely known, though disputed by his enemies. A refusal to pay it would have involved him as a technical lawbreaker; and it is likely that the dilemma involved in these various facets of the problem was what prompted the inquiry in the first place. The poll tax was generally left to voluntary compliance; for centuries no enforcement structure existed and no penalties for default were prescribed or enforced. However, about the time of Christ, regulations had been posted, with mild penalties; but these were rarely enforced. (Coffman Commentary).


Jesus points out to Peter that he does not really owe the temple tax because He is the Son of God, but to keep the peace, He provides a way for Peter to pay their taxes in a unique way. First, you will notice that Jesus already knew Peter was going to ask Him about the tax. Second, He has  Peter go to the sea to catch a fish that has a coin in his mouth that would be enough to pay the taxes for both of them.


This in another amazing miracle that Jesus would do that shows He is in control over the fish of the sea  to have the right fish that has a coin in his mouth to bite on Peter’s hook. These miracles Jesus did were amazing. Could you imagine being Peter and throwing your fishing line out in the water and then hooking a fish bringing it to shore. I could just image how fast he must have looked in that fish’s mouth, and the look on his face he must of had when he found the coin there.


What awesome Saviour we have. In this lesson, we learned about the transfiguration, a stubborn demon, and fish with a coin in his mouth.