Summary: The disciples’ refusal to understand Jesus’ Messiahship blinded them to the truth of His death and resurrection.
THOUGHTS ABOUT THE PASSAGE:
On the way down from the mountain top experience, Jesus commands these three disciples not to tell anyone what they had seen "till the Son of Man be risen from the dead" (v.9). It would not really be understood until after the resurrection, which would be proof that Jesus was truly the Son of God. These disciples had been so completely schooled in the idea that the Messiah would set up His kingdom on earth that they could not take in what Jesus had said.
Jesus knew quite well that their minds were still haunted by the conception of a Messiah of might and power. If they were to tell of what had happened on the mountain top, of how the glory of God had appeared, of how Moses and Elijah had appeared, how could this be made to fit in with popular expectations! The disciples still had to learn what Messiahship meant. There was only one thing that could teach them that—the Cross and the Resurrection to follow. When the Cross had taught them what Messiahship meant and when the Resurrection had convinced them that Jesus was the Messiah, then, and then only, could they tell of the glory of the mountain top. Then only would they see it as it ought to be seen, not a demonstration of His force, but to His sacrificial death in God’s love.
Probably because of just seeing Elijah on the mountain these disciples questioned Jesus as to why the scribes say that Elijah "must come first" (v.11). The Jews believed that before the Messiah would come, Elijah would come as a forerunner (Mal: 4:5, 6). He answered them by saying that Elijah had come. It appears that He was referring to the imprisonment of John the Baptist at the hands of Herod (Matt. 17:11-13) and that he had fulfilled the role prophesied for Elijah. He leaves them with the question that if they have done this to the forerunner, what will they do to the Messiah. As we can see later on they still did not understand. Their reason for not understanding was the same reason which always makes men fail to understand. They wanted things to turn out their way and they simply refused to see God’s way. The error of their thoughts blinded them to the truth.
I need to be careful that I am not blind to what God wants to do in and through my life because I have already decided how I want things to turn out. It is so easy to be blind to the truth when I already have a preconceived idea of how I want certain things to be.