Summary: St. Peters' last words about the Transfiguration before his death. Luke 9:29 reveals that Jesus' appearance was not merely some luminous glow but more deeply means that as he predicted his death he appeared to be more resolved and determined.
“The Last Words of St. Peter” Transfiguration
“They didn’t tell anyone what they had seen until long after this happened.” Luke 9:36
“We have seen his majestic splendor with our own eyes.” 2 Peter 1:16
Intro: When Thomas Edison invented the first light bulb, he handed the bulb to his young apprentice who anxiously carried the bulb upstairs. Yes, you might have guessed it; the nervous young boy stumbled and dropped it shattering it on the floor. It took another tedious twenty-four hour day of non-stop work to make another bulb. When completed Edison handed the second bulb to the same assistant. This time the boy carried the bulb more carefully. If at first you don’t succeed, do you give people a second chance?
We all make mistakes. We all have faults and make human errors. We have all seen people stumble and fall down. Where would you be if someone had not given you a second chance? What if someone had not believed in you enough to help you up or let you try again?
God is in the business of giving people a second chance. Probably no one knew this better than Simeon Peter. Whether it was thinking outside the boat and trying to walk on water or Peter who always was the one to speak before he thought. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus just gave Peter the biggest compliment and mission anyone could have. “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church and the powers of hell will not conquer it.” Only a few minutes later Peter speaks without thinking and this time Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get thee behind me Satan.” Matthew 16:23.
But for all of Peter’s weaknesses and mistakes, Jesus saw potential in him. That potential was good enough encouragement for Peter, that after Jesus’ death, it is Peter who takes up the cross and becomes the Saint who leads the “Christ-like ones” to become the church of believers.
As we look deep into the scriptures for today we see two accounts of men who stood looking into the mystical portal of time. The first is Jesus. He is standing on the mountain, even though he is visited by two men from the past, Moses and Elijah, Jesus is really looking into the near future. He sees the road to Jerusalem and the glorious fulfillment of God’s plan.
The second man to look into the spiritual portal of time is St. Peter. He is in Rome. Peter is looking into his near future. He sees the same death by crucifixion as Jesus. But before he dies he wants to remind the believers and us of the unchanging truths of the glorious gospel.
The disciple Peter knew that his time on earth was limited and drawing near to an end. 2 Peter 1:12-18. These were some of Peters' last words written before his death and Peter wants to make sure that people remember the event of the Transfiguration. Luke 9:29 “And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.” Most sermons end at saying “his face changed, and his clothes were dazzling white.” They stop far short of the deeper meaning of what took place. A close examination of the Greek words that describe Jesus’ appearance such as fashion, countenance, white and glistering are all words that are not likely to describe his physical form looked differently. For example the word “fashion” in the Greek “eidos” means to know, to become aware, to understand fully and then be sure of. So it is more likely that instead of some luminous glow that looked on Jesus’ face instead there was one of resolve and determination. Radiant in Greek: “lampros” is the word for light really just means “it became clear to see.” While words like “white” and “glistering” are not physical but again they mean a look of understanding. Things looked clear.
After he had spoke with Moses and Elijah, Jesus looked ahead in time and saw the road to Jerusalem and predicted his death on the cross, but that did not sway or break his strength of will or his fortitude of purpose. Jesus was not weakened by the mission that was ahead of Him, but he was more determined and sure than ever that he was going to carry out God’s plan of salvation and save the world from its sin. That is the meaning and power behind the Transfiguration.
There will be moments in your life when it seems like something falls away, and we see deeper, below the surface of everyday attention and it becomes real to us that God is calling us to “Make Disciples and Transform the World for Christ Together.”
Friends, that is the change that took place in the disciples after Jesus death. They were frightened and scattered, crushed and overwhelmed, devastated by seeing their Messiah crucified on the cross. They were feeling hopeless. Threatened and persecuted by the rest of the world who wanted to crush and put an end to this group of rebels who challenged the way of thinking of the religious leaders. Jesus changed the status quo. He set the disciples sights on things beyond the walls of the temple in Jerusalem to see the least, the last, the lost that were sitting outside who were setting in the shadows of the walls of the church and Jesus said, invite them in.