Greater, Costly, And Glory
Send The Crowd Away
This section features Jesus miraculously providing food for five thousand people with only five loaves and two fish, with twelve baskets left over. The disciples had returned to Jesus and reported on their mission, and the crowds had followed them to Bethsaida. Jesus welcomed them, healing those who were sick, and as evening approached, the disciples suggested dispersing the crowd so they could find lodging and food. But Jesus had another idea, telling the disciples to feed them. They thought his advice was impossible, but Jesus had them sit down, and he provided enough food for everyone. This miracle showed that Jesus was greater than Moses.
The Christ Of God
The conversation up to this point has been leading to the momentous question posed in this account: who is Jesus? While Jesus is praying with the disciples present, he inquires who the crowds say he is. The disciples list the various opinions voiced, including John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the other ancient prophets. But Jesus does not leave the question to what others think but turns it to his disciples, asking them about his identity. Speaking for the others, Peter professes that Jesus is the Messiah, the King.
If Anyone Would Come After Me...
Jesus does not want his disciples to spread the word that he is the Messiah, as people will likely interpret this in political terms. Even so, he quickly begins to teach that he is a suffering Messiah, as God has intended for him to die and rise again. Any disciple following Jesus must deny themselves, carry their cross, and die for Jesus' sake. Despite these demands, being a disciple is worth it since a great reward awaits those who follow Jesus, while those who refuse to be his disciples will endure eternal loss. Some of the disciples will even glimpse the kingdom's power before the end of time.
A Glory Glimpse
The transfiguration narrative is strategically placed after Jesus has been recognized as the Messiah but before he has informed the disciples of his impending suffering. Through this account, we can see that suffering is a precursor to glory. Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a mountain, and there he is transformed before them, revealing his glory. Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets, appear and discuss Jesus' death, showing that it is the path to glory. Peter tries to suggest building three tents for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, but he completely misses the point. The cloud of divine presence overshadows them, and the divine voice declares Jesus as God's Son and the Chosen One. They are left with Jesus alone and are commanded not to tell anyone what they have seen. The story's point is that Jesus, who is destined to suffer, is God's Son and his Chosen One, and death will not be the end of the story. He will return in glory.
Faithless And Twisted
We find several issues in this section. The transfiguration has revealed Jesus' glory, yet those on earth remain unaware of his identity, showing them to be a "faithless and twisted generation" (Luke 9:41). Jesus casts out a demon, displaying God's power (vv. 37–43a). At the same time, Jesus reminds the disciples about his future suffering, but they cannot comprehend his words (vv. 43b–45).
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