In today's study we look at Matthew 16:21-17:2 and see what it really means to follow Christ and the significance of the Transfiguration.
v.21 From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. The Kingdom is being rejected and now our Lord turns his attention toward Jerusalem and his crucifixion. This must have come as a total shock to the disciples as that they were not looking for a "Suffering Messiah" but a "Reigning Messiah."
Notice, "and be raised again the third day." They probably did not hear this because they had to be reminded later. Luke tells us that even though they did not fully grasp what he was saying here, they ultimately did (Luk 24:6-8).
vv.22-23 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!" But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." Here we see Peter's misunderstanding. Understand that Peter's reaction was out of total love for his Lord. However, unbeknownst to him, he was being used by Satan to keep Jesus from the cross. Just goes to show that you do not have to be possessed by demons to be used by Satan.
Notice, "for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." In other words, you're thinking worldly instead of spiritually.
Call to Denial
v.24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. After announcing that he was going to Jerusalem to die, he encouraged his disciples to be willing to do the same. That is totally against our nature. Second only to our desire for air is our desire for survival. And yet, the Christian faith is about death and denial. Both of those fly in the face of our flesh.
vv.25-27 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. This is the great paradox of the Christian faith. John 12:24 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." In other words, the command here is that we look past the present and look to the future.
Shall not Taste Death
v.28 Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." What did this mean? The answer is in the next chapter.
vv.1-2 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. Here we see the transfiguration. It's curious as to why the Lord only took these three apostles. Why not the rest? Maybe it's because these three would prove to be the pillars of the church? Maybe it's because they needed to see with their own eyes to believe while the other did not?
The word "transfiguration" means that Jesus begins to shine so brightly that it was very difficult to even look at him. Much like when Moses came down from Mt. Sinai. David Guzik says that this was not the miracle of the transformation. The miracle was that our Lord could keep his glory under wraps for as long as he did. This is the fulfillment of the last first of the last chapter!
However, there was some confusion that came from it later because some felt that some of the apostles would live to see the Second Coming of Christ. Later John 21:22 compounded the issue.