March 13, Friday
From this point in His ministry Jesus began to openly state that He would suffer at the hands of the Jewish leaders, that they would have Him killed, and that He would rise up on the third day.
One time after hearing this, Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “There’s no way this could happen to You, Lord!”
Jesus looked at Peter and said, “You don’t know what you’re saying. Satan is using you to trap Me. Be gone, Satan! And you, Peter, are relying on your own understanding and don’t have a clue what God is doing.”
Jesus gathered the people and His disciples around Him and began to explain what it meant to truly be His disciple. “Following Me means giving up your right to run your life the way you want to. If you’re willing to ‘lose’ your agenda by embracing Mine, you will find the real meaning of life — even if it costs you everything you now think is so important. However, if you pursue earthly success, it could cost you your very soul.
“At the end of history I will come, shining with My Father’s glory and accompanied by holy angels, to reward each of you according to what you’ve done. If the record shows that you’ve been too embarrassed or ashamed to identify with Me in front of your friends and this godless world, I’ll be ashamed of you.
“There are some in this crowd who will actually get to see a glimpse of what that Kingdom glory is like before they die!”
About a week after He said this, Jesus took three of His disciples, Peter, James, and John, to the top of a high mountain to pray.
While they were praying, Jesus’ body began to glow brighter than anything the disciples had ever seen. His face radiated light like the sun and His robe glistened with indescribable brilliance.
Suddenly two men, also glowing, appeared and began discussing Jesus’ impending death. Somehow the disciples recognized them as Elijah and Moses. The disciples had been dozing when all this began. By the time they were fully awake, the two men were getting ready to leave.
Peter, not sure what to say and overwhelmed by what they were seeing, blurted out, “Master, Teacher, this is incredible! Would You like us build three shelters, one each for You, Moses, and Elijah?” We’re not sure what Peter was thinking when he suggested this, but then he didn’t know what he was saying either.
Immediately they were enveloped by a massive brilliant cloud which frightened them. Then a voice spoke out of the cloud, saying, “This is My precious Son who is a delight to Me. Listen to Him.” At this the disciples fell on their faces to the ground in utter terror.
Jesus came right over to them and touched them gently, saying, “It’s all right, don’t be afraid. Get up, now.” They looked around and everything was normal, just the four of them at the top of the mountain.
As they made their way down the mountain, Jesus told them they must not say a word about this experience until after He had risen from the dead. They couldn’t figure out what He meant about rising from the dead, but they did keep quiet about the amazing scene they had witnessed.
The scribes had been saying that Jesus couldn’t be the Messiah because Elijah hadn’t come yet to set things straight. The disciples asked Jesus what He thought about that. He answered by saying, “It’s true. Elijah does come first to set things in order for the Messiah. It also the Messiah will suffer rejection, but the scribes miss that point. I’m telling you that Elijah has come and they didn’t realize who he was, so they ignored him. And they’re about to mishandle Me before long.”
When Jesus explained it this way, the disciples realized that He was talking about John the Baptist fulfilling the Elijah role.