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What Has Come Before:
From Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus led his disciples still further north to Caesarea Philippi, at the foot of the great Mount Hermon. The name of this place means "Philip’s Caesarea;" and it was so called because it was under the rule of King Herod Philip, a brother of King Herod Antipas, who ruled in Galilee; and there was another Caesarea on the shore of the Great Sea, south of Mount Carmel. At Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked his disciples this question, "Who do men say that I, the Son of man, am?" The Son of man was the name by which Jesus often spoke of himself.
They answered him, "Some men say that you are John the Baptist risen from the dead and some say that you are the prophet Elijah, or the prophet Jeremiah, come again to earth."
Then said Jesus, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered for them all, saying, "Thou art the Anointed One, the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to Peter, "Simon, this has come to you not from men, but from my Father who is in heaven. You are Peter, the Rock; and on this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of earth shall not overcome it."
For the church of Christ is made of those who believe what Peter said, that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world, and who obey Jesus as their Lord and King.
After this Jesus began to tell his disciples what things were to come upon him before many months. He said, "We are going up to Jerusalem; and there the people will refuse to own the Son of man, and he shall suffer many wrongs from the rulers, and chief priests; and shall be killed, and on the third day he shall be raised to life."
But the disciples could not believe that such sad things would come to pass with Jesus. They thought that he would reign as a king, and that high places in his kingdom would be given to themselves. Peter took Jesus aside from the rest, and said to him, "Master, do not speak of such things. You will not suffer and die. You shall be a king!"
But Jesus saw that under Peter’s words was the evil one, tempting him, and he said to Peter,
"Go from me, Satan, evil one! You would be a stumbling block to me, to make me fall. You are seeking not that which is of God, but that which is of men." For Jesus knew that while all men wished him to be a king, ruling over a kingdom on the earth, it was God’s will for him to die upon the cross to save the world from sin.
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The Transfiguration, Raphael 1517
|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. 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?"|
Matthew 16:13-17:23, Mark 8:27-9:32,
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THE GLORY OF JESUS ON THE MOUNTAIN
Jesus called the people to come near with his disciples, and he said to them all, "If any man will come after me, let him give up his own will, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever has a will to save his life here, shall lose it hereafter. And whoever is willing to give up his life for my sake, shall find it again in the life everlasting. What gain will it be to a man to have the whole world, and to lose his own soul? For the Son of man will come in his glory, with all the holy angels, and then he will give to every man according to his acts. And if any man is ashamed to own the Lord now, the Lord will not own him in that day!"
Transfiguration of Christ
Giovanni Bellini, 1455
Transfiguration of Christ
Giovanni Bellini, 1487
One night Jesus called three of his disciples, Peter, James, and John, and with them climbed up the side of Mount Hermon. At a high place on the mountain, the three disciples lay down to sleep, but Jesus sought his Father in prayer. While Jesus was praying, a great change came over him. His face began to shine as bright as the sun, and his garments became whiter than snow. The three disciples awoke, and saw their Lord with all this glory beaming from him.
And they saw two men talking with Jesus. These were Moses and Elijah, who had come down from heaven to meet Jesus; and they spoke with him of the death that he was to die in Jerusalem. As these men were passing from the sight of the disciples, Peter spoke, scarcely knowing what he was saying, "Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us make here three tabernacles, one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
While Peter was speaking a bright and glorious cloud came over them all; and the three disciples felt a great fear as they found themselves in the cloud, and no longer able to see their Master. Out of the cloud came the voice of God, saying these words:
"This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear him!"
As the disciples heard this voice they fell upon their faces on the ground in great fear. And Jesus came and touched them saying, "Rise up, and do not be afraid." Then they looked up, and lo, the bright cloud had passed away, the two men were no more in sight, and Jesus was standing alone. They walked together down the mountain, and Jesus said to them very earnestly, "Do not tell to any man what you have seen, until the Son of man is risen from the dead." They wondered what this "rising from the dead" could mean; for even yet they could not believe that Jesus would die. But they said nothing to any one, not even to the other disciples, of what they had seen upon the mountain.
When Jesus and the three disciples came down the mountain, they found many people around the other nine disciples. As the people saw Jesus they were filled with wonder, for some of the glory still remained upon his face; and they bowed before him. One man came to Jesus, and said, Master, look upon my son, my only child, and have mercy upon him; for he is terribly troubled by an evil spirit. At times he cannot speak, and then he will cry out suddenly. The spirit almost tears him in pieces, and makes him fall into the fire and into the water. He foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth, and pines away. And I spoke to your disciples, but they could not cast out the evil spirit.
And Jesus said, "O ye people without faith, and wandering from God, how long must I be with you? How long must I bear with you? Bring your child to me."
While they were bringing the boy to Jesus, the evil spirit in him threw him down and seemed to tear him apart; and he lay suffering and rolling on the ground. Jesus said to the boy’s father "How long is it since this came to him?" The father said, Ever since he was a little child; but if you can do anything, have mercy on us and help us!
"If I can?" said Jesus. "Do you not know that all things are possible to the one that believes in me?" At once the father of the child cried out, Lord, I believe! Help my lack of faith! Then Jesus spoke to the evil spirit in the boy, "Dumb and deaf spirit, come out of this child, and never again enter into him!"
Then the spirit gave a cry, and came out, and left the child as one dead on the ground. Indeed, many who looked at him said, "He is dead!" But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up; and the boy stood up well, set free from the evil spirit, and Jesus gave him to his father. And all who saw it wondered at the mighty power of the Lord.
When Jesus was in the house, his disciples asked him, Why could not we cast out the evil spirit? And Jesus said to them, "Because you were wanting in faith. But this kind of evil spirits can be sent out only through prayer and fasting."
While all were wondering at the great things which Jesus did, he said again to his disciples, "Let what I say to you sink down into your hearts. The time is coming when the Son of man shall be given into the hands of men; and they shall kill him; and after he is killed, on the third day he shall rise again." But they could not understand what he meant by these words, and they were afraid to ask him.
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