In one of the great Christian classics of the 19th century, The Training of the Twelve, Dr. A. B. Bruce says of the transfiguration of Christ that it is one portion of the Word of God which he would prefer to pass over in silence.176 As we know from the biblical text, Peter’s unconsidered commentary on this event was completely erroneous, for we are told that Peter did not realize what he was saying (Luke 9:33). Fortunately for Peter and for us, God gave him the privilege of sharing with us his more considered (and inspired) opinion in his second epistle (cf. 2 Peter 1:15-19). This mountaintop experience for the three disciples is also the high point of biblical revelation in the gospels. The transfiguration of our Lord is the culmination of the earthly life of Christ, but in addition, it is the prelude to the death of our Lord Jesus on the cross.177
In the 9th chapter of Luke’s gospel, we are informed of the estimation of the person of Jesus by every important party save one—that of the Pharisees and Jewish leaders. We have already been told of their estimation (John 11:47-53), and it is not worth repeating again. We shall learn of the estimation of the person of Jesus by the masses within Judaism (verses 18-19), by the disciples (verse 20), by our Lord (verses 21-27), and by the Father (verses 28-36). It is from this revelation that we shall learn how it is that we should esteem the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In recent times, there has been an interest in the crisis or turning points in one’s lifetime. In a way, that is what we are endeavoring to focus upon in this series in the Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ. We are currently directing our attention to the presentation of Jesus Christ to the nation Israel as her Messiah. His claims to be Messiah are based upon His miracles and His messages, His words and His works. We have now come to the miracle of the transfiguration, a great turning point for both our Lord and His disciples.
We can only properly understand the miracle of the transfiguration when we view it from a distance. It is obvious in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) that the transfiguration is directly related to the so-called ‘great confession’ of Peter.
Our Lord had taken the disciples apart in order that He might pray (verse 18), and it was on this occasion that He asked them a leading question, “Who do the multitudes say that I am?” (Luke 9:18).
It is interesting that He did not ask what the Jewish leaders thought of Him. That was all too evident! It was the popular estimate of Jesus which the disciples were to verbalize. This was what we might call the majority report.
The multitudes’ appraisal of Jesus can be summarized by several statements:
(1) The view of the masses was varied and inconclusive. Some, like Herod (Luke 9:7), supposed Jesus to be John the Baptist raised from the dead. Others perceived Jesus as manifesting the characteristics of one or another of the prophets,178 perhaps risen again (cf. Luke 9:7b-8).
(2) The masses held Jesus in esteem, viewing Him as more than an ordinary man. Compared to the view of the Jewish leadership (who considered Jesus to be a servant of Satan),179 the masses held a high view of Jesus. He was to most a prophet (cf. John 9:17).
(3) To the masses, Jesus was not the Messiah. Although the majority of Judaism esteemed Jesus as a person Who spoke authoritatively for God, they did not go far enough, for they did not regard Him as Messiah.180 Their silence on this issue is not without great significance.
Our Lord was not nearly so interested in hearing a commentary on His acceptance by the multitudes as He was of causing the disciples to face the issue of His identity and to disclose the implications of His identity for His ministry and theirs. And so He posed the question, “But you, who do you say that I am?” (Luke 9:20, my translation).181
Luke’s account of Peter’s reply combines that recorded by Mark and Matthew. Peter, as the typical spokesman for the others,182 answered with a two-fold acknowledgment. First of all, Jesus was the Messiah for whose coming pious Jews had anxiously waited. Jesus was the Christos, the anointed One. The New American Standard Version indicates in the margin of verse 20 that the term ‘Christ’ is synonymous with the title ‘Messiah.’ What the Jewish leaders refused to admit, and what the masses failed to recognize, was what Peter professed. “You are the Messiah.”
Second, Peter made an even more significant admission. Not only was Jesus the Messiah, but He was the Son of God, or in Peter’s words, “the Christ of God” (verse 20). Matthew’s account is even more pointed: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). The traditional view of the Messiah Who was to come was that He was merely a man, albeit one with extraordinary gifts. This view, of necessity, did not do justice to certain Old Testament passages which identified the coming Messiah as divine (e.g. Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; Micah 5:2). Peter had come to realize that One far greater than mortal man was with them (cf. Mark 4:41). Jesus was both Messiah and the Son of God. While the Pharisees and Sadducees rejected Jesus altogether, and the majority accepted Him as a great man, the disciples had come to see Him as both Messiah and God.
In this confession, we can detect both progress from previous levels of understanding and yet imperfection in coming to grips with all of the implications of the profession just made. While the disciples had previously acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah (cf. John 1:49), their grasp of what was meant by the title ‘Messiah’ had greatly expanded. Through His miracles and teaching, they had also concluded that Jesus was God manifested in the flesh. All of this understanding converged in Peter’s confession. But in spite of the advance in the thinking of the disciples, it is all too apparent that their conception of Jesus as Messiah and Son of God was far from complete.183 A full grasp (so far as is humanly possible) came only after the resurrection and ascension of our Lord.
The full report of our Lord’s response to Peter’s confession is not recorded by Luke, but only by Matthew:
“Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:17-19).
This passage in Matthew is outside of the limitations of our time and our text, but it is obviously important because of the doctrines which have been built upon its interpretation. Several comments on the additional details of Matthew’s account must suffice for the present time.
(1) Jesus endorsed Peter’s conclusions when He greatly praised his confession. By this, our Lord indicated that His concept of Himself was in agreement with Peter’s.
(2) It was not Peter’s person so much that was praised by our Lord as his faith, and his conclusions.184
(3) The ‘rock’ to which our Lord referred exegetically can refer either to Peter himself (as an apostle, cf. Ephesians 2:20) or to the ‘rock’ of his confession, that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God.
(4) Peter was called the foundation stone first, since he was the first to proclaim Jesus as such, but in reality, he is a foundation stone only in the same sense as all apostles.185
(5) It is significant that Mark, whose account rests upon the testimony of Peter, records our Lord’s stinging rebuke to Peter (Mark 8:33) while omitting the words of praise recorded by Matthew.
Peter’s confession, though praiseworthy, must be kept private for the time being (verse 21). Many have been perplexed at our Lord’s insistence on the silence of His identity as Messiah. When the demons addressed Jesus as the Son of God they, too, were silenced (cf. Mark 1:24-25). The reason for silence at this point was several-fold. First, as Jesus commanded Peter’s confession, He made it clear that his conclusions were not prompted by men, but by God (Matthew 16:17). Just as the disciples were convinced from within by taking heed to the words and works of the Savior, so should others. Secondly, He wished to avoid arousing ill-conceived hopes for a political messiah who would throw off the yoke of Rome. To outwardly proclaim Jesus as Israel’s Messiah would be to identify Jesus with their erroneous views of messiahship. They must renounce their misconceptions and adapt to our Lord’s program and person. Thirdly, mere words could not and would not suffice to convey the truths about His person and work.186
One can hardly fathom how devastating the next words of Jesus were to the disciples’ high hopes. How exhilarating our Lord’s commendation of Peter must have been to them. But this confession of faith was seemingly nullified by our Lord’s talk about death. “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day” (Luke 9:22).
In a way totally beyond the grasp of the disciples, Jesus was the glorious King of Israel, and yet He kept speaking of His death. There was a mixture of triumph and tragedy, sovereignty and suffering, incomprehensible to them.
The matter of suffering and glory was not only a paradox to be reckoned with so far as the Lord’s death was concerned, it was also the fundamental principle for true discipleship. In verses 23-26, Jesus laid down the principle for true discipleship. In verses 23-26, Jesus laid down the principle of discipleship that those who would truly be His disciples must also be willing to give up their life for His sake. As Matthew informs us, Peter recoiled at the thought of Jesus giving up His life (Matthew 16:22). How could He be Messiah if He were put to death? But as our Lord made clear, the paradox of Christian discipleship is that we can only save our soul by giving up our life (verses 23-26).
These were matters too deep for the disciples. Little wonder that we have no recorded account of what took place during those eight days between the great confession and the transfiguration. Knowing that His words were difficult to accept, our Lord did give one promise which somehow left room for hope: “But I tell you truly, there are some of those standing here who shall not taste death until they see the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:27).
Here, then, is the background of the transfiguration. The Jewish leadership had rejected Jesus and planned His death. The vast majority of Judaism regarded Him highly, but not highly enough. The disciples believed Him to be both Messiah and the Son of God, but only vaguely comprehending the implications of what they professed. The joy of Jesus’ praise of Peter’s confession was quickly nullified by His declaration that He was about to die, and that their responsibility, if they would be His disciples, was they must be willing to do likewise.
Now some six or eight days later,187 Jesus took Peter, James, and John apart to pray. The ‘high mountain’ (Matthew 17:1; cf. Luke 9:28), is thought by many scholars to be Mt. Hermon.188 Several factors seem to indicate the event took place at night.189 While our Lord prayed, the disciples slept. We should not be too hard on the three, first of all because we have often done likewise, and second, because the day had worn on and the climb had been physically taxing. I would imagine that the prayers of our Lord would have been largely for His disciples at this critical time. They were struggling with His identity as Messiah and His certainty of coming death. If I am correct in suggesting that our Lord’s prayers were largely for His disciples, then we must view the transfiguration as an answer to those prayers, and an event designed primarily for their benefit.
Several prominent features of this event are highlighted in Luke’s account:
(1) The outward glory of Jesus Christ was momentarily displayed. “And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming” (Luke 9:29).
When the second person of the Trinity took upon Himself human flesh, His glory was veiled, so that the prophet could rightly say, “He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him” (Isaiah 53:2b).
Throughout His earthly life, men challenged Jesus to manifest His splendor and majesty as Messiah, but it was the inward attributes of God, those of His character, that He wished most to reveal. On this one occasion, the veil of His humanity was momentarily lifted and His divine splendor and glory burst forth.
(2) Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus. No doubt, we are to understand the presence of these two men as symbolic of the Old Testament law and the prophets. Moses, of whom the Jewish leaders claimed to be disciples, (John 9:28), was here, not as the Son of God, but only as a servant.190 In Jesus, both the Law and the prophets found their fulfillment.
The topic of conversation was that of our Lord’s exodus or departure (verse 31). The choice of the term ‘exodus’ is no accident, for just as Moses had led the people into the promised blessings of God by passing through the Red Sea, so Jesus would lead the people of God into the promised blessings of God through His passing through the waters of death. Although there are similarities between these two men and Jesus,191 the contrasts are probably greater, for here was one vastly superior to them. While these were great men, they were men with feet of clay. Their redemption rested in the future work of Christ on the cross for them. What a comfort this conversation must have been to our Lord, for although the disciples could not grasp the truth and significance of His imminent death, these two men from out of the past did.
(3) We are also given a clear picture of the ineptitude of the disciples. While Jesus prayed fervently, they slept. We do not know how long the conversation between these three went on before the disciples finally realized what was taking place. Perhaps it was the brightness of the radiance of our Lord that finally awakened them, but whatever the precise details the text informs us that they were dazed and groggy, far from a complimentary picture of the three, but very realistic and life-like. Peter’s remark is simply verbal confirmation of the same truth. He was a firm believer in that slogan “Don’t just stand there, say something.” (That is why we all identify so well with him.) Perhaps wishing to preserve or prolong the glory of that moment, Peter proposed that three booths be built, one for Jesus, one for Moses, one for Elijah (verse 33). As Peter would now admit, it was a stupid remark, and one which inadvertently placed Jesus and the two visitors on the same level. We can all be grateful for the divine interruption which prevented Peter from saying anything even more inane.
(4) The divine testimony. In verses 18 and 19 the estimation of Jesus by the multitudes is recorded, in verse 20 that of the disciples. It is in verses 34 and 35 that we are given God the Father’s estimation of Jesus: “And while he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My Son, My Chosen One; Listen to Him!’”
The great confession verbalized by Peter and praised by our Lord was divinely authenticated by the heavenly voice from the cloud. Truly, Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel, for God had said so. While the heavenly voice at the baptism was intended for the benefit of John, to identify Jesus as the Savior, the voice here is for the primary benefit of the disciples.
In addition to the solemn identification of Jesus as the Son of God, there was the emphatic command to give heed to His teaching. While they may find His words difficult to fathom, they must give careful attention to what He said. Perhaps there was here a rebuke for Peter’s hasty and senseless words. The words of the Savior must not only be heard, but obeyed (as the word ‘hear’ often suggests in Scripture).
The transfiguration of Jesus is a crucial point in the life and ministry of Christ for it both sums up His previous ministry and anticipates His death. As G. Campbell Morgan aptly put it:
“The transfiguration of Jesus was the consummation of His human Life, the natural issue of all that had preceded it. … here, at last, that humanity, perfect in creation, perfect through probation, was perfected in glory. The life of Jesus was bound to reach this point of transfiguration. It could do no other.”192
It was also the prelude to His death, for from this point on He spoke plainly of His coming death. His face was now set toward Jerusalem. His glory was to come through suffering.
Primarily, the transfiguration was for the benefit of the three disciples. For them, it was a divine confirmation of Peter’s great confession. God attested what Peter affirmed. In addition, it was a confirmation of our Lord’s conception of His mission as Messiah. The popular expectation was that Messiah would come clothed in splendor and break the bonds of Rome. It was an almost exclusively materialistic concept of the kingdom. Jesus came first and foremost to redeem men from sin by dying on a cross. The literal and material aspects of the kingdom would come, but only after the necessary and preliminary spiritual preparations were complete.
Then, too, the transfiguration of Jesus was a divine commentary on the teaching of Jesus concerning His coming death, The disciples could not put together the seemingly contradictory threads of suffering and glory. The transfiguration visualized for the three that the glory which was to be our Lord’s (and thus, theirs and ours) was to come through suffering (His exodus.). They did not fully comprehend this truth, but they did understand, I believe, that both elements, suffering and glory, were essential to God’s purpose for Messiah.
This event must also have been a great consolation to the disciples. Their hopes of entering into the kingdom seemed to be dashed by Jesus’ disclosure of His coming death in Jerusalem at the hand of the Jewish leaders.
Jesus did not, as some students of Scripture affirm, teach that there would be no physical, literal Kingdom. Rather, He taught that this Kingdom was not to be established now. Lest they lose sight of the certainty of that Kingdom, the transfiguration gave a sort of ‘sneak preview’ of it. They tasted a sample of the glory to come. It was this hope, this certainty of the coming of the Kingdom, which helped to keep them going when things got rough.
Finally, the revelation of the majesty of our Lord humbled these men, instructing them to keep quiet and listen to the Master. Perhaps as the saying goes, ‘familiarity breeds contempt.’ Such seemed to be true for Peter. His prolonged contact with Jesus eroded his sense of awe and wonder. When the glory of the Master flashed before His eyes, there could be no more rudeness such as he displayed when our Lord told of His death. His obligation was to fall in adoration and wonder before his Lord and Master, and listen to His every word.
The impact of the transfiguration on the apostle Peter is summarized by his inspired interpretation in his second epistle:
“And I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you may be able to call these things to mind. For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased’—and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:13-19).
This incident has much by way of implication and application for us today. The first and foremost question of course must be, “What is your estimation of Jesus?” This is the question which divided men in the days of our Lord, and it is the question which divides men for all eternity. He is the Savior, the Messiah, the Son of God. He is the One Who died that you might live. Have you come to trust in Jesus, not just as a good man, not just as a prophet, but as the only begotten Son of God, the bearer of the sins of the world?
The story is told of Thomas Carlyle193 who, at the time of his imminent death, was read the words of Christian comfort from the first verses of the 14th chapter of John’s gospel: “Let not your heart be troubled. … in my Father’s house are many mansions.” “Aye,” broke out the bereaved man, “if you were God, you had a right to say that; but if you were only a man, what do you know anymore than the rest of us?” And so, you see, our estimate of Jesus makes all the difference in the world.
For those of us who have come to faith in Him, we must heed the words of the Father, “Listen to Him.” I am not so sure that we are giving much attention to the words of our Lord as we have them recorded in the Scriptures. Do we make the study of God’s word a primary part of our day? God said that we must.
There is also, by inference, a word for us about life and after life. We see in these two men, Moses and Elijah, that those who have trusted in the Savior are still alive, conscious, aware of what is now taking place. More than this, they were recognizable, though we know not how the disciples knew them to be Moses and Elijah. So, I would assume, we will be able to recognize our loved ones in glory.
I am reminded in the text of the importance of prayer. The great confession was preceded by prayer, as was the transfiguration. Prayer was a vital part of the life of our Lord, as it should be for us as well.
Finally, there is a great lesson for Christians in the matter of suffering. Suffering is an essential, inseparable part of the Christian faith. It is one of the basic prerequisites of discipleship. Suffering is the road to glory, not only for our Lord, but for us. It is suffering, then glory, so far as the Scriptures are concerned. The matter of suffering will never be explainable on a purely human level. It is only grasped from the divine perspective. So it was for the three on the mount of transfiguration. So it must be for us.
178 “These opinions are explained in part by an expectation then commonly entertained, that the advent of the Messiah would be preceded by the return of one of the prophets by whom God had spoken to the fathers, partly by the perception of real or supposed resemblances between Jesus and this or that prophet; His tenderness reminding one hearer of the author of the Lamentations, His sternness in denouncing hypocrisy and tyranny reminding another of the prophet of fire, while perhaps His parabolic discourses led a third to think of Ezekiel or of Daniel.” Bruce, Training of the Twelve, pp. 164-165.
179 “At a time when those who deemed themselves in every respect immeasurably superior to the multitude could find no better names for the Son of man than Samaritan, devil, blasphemer, glutton and drunkard, companion of publicans and sinners, it was something considerable to believe that the calumniated One was a prophet as worthy of honor as any of those whose sepulchres the professors of piety carefully varnished, while depreciating, and even putting to death, their living successors.” Ibid., p. 165.
180 “But however men differed on these points, in this all agreed, that they regarded Him not as an ordinary man or teacher, but His mission as straight from heaven; and, alas, in this also, that they did not view Him as the Messiah.” Alford Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, New American Edition, 1965), II, p. 79.
184 “Of this only we are sure, that not Peter’s person, but Peter’s faith, is the fundamental matter in Christ’s mind. When He says to that disciple, “Thou art Petros,” He means, “Thou art a man of rock, worthy of the name I gave thee by anticipation the first time I met thee, because thou hast at length got thy foot planted on the rock of the eternal truth.” Bruce, Training of the Twelve, pp. 168-169.
185 “He doubtless here plays on the name of Peter which denoted a smaller detachment—a stone broken out of the quarry for building purposes. The rock on which Christ would build was the massive ledge of the eternal truth of His divinity, incarnated in the personality of all believers, transforming them, as it had transformed Peter, into the rock-nature, suitable for the purposes of kingdom-building. To Peter was given the honor of being primus enter pares the first to have expressed the great confession. Jesus did not assert the supremacy and primacy of Peter, as Romanists contend. He expressed first to Peter, His purpose to found His church, because Peter had been the first to confess Him confidently as the Messiah and Son of God. Peter is to be one of the foundation stones along with the other apostles, and he has the honor of being the first mentioned. He is worthy of this first mention because he was the first to make the bold confession, just following the great defection, and in the face of the united hostilities of a far-reaching conspiracy. Peter was the kind of man Jesus could use in building His great spiritual temple of the universal church—a living stone.” J. W. Shepard, The Christ of the Gospels (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1939), p. 304.
186 “One day when Jesus was walking in Solomon’s porch in the Temple, a group of his fellow countrymen accosted him. ‘How long dost thou make us to doubt?’ they said. ‘If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly’ (John 10:24). But the greatest things in life cannot be ‘told’ in that way. Can you ‘tell plainly’ what honor is or beauty or love? Can you put a sunset into a sentence? Can you express the glory and mystery and magic of a great symphony in one terse phrase? None of life’s really great, moving experiences or discoveries can be told plainly in words. And how should we expect the greatest and most moving of all to be thus told—which is the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ? Jesus knew that it would not be by any voice proclaiming, ‘I am the Son of God,’ that conviction would be born in human hearts. But the wind bloweth where it listeth, and the men who live with him and love him learn his nature and his name.” James S. Stewart, The Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ (Nashville: Abingdon, Festival Edition, 1978), p. 134.
187 “Matthew and Mark make it a six-day interval (Mt. 17:1; Mk. 9:2). Luke has ‘about eight days’ (Lk. 9:28), which probably indicates that he is counting the days on which the two episodes occurred as well as the actual interval between them. This inclusive method of reckoning is not uncommon in the Scriptures.” Everett F. Harrison, A Short Life of Christ (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968), p. 150.
188 “The traditional site of the transfiguration according to the Greek church was Tabor, where they celebrate annually, on the sixth of August, the Feast of the Transfiguration, The Thaborium. But this is an impossible fancy, since Tabor is almost fifty miles from Caesarea-Philippi and Jesus was at this time avoiding Galilee. The summit of this mount was also occupied by a fort and was no fit place for such a scene. Furthermore, Mark states that Jesus did not “pass through Galilee”—in which Mount Tabor is situated—until later. The most probable site of this wonderful event was one of the lower spurs of snow-clad Hermon, visible from all parts of the land as far south as the Dead Sea. There could be no more suitable place in all Palestine than the accessible slopes of this famous mountain, cool and fresh with the evening breezes from the snow-clad heights above, where solitude reigned, and one of the grandest scenes of all nature and history lay visibly before them.” Shepard, The Christ of the Gospels, p. 314.
189 “Our sources do not say whether the transfiguration took place during the day or at night, but several factors favor the idea that it was a nocturnal scene. The sleep of the disciples points in this direction, as does Luke’s note that Jesus went to pray. We know from other notices in the Gospels that he usually withdrew for prayer in the night seasons. Then there is the consideration that the descent from the mountain came on the following day (Lk. 9:37).” Harrison, A Short Life of Christ, p. 154.
190 “Moses’ presence signified that in Jesus the shadows of the law were all fulfilled and now withdrawn. In Jerusalem men were still fighting, not merely for the law of Moses, but for the traditions of the elders, and priests and leaders were still arguing about the tithe of mint and cumin, while here upon the mount was the great law-giver himself, by his presence acknowledging that this glorified One, Who should presently be crucified in the name of the law, did in Himself gather up all that was hinted at, suggested, included in the economy of the past.” Morgan, The Crises of the Christ, pp. 238-239.
191 “… these two had much in common with Jesus of Nazareth. Moses performed signs and wonders before Israel in the name of the Lord, but to little avail. The people were stubborn in their unbelief and failed to enter the promised land because of it. Jesus had a similar reception for his mighty works. And as Moses interceded for Israel in the midst of failure and threatened judgment, being willing to be cut off himself if they could be spared, so Jesus wept in compassion over Jerusalem. Elijah was a lonely prophet, even when surrounded by the throngs on Mount Carmel. Jesus, too, was in many ways a lonely figure, despite his popular following. He prayed alone, suffered alone, and died alone. The two had something in common respecting the close of their ministries. Elijah was supernaturally taken up for a glorious reception into heaven, as though anticipating the ascension of the Savior into glory. As Elijah was able to bestow the power of his spirit on Elisha, so did the ascended Lord pour out his Spirit on his disciples.” Harrison, A Short Life of Christ, p. 156.