Orthodox Daily Devotional November 25 – December 1
Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary ;and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All,which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance;
**Theophylact commentary continued…
And Jesus went out, and His disciples, into the villages of Caesarea Philippi: and on the way He asked His disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? And they answered, John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah, and others, one of the prophets. And He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto Him, Thou art the Christ, And He charged them that they should tell no man concerning Him. First He leads the disciples away from the Jews, and then He asks them about Himself, so that without fear of anyone they might confess the truth. They reply, “Some consider Thee to be John, and others, Elijah.” For many thought that He was John risen from the dead; and Herod himself, mindful that John while alive had not worked any miracle, thought that it was John who, by being raised from the dead, had also received the power to work miracles. After asking the disciples about the opinions others had of Him, the Lord asks them for their own opinion. He is all but saying, ‘ ‘Others, in error, think this about Me; but from you let Me hear the truth.” How does Peter answer? He confesses that Jesus is the One foretold by the prophets, the Christ. What the Lord said in response to Peter’s confession, and how He blessed Peter, Mark omits, lest by telling these things he appear to favor Peter, as Mark was Peter’s disciple. But Matthew recounts all these things in detail.7 The Lord charged them not to speak to anyone concerning Who He was. For He wanted to keep this knowledge hidden, lest the multitude find this to be a stumbling block and on this account not believe, and thus become liable to even greater punishment.
And He began to teach them, that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders, and by the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And He spake that saying openly. And Peter took Hint and began to rebuke him. But when He had turned about and looked on His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind Me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. When He saw that they had confessed Him to be the tme Messiah, then He also began to reveal to them the mystery of the cross, although not in its entirety. For they did not yet understand what He was saying. They did not yet understand what it meant to “rise again”, and they thought that it was better not to suffer at all. This is why Peter began to reproach Him for flinging Himself, as it seemed, towards His own death, although it was within His power not to suffer anything. But the Lord shows that His passion will be for our salvation, and that it is Satan alone who does not want Christ to suffer and thus save mankind. The Lord calls Peter “Satan” because Peter had Satan’s thoughts, not wanting Him to suffer, and opposing Him; for ‘Satan’ means ‘the adversary’. The Lord says, “Get thee behind Me,” that is, follow My will and do not oppose it. Do not come against Me, but follow behind Me. The Lord rebuked Peter for thinking in human terms. Thinking in a coarse, carnal fashion, Peter wanted the Lord to take His ease, and not to suffer temptations and not to be crucified for the sake of the salvation of the world.
Mark 8: 34-37. And when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also, He said unto them, Whosoever desireth to follow after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever desireth to save his life, shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the Gospels, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange, for his soul? Since Peter had rebuked Him for wanting to be crucified, Lord called the people unto Him, and said, in the hearing of all, but directing His words mostly towards Peter, “Do you find fault with Me, Peter, because I take up the cross? I say to you, that neither you, nor anyone else, will be saved unless you die for the sake of goodness and truth.” See that Christ does not compel a man to die on a cross against his own will. Instead He said, “Whosoever desireth.” For the Lord is saying: I compel no one. I invite him to something good, not to something bad to which I must compel him. Whoever does not want these things is not worthy of them. We can learn what it means to deny oneself if we understand what it means to deny another. He who denies another is he who, when he sees another, such as his brother, or servant, or father, being flogged or even murdered, does not turn towards him and pity him in his suffering, but acts as if he were completely estranged from him. In this same manner the Lord wants us to show no pity towards our own bodies, so that even if we are flogged, or worse, let it make no difference to us. Let him take up his cross, that is, accept a most shameful death, for at that time to die on a cross was considered the most shameful of deaths. But since many were crucified for being bandits, the Lord added to the crucifixion something else: that one ought to have virtue. For this is what it means to “follow Me”. Although His command that one give oneself over to death seemed hard and cruel, the Lord straightway shows this commandment is given out of love for mankind. For ‘ ‘whosoever shall lose his life for My sake’ ’ shall find life. (But the death of a condemned man, or of one who hangs himself, is not for Christ’s sake and brings no such reward.) And, on the contrary, he who appears to have saved his life, far from finding life, shall lose it by not remaining steadfast during his time of martyrdom. Do not say to Me, “But he has saved his life”—it means nothing; and even if you say that he has gained the whole world as well, it is of no benefit. For no one can exchange money for his salvation, for if that were so, a man who had gained the world but lost his soul, could, while burning in the flames of hell, use his money to buy innocence. But at that time and in that place no such trade can be made. And here let us shut the mouths of those who, following Origen, say that all the souls in hell will be restored [and reunited with those in heaven] after they have been punished in accordance with their sins.9 Let them hear that there is no exchange that can be made there for one’s soul. No one is kept in hell as a punishment. Rather, it is the weight of his own sins which holds him there.
38-9:1. Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. And He said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. Intellectual faith does not suffice, but confession of faith with one’s mouth is required as well. Since man himself is two-fold, let his sanctification be two-fold as well. For the soul is sanctified by faith, but the body is sanctified by confessing. Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed to confess that the Crucified One is his God, of him also shall the Crucified One be ashamed. For the Lord shall judge that man to be an unworthy servant, when He comes with glory, escorted by the angels, no longer in lowly form. At the second coming He will not appear, as He did before, to be of base origin and circumstance, an object of scorn. Since He speaks of His own glory, wishing to show that He is not vainly boasting, He says, “There be some of them that stand here,” namely, Peter, James, and John, who shall not die until I have shown them at the Transfiguration the glory with which I shall appear at the second coming. For the Transfiguration was nothing else than a foreshadowing of the second coming, and as He appeared shining then, so will He shine at the second coming, as will also all the righteous.
And after six days Jesus taketh with Him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up onto a high mountain apart by themselves: and He was transfigured before them. And His raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. The Lord, then, takes the three foremost of the apostles and leads them up onto a high mountain: Peter, because he had confessed Christ, and loved Him; John, because he was especially beloved by the Lord; and James, because he likewise was a great voiced confessor, full of theology. Because of this, he became such a source of grief to the Jews that when Herod wished to please the Jews, he slew James.3 He leads them up onto a high mountain so that the miracle might be all the more glorious. And He led them “apart by themselves” because He was about to show them a mystery. “Transfiguration” does not mean that His form and features changed, but rather, that there took place the addition of ineffable light to His unchanged form.
Mark 9:4-8. And there appeared unto them Elijah with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Ely ah. For he knew not what to say; for they were sore afraid. And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is My beloved Son: hear Him. And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves. There are many reasons why Elijah and Moses were seen talking with Jesus, but it is enough to mention only two. Since the disciples had said that some of the multitude thought that Jesus was Elijah, while others thought that He was one of the prophets, Jesus shows them Elijah and Moses, the foremost of the prophets, so that they might learn from this how much greater is the Master than His servants. This is the first reason. The second is this: since many were thinking that Jesus, in seeming to set aside the sabbath and transgress die law, was opposed to God, the Lord on the mountain appears with the prophets, one of whom was the Lawgiver, and the other the Zealot, Such prophets as these would not have conversed with one who seemed to abolish the law, if what He said did not please them. Then Peter, who was afraid to descend from the mountain (fearing the Lord’s crucifixion), said, “It is good for us to be here and not to go down from here into the midst of the Jews. And even if those who are raging against Thee should come here, we have Moses who defeated the Egyptians, and we have Elijah who called down fire from heaven and destroyed the captains of fifty.” What were the prophets discussing with the Lord? His death on the cross. Peter spoke as he did, not knowing what to say; “for they were sore afraid” from the radiance of the light and the ineffable glory. Truly Peter was not thinking rightly: he did not want Jesus to go down to be crucified for our salvation, but to remain forever on the mountain. We ought also to understand these words in a spiritual manner. After the end of this world, which was created in six days, if we are truly His disciples, Jesus will lead us also up to a high mountain, by which I mean heaven, and He will show Himself to us in greater splendor. For on earth He appeared without glory, as the Crucified and the son of a carpenter, but then we will see His glory as the Only-begotten. And we will see both the law and the prophets speaking with Him; that is, then we will understand all that Moses and the prophets spoke concerning Him, and we will find that their prophecies are in complete agreement with the events which took place. And then we will truly hear the Father’s voice when the Father reveals to us the Son, teaching us, “This is My Son.” How will He teach us? With the overshadowing cloud, that is, with the Holy Spirit Which is the source of all wisdom.