Even with the Narrative Lectionary, we will still need to provide some context to appreciate today’s passage that begins with the Transfiguration.
If possible, you might consider expanding the reading to include 9:18-51, since this section is interwoven in a number of ways. (I’ve bolded the words/topics that provide the links.)
What this careful interweaving of texts accomplishes is a much more nuanced picture of Jesus.
Throughout this whole section, we also see people and Jesus’ own disciples struggling to figure out who he is. There are the misguided speculations followed by Peter’s correct pronouncement and a stern warning from Jesus not to tell anyone. In the Transfiguration scene, however, Peter doesn’t know what he is talking about when he proposes the three dwellings, and the three disciples say nothing about it “in those days.” The father who brings his son to Jesus has the right idea of Jesus’ capability, but Jesus responds with a rebuke to that “faithless and perverse generation.” When Jesus talks about his betrayal in verse 44, the disciples fail to understand and are afraid to ask him about it. They further mess up in their sense of greatness and in who is an acceptable follower.
Note, however, that what Luke is portraying here is not the same as the Gospel of Mark with its so-called “Messianic Secret” and the ‘duh-sciples.’ Mark perhaps allows for more ambiguity. The father of the boy is able to make his memorable plea in Mark 9:24 – “I believe; help my unbelief!” — a statement that is absent in Luke. If Mark tells his gospel to invite the reader into the story and either sympathize or reject or strive to do better than its characters, Luke is more straightforward. He is indeed recounting history, providing explanations for why Jesus’ disciples did not fully understand him during his ministry, and laying a foundation for his readers to perceive and believe.
The passage in Luke makes for a rather straightforward sermon. Hearers are not asked to explore the complexities of faith nor wonder about the true nature of Jesus. Anyone with any sense should be able to figure it out and believe that Jesus is the Messiah, God’s Son. “Listen to him!” Don’t think, however, that Luke’s clarity means it is all so simple. What Luke also makes very clear is that in the midst of a “faithless and perverse generation,” following Jesus is an “exodus” to life, but it goes through the way of suffering and death.