The Transfiguration

This refers to the mysterious change that occurred to Jesus on the mount: “Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his c … More

Transfiguration

At the close of Jesus’ sermon on “cross-bearing” in the previous chapter He promised that some of the disciples would “see the son of man coming in His kingdom” (Matt. 16:28). He chose Peter, James and John as witnesses to this event. This text does not say for sure where the miracle took place but it was probably on Mount Hermon, which is close to Caesarea Philippi (v. 1).

Jesus’ transfiguration indicates an actual change of form, not a mere change of appearance. It states that His face was as brilliant as the sun and His clothes were as clear as the whiteness of pure light (v.2). Then Moses and Elijah appeared (vv. 3-4). Moses represented the Law and Elijah the prophets. Why were Moses and Elijah, of all Old Testament characters present on this occasion? Perhaps it was to show that all of the Law and prophets point to Christ and are fulfilled in Him (Heb. 1:1). At both the baptism and transfiguration of Jesus, God the Father publicly declared His great pleasure in His only Son. Jesus speaks for the Father, and we are to obey Him as we obey the Father.

Again we find Peter trying to tell Jesus what to do. He suggested that they build three shelters for Jesus, Moses and Elijah so they could stay there and enjoy glory (v. 4)! While Peter was still speaking God the Father interrupted by speaking from a bright cloud (v. 5). He said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him”. With all this the disciples became terrified and fell down on their faces (v. 6). At this point Jesus came over and touched them and told them not to be afraid and to get up (vv. 7-8). He had already resumed His normal appearance and Moses and Elijah were gone. As they descended the mountain Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone what they had seen (v. 9). Jesus tells his disciples why Elijah must come before the Messiah (vv. 10-11). He explains how the Son of Man will also suffer (vv. 12-13). 

Application

What has been a mountaintop experience in my life? Has it changed the course of my life in any way?

Matthew 17:1-13 (English Standard Version)

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah." He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Rise, and have no fear." And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, "Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead." And the disciples asked him, "Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?" He answered, "Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

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