Matthew 17, pt. 1: The Transfiguration

How much do you know about Jesus’s transfiguration? What do you think really happened to Jesus up on that high mountain? Read verses 1-13 and try to picture what Jesus’s face and clothes really must have looked like in those moments.

When Jesus takes Peter, James and John up to the mountain, he is transfigured before them. The word “transfiguration” means to change or transform appearance. This is what happened to Jesus. God changed how Jesus appeared to Peter, James and John so that He could show His pleasure and approval of His Son, who was carrying out the divine will of God. Whether this means that Jesus’s true spiritual body was what shone through or God simply made Jesus appear brighter to glorify Him is unclear. The message is that God showed favor and approval of His Son through this transfiguration and Peter, James and John were made witness to this amazing occurrence.

Moses and Elijah also appeared, talking with Jesus, although we do not know what was said. Their presence is significant though in that these men, like Christ, were strong and encouraging instruments of God in their own time, carrying forth God’s will. Jesus being in the company of these heroes of righteousness and faith further solidifies His place as a fulfillment of prophecy and the most significant component of God’s plan to redeem lost sinners.

Peter characteristically is eager to act and suggests building three tabernacles to Moses, Elijah and Christ. But God interrupts Peter’s ignorant yet well-intentioned suggestion by throwing all of the attention on Jesus. “While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” Jesus is the reason for this moment and God the Father wants it known. How awesome!

Peter, James and John all fall on their faces at the sound of God until Jesus asks them to rise and not be afraid. When they get up, only Jesus is there, and He appears normal again. He instructs them not to tell anyone about what happened until He rises from the dead.The disciples’ question and Jesus’s response in verses 10-13 are an indication of both the disciples’ and the scribes’ lack of knowledge. The difference in these two groups is that the disciples discern the right source to get the facts. Their trust, loyalty and belief in Christ solidifies as time goes on.

Peter, James and John show great faith and amazement at the transfiguration, yet they still have so little comprehension of what it will all ultimately mean. Jesus is to die and rise again, to save all mankind. It is profound and amazing to ponder that fact even today, so it is easy to understand how the apostles understood so little despite being in the midst of everything. How blessed we are today, that God has given us His Holy Word, so that we may know these wondrous and saving truths. And that we may know that we have the hope of an eternal life in heaven, where we will be in the presence of God for all eternity.

The transfiguration is the second place in time I would go if I had access to a time machine. The first is the cross.

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