Reading the Word
Matthew 17:1–8 (ESV)
1 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 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.” 5 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.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
Parallel Texts: Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36
Understanding and Applying the Word
We read here that Jesus went into a high mountain and took three of his disciples with him. Peter, James, and John seemed to make up an inner circle within the twelve who Jesus took along at times when the entire group was not present. In this passage, we read that Jesus was transfigured as the three looked on. Moses and Elijah appeared alongside Jesus and a voice from heaven called out, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
Peter, not really knowing how to respond to this event, asked if he should make tents (or booths) for Jesus, Elijah, and Moses. When the three disciples heard the voice from heaven, they fell to the ground terrified. Jesus then assured them that they had no reason to fear, so they got up and they were alone again with Jesus.
This event is commonly referred to as the Transfiguration. The word “transfigure” is translated from the Greek word metamorphoo, which is the word we get metamorphosis from. Jesus was changed before their eyes. The disciples caught a glimpse of the glory of Jesus as his face “shone like the sun” and his clothes “became white as light.” Moses and Elijah’s appearance represented the law and the prophets of the Old Testament and pointed to Jesus’ fulfillment of the Scriptures. Through this the disciples received confirmation that Jesus was indeed the Messiah in fulfillment of the Scriptures and that they should trust him and obey him.
All of the Bible points us to Jesus Christ. The Old Testament points to his future coming, while the New Testament tells us of his advent and also points us ahead to his eventual return. All that we find recorded in Scripture is to assure us that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that we can trust in him for salvation and eternal life. God tells us through his written word, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him!”
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