Though I have covered this topic before, I have not devoted a full entry to it, and felt that it was time to examine The Transfiguration of Jesus. What is a transfiguration? The dictionary describes it as "the supernatural and glorified change in appearance of Jesus on the mountain." They hit the nail on the head. A "transfiguration" is a change in shape or appearance. (Picture Credit to: Raphael, ©1520)
Frankly, I love hearing this account. Probably because of people involved - Jesus, Moses, Elijah, Peter, James, and John. Now, where does this event take place? None of the gospels specifically mention which mountain, but since the 3rd Century Christians pointed out Mount Tabor, that is the traditional site, although some, such as RT Frances, have noted that Mount Hermon is the closest to Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus was in the previous chapter of Matthew.
So what's the general idea? Jesus, Peter, James, and John go up in a mountain. They see Moses, who's been dead for about 1,400 years, (Deuteronomy 34:5) and Elijah, who was taken to Heaven a few hundred years before. (2nd Kings 2:11) They come and talk with Jesus about his upcoming death, and God comes down in a cloud saying, "This is my Son."
In other words, he just threw off all speculations about who Jesus was. When God Almighty speaks, it is good to listen. So let's take a look at these Biblical accounts, see what they tell us about this spectacular event. Thomas Aquinas, an Italian priest, had considered The Transfiguration to be the "Greatest Miracle," in that it happened to Christ himself.
Let's take a look at Matthew 17:1-9. Verses 2-5 say, "There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, 'Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters - one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.' While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!'"
Verses 6-7 go on to say, "When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them.'Get up.' he said. 'Don't be afraid.' When they looked up, they saw no one but Jesus." Jesus proceeded to instruct the three disciples not to mention this to anyone "until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead." So they listened, but did not understand until later.
Mark gives his account, which was told to him by Peter, in Mark 9:2-8. The account is mostly the same, though verse three gives another vivid description: "His clothes became a dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them." Luke also speaks of The Transfiguration.
Luke 9:28-36 gives the same account, though with certain details. "As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him."
John may also have alluded to The Transfiguration, though it may be a general idea of Christ. John 1:14, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." That may be an obscure reference, but it is true that John saw the glory of Jesus - he was a witness of the Transfiguration.
Though he conveyed it to John Mark, who wrote Mark, Peter later wrote about the event. 2nd Peter 1:16-18 says, "For we did nor follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in Power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.' We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain."
So, hearing these accounts, we can gather that it must have been extraordinary to witness. It has been speculated that the senses of the disciples were also transfigured (changed) to see his glory. While it does not change the event, it is interesting.
It is also interesting to note that Jesus is put above Elijah and Moses, two major figures in Judaism. Moses represents the Law, while Elijah represents the Prophets - Jesus was the one who fulfilled what was written about him in "...the Law of Moses, [and] the Prophets..." (Luke 24:44)
Regardless of what deeper meaning this event has, if you take anything away from it, may it be this: God himself proclaims Jesus as his Son. The Transfiguration is the event that shows the glory of Jesus, that shows him in his glorified body. This special event shared with the inner ring of the three disciples was a confirmation to them that Jesus was indeed, the Messiah that was prophesied to come.
Peter, James and John were witnesses to this spectacular event - and it is so often overlooked. It need not be. Jesus was also proclaimed as the Son of God in Psalm 2:7, Proverbs 30:4, Luke 1:32, and Matthew 3:17, the first two instances from prophets, the next from the angel Gabriel, and in Matthew by God himself at the Baptism of Jesus, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
While the miracles of walking on water, disappearing from a crowd, raising the dead, healing, multiplying food, changing weather, and many others happen to others, The Transfiguration miracle happens to Jesus - and it proves without a doubt that he truly is the Son of God. If you have never put your trust in God, I would urge you to do so - he warns us that the time is near for the end.
How do you put your trust in God? Accept that we have all sinned, all broken his commandments, that we cannot pay the penalty ourselves, but that Jesus paid our fine for us, so that the Judge's [God] sentence would only be carried out if those in the courtroom [humanity] chose not to follow him. "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me." (Revelation 3:20)
Will you open the door for the only one who can save us? He's asking us to open our hearts and let him in - change occurs when you accept Jesus - but not always an immediate change, so do not always expect an overwhelming emotion. Confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and if you believe in your heart that he is risen from the dead, and ask forgiveness for your sins (we sin daily, so it is good to ask for forgiveness daily), you will be saved.
I thank you for taking the time to read this entry of "The Truth." Feedback is always appreciated, you can contact me at email@example.com or drop by the facebook page for more information and pictures. Take Care, and May God Bless. Troy Hillman