Matthew 17:2-3 – WHAT IS THE TRANSFIGURATION OF JESUS ABOUT?

Posted: August 13, 2014 in Matthew, Matthew 17
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Matthew 17:2-3 – WHAT IS THE TRANSFIGURATION OF JESUS ABOUT?

Supermoon. Photo image by Ross Cochrane.

Supermoon. Photo image by Ross Cochrane.

Matthew 17:2-3 – WHAT IS THE TRANSFIGURATION OF JESUS ABOUT? 

I struggle to get a number of photographs. Clouds are in the way but the light of the moon is spectacular at this time. A supermoon looks so much bigger and brighter because the moon’s elliptical path brings it closest to Earth. Of course the moon has no light of its own but reflects the light of the sun. It gets me thinking about that mountain miracle where Jesus is transformed into a searchlight of the soul and shines like the sun. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus and the disciples and they are all bathed in a magnificent array of the visible spectrum, as earth echoes the colours of heaven’s grace. 

The scene is reminiscent of “when Moses came down Mount Sinai carrying the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant. He wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he had spoken to the Lord” (Exodus 34:29 NLT). It’s a little disconcerting when the acting prophet, priest and king is glowing like a lightbulb; the people were so afraid he had to cover his face with a veil. 

Now, over 1000 years later Moses once again stands in the presence of the Lord on a mountain. Why is it that Moses suddenly appears? Deuteronomy 34:5-6 (NLT) says Moses is dead and gone! “…Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, just as the Lord had said. The Lord buried him in a valley near Beth-peor in Moab, but to this day no one knows the exact place.” 

What is going on here? Is he here in spirit form? An animated hologram? A collective dream of the disciples? Does he have a resurrection body designed just for this occasion and if so where does he go after this conversation with Jesus? How did they know it was Moses? Nametag? Was he introduced. Were the disciples cowering in the cleft of some rock like the historical paintings of this scene or did they get to shake hands and say hello to Moses and Elijah? I have so many questions that the book of Matthew leaves unanswered, or is it that God didn’t think that these questions were the main focus? 

I’ve got a feeling the disciples were meant to be in on this conversation with Jesus, Moses and Elijah, not simply witnesses of this miraculous event. They were there as part of the miracle as so often we are meant to be participants in the miracles God works in our lives. 

In whatever form Moses appears, I can’t help thinking there is unfinished business with which Christ is dealing. Jesus is trying to tie up loose ends before He dies. Over a 1000 years ago, before Moses died God spoke to him “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have now allowed you to see it with your own eyes, but you will not enter the land.” (Deuteronomy 34:4 NLT) Was Jesus bringing him in now? Is this meant to be a happy ending for Moses? A postponed blessing, a thousand years hence? 

Elijah also appears. Matthew says “Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appear and begin talking with Jesus (Matthew 17:3 NLT). Luke 9:30-31 (NLT) adds “…They are glorious to see. And they are speaking about His exodus from this world, which is about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem.”  

In 2 Kings 2:11 (NLT) Elijah makes a dramatic exodus from the earth. “…Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven.” It is said that he never experienced death. If so, by the time of the transfiguration Elijah is over 900 years old. Is this meant to be a happy ending for Elijah too? A postponed blessing? Does he finally get to die after this or is he going to turn up again sometime? 

Jesus was gathering up the past with Moses and Elijah, the law and the prophets, before embracing the future with the Cross. Did the law giving and the prophecies about Israel finally all make sense to Moses and Elijah? Did they finally have closure to the story? Moses, who wrote of creation and led God’s people from Egypt in the Exodus, now hears about the salvation Christ would bring to the world through His exodus. Moses who held the law of God meets the Word of God Himself. Elijah the prophet stands in the presence of Him who fulfils all prophecy. 

Peter had already acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah (Matthew 16:16). The disciples of the New Covenant now see Jesus who ushers in the new covenant in glorious light and He discusses His plans for the future with them all. 1 Peter 1:10-11 (NLT) says “This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when He told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and His great glory afterward.”  

Jesus face shines. This face that shines will soon become bloodied and beaten and eventually plunged into darkness. This sacred head of light will bear a crown of thorns. He will be spit upon and His white garments that ripple with light will soon be stripped off and divided among soldiers who gamble for them. The Word of God that is spoken on this mountain will soon end with the words He cries out on the Cross on Calvary’s mountain, “It is finished!” (John 19:30 NLT). 

The Mount of Transfiguration is the place where the past, present and future are sealed with the presence of God; a beacon on a hill announcing salvation to the world; a lighthouse of testimony and an invitation to us and all generations to place our faith in Christ. 

Pastor Ross

Supermoon. Image by Ross Cochrane using Depthy for 3D

Supermoon. Image by Ross Cochrane using Depthy for 3D

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Comments
  1. […] Matthew 17:2-3 – WHAT IS THE TRANSFIGURATION OF JESUS ABOUT? (pastorross1.wordpress.com) […]

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  2. kingdom777 says:

    Great post. Here’s some background stuff you might like:
    I believe the Transfiguration happened on Mount Hermon. The reason I think so is because in the previous chapter of the Bible, Matthew 16, Jesus was at Caesarea Philippi, a town at the foot of Mount Hermon.
    Caesarea Philippi was a city dominated by immoral activities and pagan worship. There was a huge rock there, at the southwestern base of Mount Hermon, with a grotto dedicated to the Greek god Pan. (Pan has horns and hairy legs like a goat). The locals called it “the Gates of Hell.”
    Caesarea Philippi was the place where Jesus declared that on this rock he would build his church, and the “Gates of Hell” would not overcome it.
    In the apocryphal Book of Enoch, Mount Hermon is the place where the Watcher class of fallen angels descended to Earth. They swore upon the mountain that they would take wives among the daughters of men (Enoch 6).
    It’s interesting that the “Hermon Hotel”, the highest permanently manned UN position in the world, sits on top of Mount Hermon in the buffer zone between Syria and Israel.
    So Jesus was in the area stamping His authority all over Satan!

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