The Transfiguration

The transfiguration of Jesus is an episode in the New Testament narrative in which Jesus is transfigured and becomes radiant upon a mountain. The gospels (Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36) describe the event. In these accounts, Jesus and three of his apostles (Peter, James, and John) go to a mountain.. There, Jesus, while he is praying, begins to shine with bright rays of light. Then the prophets Moses and Elijah appear next to him, and he speaks with them. Jesus is then called “Son” by a voice in the sky. The Transfiguration is one of the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels. This miracle is unique among others that appear in the gospels, in that the miracle happens to Jesus himself.

Its reality is attested by the apostle Peter, as stated in 2 Peter 1:16-18:

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.   And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

The transfiguration appears to be almost a preview of Christ’s coming to earth to establish the kingdom. Thus the three had a glimpse before their deaths of the kingdom. This would have encouraged these three for the challenges that lay ahead of them. No doubt it even encouraged Jesus for his coming ordeal of trial and crucifixion, so that he had some encouragement and help to focus on the coming ultimate deliverance through his resurrection and beyond.

The phrase ‘in whom I am well pleased’ said of Jesus (Matthew 17:5) is a reflection of Isaiah 42:1, confirming that Isaiah also, is speaking of Jesus. (Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles).

We are told that those who were about the witness the transfiguration of Jesus would not taste of death, until they had seen the kingdom of God come with power.  We now, are able to read of this experience, so to that extent we have shared it.  We too have insight, provided by God through His word and His willingness to allow us to find His truth, to this very vision that these three chosen special disciples witnessed.

Moses and Elijah spoke with Jesus about his exodus. Luke 9:31 – “(Moses and Elijah) appeared in glory, and spake of his (Jesus’) decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.” The Greek word translated “decease” is exodus. This is suitably appropriate,  because as Moses had led Israel out of Egypt, an exodus, Elijah is going to lead an exodus of Israel from the nations back to the land of Israel when they see Jesus as their Messiah.

The transfiguration was a major event in the life of the disciples. It provided them with a glimpse of future glory in the kingdom of God on earth. We too are able to obtain a similar glimpse.

Illustration by Good News Productions International and College Press Publishing ( CC-4.0.

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