The miracle on the Mount of Transfiguration is a unique event in the Jesus Story.
It is a great mystery that tantalizes the student of the Bible with possible explanations. One thing is certain; this event proves that God is the God of the living and not the dead. Moses and Elijah join Jesus for a conversation—not their ghosts—but the men themselves! What sort of bodies did they have? Was this a foretaste of the resurrection to come? No one can say for sure. Here is the story.
Up into a High Mountain
Six days after the storm at sea, Jesus took His inner circle, Peter, James, and John up into a high mountain. We can imagine the excitement in the hearts of the three men; there was no predicting what Jesus was going to do. They could never have anticipated what He had in store for them. It began with a transformation of Jesus right in front of them. Tradition calls this a transfiguration, meaning a change in form or appearance. Jesus began to shine with a bright light and His clothes glowed a brilliant white. Suddenly two men stood with Him and conversed with Him. Somehow the disciples knew these men to be Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets.
Nobody knew what to say but that didn’t stop Peter. He made a lame suggestion about putting tents up for them. While this idea was still on Peter’s lips, a bright cloud covered them all. From the cloud came a voice:
“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”
The three disciples fell on their faces in fear. Shivering in the mountain dust, they felt the strong hand of Jesus touching them and they heard His voice telling them not to fear. When they looked up, all was back to normal. Jesus told them to keep this event to themselves until after He rose from the dead.
As they were coming down the mountain, they were silent for most of the descent. Finally one of them ask Jesus about the belief that Elijah must come before the Messiah. Jesus assured them this had already happened; John had fulfilled that role.
The Transfigured Jesus
This historical event also serves as a metaphor for us today. We encounter Jesus in the pages of the Bible but He does not remain a two-dimensional literary figure. When we repent of our sins and confess Him as our Savior, He begins to shine in our hearts. He emerges from the paper and print of the Book to wear the shining white robes of His righteousness, setting Him apart from all others. He converses with Moses to give us an understanding of the Old Covenant. He reveals Himself in the writings of the prophets. Best of all we sense a glory cloud of heavenly presence and hear the voice of the Father. He is the God of the living and His is “God with Us!”
We echo the words of the Psalmist: “We worship at his holy hill.” We know also that as we behold His glory, we are being changed into His likeness! Transfigured!
Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 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!” And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.” And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.
Psalm 99:9 NKJV
Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His holy hill; For the Lord our God is holy.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NKJV
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Lord Jesus, You outshine all others! Let me see Your glory today. I will look for it in the sunrise and sunset and in the noonday sun. I will see Your glory in the Scriptures and in the faces of my brothers and sisters. You will temper the Law and You will interpret the Prophets. I will seek the glory of Your presence and listen for the voice of the Father when You speak to me. This mountain today will be my mountain of Transfiguration! Amen!
Fairest Lord Jesus
1. Fairest Lord Jesus, ruler of all nature,
O thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
thou, my soul’s glory, joy, and crown.
2 Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
robed in the blooming garb of spring:
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer
who makes the woeful heart to sing.
3 Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight,
and all the twinkling starry host:
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
than all the angels heaven can boast.
4 Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
now and forevermore be thine.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved