The Expository Files


The Transfiguration of Christ

Matthew 17:1-9


"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." (Matt. 17:1-2)

The story of the Transfiguration of our Lord is so central to the gospel that it is recorded in the first three Gospels (Matt. 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-9; Luke 9:28-36). John is probably referring to it also in John 1:14. The apostle Peter also referred to it in 2 Pet. 1:13-19. This glorious event has been termed one of the most astonishing of all of our Lordís experiences on earth. This memorable privilege was only granted to three disciples, Peter, James and John. We can almost detect the awe in the words of John when he said, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).

The word "transfigured" comes from the Greek word "metamorphoo," meaning, "To be transformed," and the description shows to what extent. Mark said, "His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them." In the midst of this change the Lordís identity was not lost, but His form was changed so that His deity shined through His humanity. By seeing the great glory of the Lord, when the disciples would later see His humiliation and death, this wonderful experience would sustain them. The disciples had trouble putting together the seemingly contradictory threads of the suffering and glory of Messiah. This transfiguration visualized for them that the glory which was to be the Lordís would come through suffering.

Moses and Elijah appeared speaking with the Lord about His death at Jerusalem (Luke 9:31). Elijah had fought the great battle with the false prophets of Baal and had been taken up into heaven. He appears to represent the prophets of the Old Testament period. Moses was the great leader and lawgiver of the Mosaic period. As these great men talked with the beloved Son of God Peter interrupted, "because he did not know what to say" being afraid, and said, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah" (Mk. 9:5-6). Mark said, "A cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my beloved Son. Hear Him!" (Mark 9:7). This is Godís most emphatic identification of Jesus as Messiah. The last part of that statement explains the significance of Jesusí identityó"Hear Him." If Jesus is Messiah, the Christ of God, and He is, then we (all men) had better listen carefully to Him. The Hebrew writer said, "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds" (Heb. 1:1-2). The transfiguration symbolizes the passing of the reigns of authority from the hands of Moses and the prophets into the hands of the Jesus Christ.

From Walking in Truth

"Daily Devotionals by Guy Roberson"


By Guy Roberson 
From Expository Files 21.11; November 2014