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The Transfiguration of Jesus Matthew 17:1-8.

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The transfiguration of jesus matthew 17 1 8
The Transfiguration of JesusMatthew 17:1-8

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah." 5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Rise, and have no fear." 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.


We need to see the Mosaic background of this experience of Jesus. The Transfiguration is a presentation of Jesus as a new and greater Moses


Jesus transfiguration compared with moses receiving the law
Jesus’ Transfiguration Compared With Moses Receiving the Law

Jesus in Matthew 17

Moses in Exodus 24 and 34

Exodus 24:16 The glory of the LORD dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.

Exodus 24:12 ¶ The LORD said to Moses, "Come up to me on the mountain and wait there,….

Exodus 24:1 Then he said to Moses, "Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar.

  • Matthew 17:1 ¶ And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.


Jesus transfiguration compared with moses receiving the law1
Jesus’ Transfiguration Compared With Moses Receiving the Law

Jesus in Matthew 17

Moses in Exodus 34 and 24

34:29 ¶ When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30 Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone,. 31 … 35 the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face was shining.

24:15 ¶ Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16The glory of the LORD dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.

34:29….Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.

  • Matthew 17:2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.

  • Matthew 17:5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloudsaid, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him."

  • Matthew 17:6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified.


Now, the text: “And he was transfigured before them….”


Matthew: “he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun”

Luke: “And as he was praying the appearance of his face changed” 9:29

Matthew:“his clothes became white as light”

Luke: “…and his clothing became dazzling white.” 9:29

Mark: “…and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them.” 9:3


And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah."

Why Moses and Elijah?

They were prominent OT men of God who had had an uncommon end-of-life experience:

A. Moses’ death was apparently normal but he was buried by God and “no one knows the place of his burial to this day.” (Deu. 34:5-6)

B. Elijah was taken to heaven by a whirlwind in a fiery chariot (2 Kings 2:11).


Why Moses and Elijah? with him.

Moses also became a type of future prophet whom God would send in last days; this rabbinic belief was based on Deu. 18:18“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.”

Elijah was also to be a figure of the last days based on Malachi 4:5-6"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.


And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah."

Peter’s remarks about the “tents” ( or “tabernacles” or “shelters”) may call to mind the wilderness tabernacles of Moses’ day or the Feast of Tabernacles when Jews built shelters for themselves and lived in them for 7 days (Lev. 23:42-43). This may suggest some attempt on Peter’s part to prolong the experience by encouraging them to stay longer. But Peter’s gesture shows an error in his estimation of Jesus; Peter was compromising Jesus’ uniqueness. He puts Jesus on the same level as Moses and Elijah. Another possibility is that Peter thought that the time of Jesus’ glorification had come.


  • These words are a repetition of the words spoken at Jesus’ baptism. They are a mingling of phrases fromPsalm 2:7 (I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you.”) andIsa. 42:1 (¶ Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.). God is stressing that Jesus is both His Son and the Suffering Servant of Isaiah. These words identifies Jesus as being greater than Moses or Elijah.

5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." 6


  • The cloud speaks fundamentally of the presence of God. baptism. They are a mingling of phrases from

  • These words are likely an allusion to Deu. 18:15 ¶ "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers--it is to him you shall listen-- 16 just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, 'Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.' 17 And the LORD said to me, 'They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.

5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." 6


Deu baptism. They are a mingling of phrases from. 18:15-18 "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers--it is to him you shall listen-- 16 just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, 'Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.' 17 And the LORD said to me, 'They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.

Acts 3: …that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. 22 Moses said, 'The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.'


“listen to him." baptism. They are a mingling of phrases from

Jesus is not just another prophet, even one like Moses; Moses was the kind of prophet that God would some day send to speak His word, and Jesus is that eschatological Prophet; he is the climax of divine revelation; he is the Son whom God loves and the Suffering Servant of whom God is well-pleased.

These words are directed to the disciples!


6 baptism. They are a mingling of phrases from When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Rise, and have no fear." 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

What a contrast: Jesus’ face is shining and the disciples’ faces are hidden. It is the divine Presence and voice of God that is awesome.

Evidently, Moses and Elijah have been taken back to the heavenly realm leaving Jesus alone as the one to whom they should listen.

This transfiguration of Jesus recalls Exodus 24 and 34 when Moses met with God on Mt. Sinai. Jesus is the prophet like Moses, who, as the unique Son of God, is greater than Moses. Moses, the first redeemer, is a type of the last Redeemer.


There are other important themes in the Transfiguration: baptism. They are a mingling of phrases from

1. The transfiguration of Jesus anticipates and shows forth the glory of his future Coming mentioned at 16:27-29.

Compare 2 Peter 1: 16-18:For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.


2. The transfiguration foreshadows the resurrection , (In 13:43 the resurrected saints will shine like the sun) both that of Jesus and our own; it is a glimpse of what our future resurrection will be like.

3. The transfiguration of Jesus anticipates his eventual exaltation, but it also reveals Christ’s divine nature, what he was and is. Cp. Phil 2:6-7

  • The words of God, “with him I am well pleased” point to Jesus being the “suffering servant” of Isaiah 42:1.

  • 5. Finally, the Transfiguration confirms Peter’s confession at 16:16.


An Antithetical Parallelism Between the Transfiguration and the Cross

High on the cross we have Jesus a public spectacle of Jesus in humiliation and condemnation

Jesus stands on a high mountain

His clothes are taken away from him (“…they divided his garments among them by casting lots…” 27:35)

His garments are bright and glistening

He is flanked by two sinners (“Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left.” 27:38)

He is flanked by two of the greatest OT saints

Elijah is mentioned but does not come (“And some of the bystanders…said, ‘This man is calling Elijah.’” 27:46-47

He has brought 3 of his followers to witness his glorification

Three onlookers are mentioned (“..Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.” 27:56)

There is a holy fear present

No reverence or fear (“And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads….mocked him…” 27:39-41)

Jesus is proclaimed to be the Son of God

Jesus is confessed as Son of God (“…the centurion..keeping watch over Jesus…said ‘Truly this was the Son God.’” 27:54)

All is darkness (“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land….” 27:45)

All is light


The Transfiguration the Cross

The Execution

Public spectacle

Private Epiphany

Jesus

Jesus

Moses

Elijah

thief

thief

Elevation on the cross

Jesus is taken by others

There are onlookers (three women are named)

Jesus is called Son of God

“let us see whether Elijah will come”

“they were afraid”

Garments torn and taken away

“from the sixth hour there was darkness”

The mountain

Jesus takes others with him

There are onlookers (three disciples are named)

Jesus is confessed as Son of God

Elijah is present

“they were afraid”

Garments glisten

“after six days”

Taken from ICC, pg.707


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