Reflection from my reading in Matthew 17 in the One Year Bible New Testament.
The “transfiguration” is one of those cool stories in the gospels, but what was it’s purpose? These three reasons are my best guess as to why the transfiguration happened. Of course we can not fully know the mind of God and why he does things, but from the text I think these are logical reasons.
1. To Show the Majesty and Glory of Jesus
“And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.” Matthew 17:2
The phrase “He was transfigured” is literally the word metamorphoo (like the english word metamorphosis) which means ‘to be changed or transformed.’ Warren Wiersbe put it elegantly,
“A metamorphosis is a change on the outside that comes from the inside. When a caterpillar builds a cocoon and later emerges as a butterfly, it is due to the process of metamorphosis. Our Lord’s glory was not reflected but radiated from within. There was a change on the outside that came from within as He allowed His essential glory to shine forth.”
Jesus was giving Peter, James and John a glimpse of his true glory.
2. To Show Jesus in the Context of the Old Testament
“And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.” Matthew 17:3
I’m not sure how the disciples knew it was Moses and Elijah, but seeing them with Jesus puts him in the context of those men who paved the way for his coming.
Moses and Elijah could represent the “law and the prophets.” Wiersbe said, “All of the Law and Prophets point to Christ and are fulfilled in Christ.” Seeing Jesus with them underlines the fact that he is one with the God of the Old Testament.
3. To Show the Father’s Pleasure with Jesus
“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.” Matthew 17:5
The Father took this opportunity to give Jesus the ultimate endorsement. Peter in his second letter wrote of his experience as a proof of Jesus’ divinity.
“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. 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,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.” 2 Peter 1:16–18
He is the Son of God and everything he does please the Father. We would be wise to listen to him!
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