What is The Transfiguration and why is it such an important event? This has been studied by theologians for ages. Through scripture we can understand what happened that day on the mountain and what the significance is.
Jesus specifically selected 3 of his closest disciples and made them witnesses to a monumental event. Peter, James and John were called to follow Jesus up a mountain and pray. What they witnessed was hard to understand and explain in human language. What did they witness?
It is described in Matthew 17:1-8 that Jesus “transformed” (HSCB) in front of them. The greek word used was ‘μεταμορφόω’ which means “to change into another form, to transform, to transfigure”. Mark 9:2-8 uses the same word. Luke 9:28-36 describes the event from his perspective were he attempts to describe the appearance of Jesus transformed.
- “the appearance of His face changed, and His clothes became dazzling white.”
- “His face shone like the sun. Even His clothes became as white as the light.”
- “His clothes became dazzling — extremely white as no launderer on earth could whiten them.”
From head to toe, Jesus transformed in such a way that it can only be described as pure radiant white light.
Then, if that was not enough, two people appeared and spoke to Jesus. The witnesses described them as being Moses and Elijah.
THEN, they heard God himself speak. They heard God declare Jesus as his beloved son and commanded everyone to listen to him.
Suddenly, it was over and everything was back to normal. Walking back down from the mountain Jesus told them not to tell anyone about this event till after he had been resurrected. That means, that this event and the resurrection have a correlation.
The Glorified Body
Human language is limited in how it can describe supernatural events. What we can know is that his entire body was changed. He may have been dirty, sweaty, smelly, had scratches and blisters. His hair may have been messy and oily. His cloths would have been dirty with stains. Just as the Apostles body and cloths would have been. But in that event, all that was gone. His face and cloths were shown to be absolutely pure and without any corruption. His body would have been exactly and perfectly how the body was meant to be before sin in the supernatural state. Same with his cloths. The materials and fibers were also without corruption. But the best words the human language has to describe such an event was “dazzling white”, “shone like the sun”, “white as the light”, and they knew “no launderer on earth could whiten them.”; He looked that pure and clean.
Also read What Happens When We Die
Moses and Elijah
Why was the appearance of Moses and Elijah significant. Moses was the bringer of the Law and Elijah was revered as the example of all prophets. God was making it clear with the presence of the Law bringer and Prophets that their purpose was directed toward Jesus. He is the fulfillment of the Law and greater than all prophets. The Law leads people to the need for Christ and the Prophets lead people to the hope in Christ. The Law and Prophets point to Jesus Christ as the absolute focal point.
What did Jesus discuss with Moses and Elijah?
Luke records what was mentioned in their supernatural discussion. They spoke about his death in Jerusalem. Why would Jesus speak about his future death with Moses and Elijah? For the same reason why those who are significant; Moses revealed the Law that gives the knowledge of everyone’s sin and Elijah (the prophets) foretold about the coming Messiah from sin. Their core purposes and Jesus’ mission was to be the fulfillment of the law, payment for sin, and is the savior from sin. They spoke about where and when that was actually going to take place. That is the extant that we can know about their discussion. The truth is, it is not the discussion that is important, but who Jesus is and what he came to do.
Jesus’ Complete Identity
This event helps them, and now us, understand the true identity of Jesus. He was not merely human but he was divine and directly related to God himself. They got to see the Glory and Deity of Christ. Jesus in his glorified state. A state of being that all whose who ‘listen’ to him will be transformed into as well. This is known as the glorification of believers. Where all believers will be given their glorified bodies after their resurrection and the worlds judgment. John stated ““We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only” (John 1:14). Peter also later testified of this event when he stated ““We did not follow cleverly invented
stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus
Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received honor
and glory from God the Father when the voice came to Him from the
Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well
pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we
were with Him on the sacred mountain” (2 Peter 1:16-18). This event in light of the resurrection helped shape John’s understanding of who Jesus was when he stated “In the beginning was the word, the word was with God, and the word was God.” (John 1:1).
Also read The Triune God of Christianity | Jesus Is God
Humility of Jesus
This also shows that Jesus was still God and did not stop being God. Even though he humbled himself were he willingly and voluntarily limited himself to the form of man; he could still change that, as he saw fit for God’s will to be done in the lives of all who believe this. He showed that while as the Son of Man, he was still the Son of God. He showed that while he allowed himself to feel thirsty and tired, he was still divine.
Being made eyewitnesses of this event strengthened their faith in what he had promised would happen and the persecution they will endure. He tells them about his coming death and resurrection but at that time they did not grasp it. Afterwards it all came together and made them absolutely sound in their faith of who he is, what he did, and what he is going to do. They did not have to fear persecution, death, or their bodies being broken, beaten, and murdered. They knew that they will be raised form the dead and given a glorified body just as Jesus had proved to them. This is an important reality for us now.
Also read Jesus Is Coming Back! | The Resurrection of Jesus Christ | The Satisfaction of Christ Jesus | The Glorious and Blessed Hope | The Absolute Greatest Message To Tell Everyone
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