1 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light (Matthew 17:1–2, NKJV).
Peter, James, and John saw a glimpse of Christ’s divine glory and majesty when His appearance changed on the mountain (2 Pet. 1:16-18). Christ had shared the glory of eternal deity with the Father from time immemorial (John 17:5). When He came to earth, He humbly emptied Himself of the appearance of divine glory and became “in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:5-8; Micah 5:2; John 1:1, 14). When His form changed on the mount, the brilliance of His countenance revealed the brightness of His divine glory. Moses the Lawgiver and Elijah the prophet appeared with Jesus, and they talked about His approaching death in Jerusalem (Luke 9:31). Awakened from slumber and fearful, Peter proposed honoring Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, but his plan was silenced by the voice of the Father and the command to listen to His Son (Matt. 17:3-5). Jesus has authority over Moses and Elijah (the Law and the prophets, Matt. 5:17-18). Like the apostles, we must hear Jesus and follow all He says because He has all authority over the world (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 3:22-23; Heb. 1:2). A touch of the Master’s hand and the reassurance of His voice calmed the apostles’ fear (Matt. 17:6-8). So may we humbly and reverently listen to and obey the word of Christ day by day (Col. 3:17). When we do, Christ’s word calms our souls with the assurance of His presence and eternal life (Heb. 13:5; 1 John 5:11-13).
4 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.” 5 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!” (Matthew 17:4–5, NKJV)
Jesus was unique, being fully deity and fully human; “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). He is the Word who was “with God,” “was God,” and who “became flesh” (John 1:1, 14). John, His forerunner, announced Jesus “is the Son of God” (John 1:34). Nathaniel confessed Jesus is “the Son of God” (John 1:49). The superiority of Jesus was on full display during His transfiguration (Matt. 17:2-3). Peter seemingly failed to grasp the implications of this great truth (v. 4). Jesus is not the equal of Moses and Elijah (the law and the prophets); He is their superior. The Father’s voice confirmed three indisputable truths. (1) “This is My beloved Son.” Jesus is the Son of God; He is deity (Luke 1:31, 35). (2) “In whom I am well pleased.” Jesus pleased the Father in everything He said and did (John 8:29). (3) “Hear Him.” We must listen to Jesus (Acts 3:22-23). When we confess that Jesus is the Son of God, it compels us to listen to and follow Him (John 8:31-32). When He was born, Jesus was the Son of God (Isa. 9:6; Luke 2:7, 11). At His baptism, he is the Son of God (Matt. 3:17). Jesus said He was the Son of God while on earth (John 10:36). When He was transfigured, He was the Son of God (Matt. 17:5). Now, God speaks to us through His Son (Heb. 1:1-3). Listen to Jesus. Obey Him. He is the Son of God.
1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 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 (Hebrews 1:1–2, NKJV).
When Jesus was transfigured on the mount, “a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory,” saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The voice commanded to “Hear Him” (2 Pet. 1:17; Matt. 17:5). All are under divine order to hear Jesus. By doing so, we are listening to God since God “has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.” How does Jesus speak to us? Not through living prophets like God did to the Hebrew fathers (Heb. 1:1). Not through dreams and visions like in times past. Not by so-called personal promptings of the Spirit (subjective notions attributed to the Spirit of God). Jesus said by receiving those He sent into the world (His apostles), we receive Him and the One who sent Him (John 13:20). The salvation Jesus began to speak was “confirmed to us by those who heard Him” (His apostles, Heb. 2:3-4; Mark 16:15-18). We “shall not escape if we neglect” the great salvation they preached (John 16:13; Mark 16:20). When Pentecost believers heard and received the apostles’ words, they repented and were baptized and, thus saved, were added by the Lord to the church (Acts 2:37-41, 47). Christ saves every soul the same way today. Yes, we must hear Jesus today. How? By receiving, obeying, and continuing in the word His apostles taught (Acts 2:41-42; 10:42-43; 1 Cor. 14:37; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).
9 Now as they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant (Mark 9:9–10, NKJV).
Peter, James, and John had just witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus, seen Moses and Elijah talking with Him, and heard the Father’s voice say, “This is my beloved Son. Hear Him” (Mark 9:1-7). Why did Jesus tell them to tell no one what they had seen until “the Son of Man had risen from the dead?” Here are a couple of reasons. First, several were already bearing testimony that Jesus is the Son of God: (1) John the Baptist, the Elijah of prophecy (Mark 10:11-13; Matt. 11:14; John 5:33-35); (2) The Father Himself by the miracles of Jesus (John 5:36-37); and (3) The Scriptures (John 5:38-39). Second, the apostles were not yet prepared to tell others what they had seen. That was not their job at this moment. They still had much to learn from the Master. Only now did they understand John was the prophesied Elijah (Matt. 17:12-13). They did not know Jesus would rise from the dead (Mark 9:10). They did not yet grasp the redemptive work of Christ (Peter even rebuked Jesus for saying He would suffer, be killed, and rise after three days, Matt. 16:21-23). Rest assured, the apostles would tell others about the transfiguration when Christ commissioned them to preach the gospel to the world (Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; see 2 Pet. 1:16-18). What can we learn from this? (1) Teachers must first be students of God’s word (1 Tim. 4:13, 15-16). (2) Teach what you know while maturing in your knowledge of God’s word (2 Tim. 2:15; Heb. 5:11-6:3). (3) Zeal without knowledge can be dangerous (Rom. 10:2-3).
3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 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.” 5 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!” (Matthew 17:3–5, NKJV)
The Word (Christ) did not cling to the “form of God” when He became flesh (Phil. 2:5-7). That is, He emptied Himself of the glorious appearance of deity He shared with the Father “before the world was” (Jno. 17:5; Jno. 1:1, 14). Without divesting Himself of His Godhood, He took the “form of a bondservant” and became human (Phil. 2:7). His humility reached its zenith when He obediently died on the cross (Phil. 2:8). On the mountain, when Jesus was transfigured, Peter, James, and John saw a glimpse of His glory and heard the Father’s confirmation of His Sonship (Matt. 17:1-2; Lk. 9:32; 2 Pet. 1:16-17). Jesus is superior to the Law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah). Therefore, we must hear the Son in everything He teaches (Acts 3:22-23). That means we go to His New Testament to inform and activate our faith, not to the Old Testament law and prophets (Heb. 1:1-2). We listen to the Son by hearing and accepting His apostles’ teachings (Jno. 13:20; Matt. 28:19-20). Are you listening to the Son of God?