Summary: “He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light” Matt. 17:2.
Matt. 17:1-9 Theme: Our transfigured Lord
Text: Ex. 24:12-18; 2 Pet. 1:16-21; Matt. 17:1-9
Today 6th March is Ghana’s 54th Independence anniversary. No one doubts the date, even those less than 54 years, because there were many witnesses to this important event. There is another event testified to by witnesses that is not only important but has eternal consequences, the transfiguration of Christ. The transfiguration followed the conversation between Christ and His disciples about who He is. After hearing the various answers, He asked the disciples directly who they believed he is. Peter had a revelation from God and answered correctly. His behaviour afterwards indicated that he did not really understand what he had said so Jesus took three of them to the mountain where they became witnesses of the divinity of our transfigured Lord.
The glorified appearance of Christ gave the disciples a clear visual evidence of the divinity of Jesus. According to the Scriptures, Jesus' divine nature was "veiled" in human form (Hebrews 10:20) and at the transfiguration, He lifted the veil for the disciples to see His divine nature. The transfiguration was also a visible sign of His power. In His transfigured form, Christ met with Moses and Elijah. The Scriptures indicate that Moses died and God buried him whereas Elijah went to heaven alive. Yet Christ met and talked with them. He literally met and talked with the living and the dead from another realm. Moses and Elijah were the two greatest prophets in the Old Testament – Moses represented the Law and Elijah the prophets. Moses delivered Israel out of bondage to Egypt and Elijah delivered them from bondage to false gods. Jesus, however, would deliver them from bondage to sin and death. Their appearance and their sudden disappearance leaving Jesus alone showed Jesus as the fulfilment of both the Old Testament Law and the prophetic promises and that the Old Covenant had given way to the New.
Who is Jesus? God the Father tells us that Jesus is His Son. The transfiguration was not only a revelation of the divinity of Christ but was also a revelation of the promised kingdom of God. It was the Father’s way of encouraging the Son. As God spoke to encourage His Son at His baptism before the beginning of His ministry, He now speaks to encourage Him before the end of His earthly ministry as He made His way to Jerusalem to suffer a very painful death. The transfiguration showed the Father’s approval of everything Jesus had done and was about to do. Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? No other person can manifest the glory of God unless that is God.
The transfiguration is a confirmation of the prophetic word that Jesus Christ is Lord as every true prophecy comes from God. The whole Bible is a prophecy about the Lordship of Christ. Peter, James and John, the inner circle of the Disciples of Christ stood as human witnesses to the divinity and glory of Jesus Christ. They witnessed the evidence that Jesus Christ was who He claimed to be.
There were also three heavenly witnesses, Moses, Elijah, and the voice of God from heaven. Therefore, the Old Testament law of three witnesses required to attest to any fact (Deuteronomy 19:15) was satisfied both on earth and in heaven.
The glory of Christ seen in His appearance and clothing testified that Christ is the Messiah. The glory of God was always present in Christ and one lesson we learn from the transfiguration is that the glory can be present yet remain hidden. This should teach us that a visible experience of Christ’s glory is not a substitute for the Word of God. A visible experience always confirms the Word yet the Word remains true even without any visible experience. We sometimes pray for God to reveal Himself visibly. Even if He did, and He sometimes does, we should not see it as more valuable than the Word of God. Visions are no substitute for faith in the Word of God. We are to listen to His words and follow in His steps, confident that what the disciples saw, the hidden glory that Jesus always had, we shall also see and experience at the appropriate time. Three earthly and three heavenly witnesses including God Himself confirmed the divinity of Christ. Is Jesus Christ your Lord?
The response to Christ’s divinity is worship. Worship is to honour and glorify God. Peter, James and John beheld His glory and Peter did not want to leave His presence. True worship is to worship God in Spirit and in truth that is to worship Him from the heart according to His Word. When we accept the divinity of Christ, the natural thing to do is to obey Him. The Father Himself encourages us to do so when He says, “This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to Him”. In the words of Christ “His words are Spirit and they are life”. Obedience is for our own benefit. Worship and obedience leads to trust and trust in Christ leads to joy, as He is the source of joy. Joy is not dependent on feelings or circumstances; it is dependent on God who is eternal and unchangeable.