Summary: Jesus shows His true color in the Transfiguration
2.23.20 Matthew 17:1-9
Six days later Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John the brother of James; and he led them up onto a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured in front of them. His face was shining like the sun. His clothing became as white as the light. 3 Just then, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Jesus. 4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you want, I will make three shelters here: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them. Just then, a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down and were terrified. 7 Jesus approached and as he touched them, he said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” 8 When they opened their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus alone. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Do not tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Precious Lord, Take My Hand
A chameleon is known for its ability to change colors in order to adapt and blend into the background it is living in - so that it is less susceptible to attack. Their natural colors are usually brown, grey, or green. When a human being is said to show their “true colors” it means that they are being who they truly are. Usually we mean that in a bad sense, “He showed his true colors.” When Jesus became white on the top of the Mount of Transfiguration, we might say that he was showing his true colors, but in a good sense. His holiness and divinity beamed from within Him. He didn’t conceal His glory. He let it shine. It was a beautiful sight for Peter, James, and John, one they would never forget.
Jesus took them up a high mountain to reveal His glory. I love hiking into nature. It cleanses the mind and stresses the body, pushes you to the limit, gets you away from the business of life and helps you to reset. But this was more than a physical ploy used by Jesus to clear their minds. Moses went up Mt. Sinai into a cloud of fire to receive the Ten Commandments from God, and the elders also went up and ate and drank in the presence of God. (Exodus 24) When Elijah ran from his ministry in fear of Jezebel he too fled to Mt. Horeb, and there the LORD spoke to him with a gentle whisper. (1 Kings 19) So Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a mountain, not only to reveal His glory to them, but also for them to see Moses and Elijah as well. These icons of the faith: Moses the lawgiver and Elijah the prophet: were not dead. They were alive and well, having a conversation with Jesus. What a glorious sight it was!
In some ways this was indescribable. Matthew says that Jesus’ clothes shone as bright as light and his face shone like the sun. Luke described his clothes like lightning. Mark mentions that they were brighter than anyone could bleach them. Different ways of describing what was really seemingly indescribable - the glory of God shining through the clothing of a man.
Jesus had done glorious things like calming a storm, walking on water, healing lame people and lepers, and raising the dead. But this was in another sense a completely different ball game. He wasn’t just showing His divinity through His ACTIONS, He was showing in His very BEING. He was in His very essence THE GLORIOUS GOD in the flesh, and the disciples got to see it with their very eyes. Think of a butterfly coming out of its cocoon for the first time. What an awesome thing it is to see it break forth, spread its colorful wings and fly. Peter, James, and John were witnesses to a beautiful view of Jesus. As they describe it to us, the Holy Spirit wants us to envision it with our eyes of faith as well, as if we were standing there with Peter, James, and John, staring at Jesus too.
But the conversation that Jesus was having with Moses and Elijah was not what they wanted to hear. They were talking about Jesus exodus, how Jesus was going to leave and finish out this ministry. When the Israelites left the slavery of Egypt, it had to happen at the death of the firstborn children of Egypt and the firstborn lambs of the Israelites. This exodus - in order to free us from sin and death - would happen at the death of Jesus. Moses and Elijah understood. They were able to discuss this with Jesus and not try to talk Him out of it. They would be able to speak on the same level as Jesus and encourage Him on the way to heaven. This is what they had prophesied about. They knew what had to be done. Jesus would have to suffer and die on the cross. This glorious God would have to reveal His glory once again and go down from the Mountain to go to the valley of the shadow of death.