Summary: I believe the Transfiguration took place, because God the Father wanted to answer the question: Definitely - once and for all, “Who is Jesus?”
The Transfiguration Matthew 17:1-17:13
A man was arraigned for murder in Los Angeles about 60 years ago.
It was a difficult case with a lot of circumstantial evidence.
The man’s defense lawyer, however, thought of an ingenious ploy.
In his summing up speech, he said:
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, you must find my client not guilty of murder - if there is the slightest doubt in your minds that he is not the murderer.”
And now I have one final witness.
“The true murderer is about to walk through the door.”
All eyes swung towards the door but no one came in.
The lawyer continued: “You see, Ladies and Gentlemen, there is doubt in your minds, otherwise you would not have looked towards the door.”
The jury retired to deliberate and came back five hours later with a “Guilty” verdict.
The lawyer was beside himself and before the judge could pass sentence he sprang up and said, “But I proved that you had a doubt about my client’s guilt. How can you possibly find him guilty?”
An old wrinkled man in the jury stood up and said: “As everyone looked towards the door, I watched your client. His eyes did not turn towards the door. He did not look towards the door because he knew no one was coming through; because he himself was the guilty one.”
In contrast to that Los Angeles Courtroom, where the star witness did not appear, this morning’s Gospel reading is all about a star witness who did appear.
And He came to answer the question that was on everyone’s lips: “Who is Jesus?”
Who was this star witness?
He was none other than God the Father, who answered the question by revealing Jesus’ glory to the disciples Peter, James and John and by saying: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
And the relevance of all this for us was summed in two simple words “Hear Him!”
Jesus is God’s Son and we need to listen to Him.
The Gospel reading is known as the story of the Transfiguration.
It refers to the “remarkable transformation that once took place in the appearance of Jesus.”
This is how Matthew described what happened.
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.
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!”
6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.
7 But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.”
8 When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
9 Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.”
10 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
11 Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things.
12 But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.”
13 Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.
When I looked at the passage, my first reaction was--
1. Why did the event take place?
I think a key to the answer can be found in the context of the story.
In the previous chapter, Matthew 16, we reed that people had been asking the question: “Who is Jesus?”
For example, Jesus asked his disciples: “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (13)
It is clear from their response that it was a hot topic.
“Well” the disciples replied, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (14)
If it hadn’t been “hot gossip” at the time, they wouldn’t have said that.
But it wasn’t just the crowds who were talking about Jesus.
His own disciples were asking the same question.
Listen to what Jesus said: