Summary: The glory of the Son of God was never more magnificently displayed than at His Transfiguration.
THE TRANSFIGURATION OF CHRIST
“Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” Luke. 9:28-31
The Bible does not specify which mountain was the site of the transfiguration, but the traditional site is Mt. Tabor having an elevation of 1,843 feet above sea level and 1,350 feet above the plain of Jezreel where it is located. Today, however, many scholars believe it was Mt. Hermon. According to Matthew 16:13, Jesus was in the region of Caesarea Philippi about a week before His transfiguration, putting Him within fifteen miles of the mountain. Mt. Hermon is composed of three peaks, the highest elevation of which is 9,232 feet. Its summit is snow-capped the year round and its melting snow is the source of water for the Jordan River The name “Mount Hermon” means “sacred mountain.”
Our text clearly states that Jesus went to the mountain to pray. He took the inner circle of disciples with Him. Perhaps it was to include them in the prayer experience, or it could have been to have the transfiguration event witnessed by Peter, James and John. This would be in keeping with the principle of verification of truth set forth in the Law. Deuteronomy 19:15 says, “…by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.”
Peter wrote, “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.” 2 Peter 1:16-18.
John wrote, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) The glory of the Son of God was never more magnificently displayed than at His Transfiguration.
THE LORD’S APPEARANCE CHANGED.
“As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.” Luke 9:29. Isaiah 53:2 described His appearance in His humanity. “For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot , And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.”
During the time of His transfiguration, Jesus appeared in His eternally glorified state. It was this state of glorification that Peter and John wrote about. It was dramatically different from the humanity that Isaiah had prophetically pictured and that these three disciples were used to seeing.
MOSES AND ELIJAH APPEARED WITH JESUS
“And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory (their glorified bodies)” Luke 9:30-31a. Two distinct thoughts come to mind with the appearance of these men. Moses had died yet no man ever found his grave. Jude 9 tells us that Satan contended with the archangel Michael over the body of Moses. This seems to suggest an early and exceptional resurrection of Moses for a purpose of God’s own choosing. This prefigures the resurrection of the redeemed at the time of our Lord’s return to earth.
Elijah never experienced physical death. “As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven.” (2 Kings 2:11). Elijah’s exodus from this life typifies the translation of living saints that will occur at the moment of our Lord’s return.
The second thought that comes to mind is that Moses represented the Law whereas Elijah represented the prophets. It is interesting to note that Luke 24:27 states, “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”
THE SUBSTANCE OF THEIR CONVERSATION
“… and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:31b) The purpose of our Lord’s coming to earth was to die for our sins. This was the sum and substance of the heavenly conversation that took place between Moses, Elijah and the Lord Jesus.
PETER’S UNACCEPTABLE SUGGESTION.
“Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah"--not knowing what he said.” Luke 9:33.