Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.
Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground.
The Transfiguration was a vision, a brief glimpse of the true glory of the king (Matthew 16:27-28). This was a special revelation of Jesus’ divinity to three of the disciples, and it was God’s divine affirmation of everything Jesus had done and was about to do.
Moses and Elijah were the two greatest prophets in the Old Testament. Moses represents the law, or the old covenant. He wrote the Pentateuch, and he predicted the coming of a great prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15-19). Elijah represents the prophets who foretold the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5-6). Moses’ and Elijah’s presence with Jesus confirmed Jesus’ messianic mission—to fulfill God’s law and the words of God’s prophets. Just as God’s voice in the cloud over Mount Sinai gave authority to his law (Exodus 19:9), God’s voice at the Transfiguration gave authority to Jesus’ words.
Jesus told Peter, James, and John not to tell anyone what they had seen until after his resurrection because Jesus knew that they didn’t fully understand it and could not explain what they didn’t understand. Their question (Matthew 17:10) revealed their misunderstandings. They knew that Jesus was the Messiah, but they had much more to learn about the significance of his death and resurrection.
Jesus is more than just a great leader, a good example, a good influence, or a great prophet. He is the Son of God. When you understand this profound truth, the only adequate response is worship. How can you help others to see Jesus as you see him and to have the hope you place in him?