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The true meaning of the transfiguration of Jesus.
Most Christians are aware of the story of the transfiguration of Jesus. This story is found in the Gospel of Matthew 17:1-8. This is also found in Mark 9:1-13 and Luke 9:28-36 (All three accounts can be found at the bottom of this post.)
Jesus took 3 of his disciples, Peter, James and John up into a high mountain.
Matthew 17-1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,
Jesus was then transfigured in front of them
Matthew 17-2 2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
Jesus being transfigured simply means that Jesus appeared to the 3 disciples in his future glorified body.
Most Cristians are actually unaware of the spiritual meaning that underlies the narrative and so miss the true meaning of the story. In this study we shall look a little deeper at what the transfiguration actually meant.
The first thing we need to know is that this event, the transfiguration of Jesus was actually a vision (of Peter, James and John) and not an actual real life event. Jesus did not literally change rather this is what the 3 disciples saw.
We know this was a vision as Jesus himself told them NOT to tell the vision to anyone UNTIL the son of man was risen from the dead.
Matthew 17- 9And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.
The true meaning behind the vision.
This was actually demonstrating the difference between the 2 covenants, the ending of one, the Old Testament covenant and the beginning of another, the New Testament covenant.
The three disciples were asleep at the time the vision began and awoke to see their vision in full flow.
Luke 9- 32But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.
As we are told, they “saw” Jesus in his glorified body and with him they also saw 2 men that stood with him
These 2 men were Moses and Elijah.
Matthew 17- 3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.
The importance of these 2 men is usually total missed. Significantly these 2 men represented the law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah).
They represented the vision that Zechariah saw in chapter 4 of the book of Zechariah.
Zechariah 4- 11Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? 12And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? 13And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 14Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.
Moses and Elijah were the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth (who was Jesus after his resurrection).
Peter then asked Jesus if it was good for the disciples to be there and then said that they would make 3 tabernacles, one for each, Jesus, Moses and Elijah.
Matthew 17- 4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
As Peter spoke a cloud came over them and they were scared.
Luke 9-34 While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.
Then God spoke saying that Jesus was his son and in him he was well pleased. He also made a very important statement to the disciples “HEAR YE HIM.”
Matthew 17- 5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
This is also stated in the other two accounts.
Mark 9- 7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
Luke 9- 35 And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
They were told to listen to Jesus.
They were even more afraid and they fell on their faces. But Jesus came to them and told them not to be afraid.
Matthew 17- 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. 7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.
When they looked up only Jesus remained
Matthew 17- 8 And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.
Both Moses and Elijah had gone. And this is where the significance is often missed or not understood.
The story symbolises the end of the law and the prophets. The law of Moses and the prophets were gone and Jesus was left. God stating “here ye him” was God asserting that it was now Jesus that the disciples were to listen to.
God had stated in the Old Testament that he would raise up a prophet like unto Moses and he would put HIS (Gods) words in his (the prophets) mouth and he (the prophet) would speak all what he (God) would command him.
Deuteronomy 18- 15The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; 16According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. 17And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken.18I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
Jesus superseded the law of Moses and the prophets.
Jesus is the high priest of the new covenant and where there is a new high priest it is required that there be a new law.
Hebrews 7-12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
See my writing for full details on this
The law ended and God no longer speaking through the prophets but through his son
Hebrews 1-1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
There was no need for the disciples to make 3 tabernacles. Only one was required. The true tabernacle that the Lord and not man pitched.
Hebrews 8- 8 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; 2 a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.
Jesus is the more perfect tabernacle.
Hebrews 9- 11But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;
The significance of the transfiguration symbolises the change of the Old covenant attested to through Moses and the prophets, to the New covenant which is through Jesus Christ.