Day 20 - Only Jesus

Day 20 - Only Jesus

Written by: Joy Hardin

Matthew 17:1-8
Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. 2 As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. 3 Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus. 4 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.” 5 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.” 6 The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground. 7 Then Jesus came over and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 And when they looked up, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus.” (NLT)

As Jesus draws closer to the cross and begins telling his disciples of his coming death, this amazing event takes place. The Transfiguration has been considered a mountain top experience, and certainly it was an incredible one for Peter, James, and John. But what was the purpose of this miraculous occasion and why did three of the Gospel writers include the story? (See also Mark 9:2-13 and Luke 9:28-36.)

The Transfiguration further confirms Jesus as the promised Messiah. He not only fulfilled the Law and the Prophets, he spoke with them face-to-face. Moses represented the Law and Elijah represented the Prophets.

We see that Peter, spontaneous as always and thinking in the flesh, wanted to build tents for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Have you ever had an incredible experience and never wanted it to end? This is probably what Peter was feeling. Hoping this would go on forever, he tried to hold them to the ground in physical shelters. God the Father called an abrupt end to Peter’s vain exclamation by loudly praising Jesus His Son, much as He had at Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 3:17). Again Jesus is affirmed as the Son of God.

Jesus was changed or transformed, reminding us that while he was fully man, he was also fully God. He gave up his divine privileges for us. The word used for “Transfigured” is metamorphose. This is the same word used in Romans 12:1-2. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (ESV). This describes the change that should be found in us as God’s people. It’s the Greek word associated with the change of a butterfly or amphibian. These are animals that go through a radical change, just as we must.

Luke also tells us what Jesus, Moses, and Elijah were talking about. “They were speaking about his exodus from this world, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31, NLT). God the Father knew that his Son had a heavy path ahead, so his appearance and that of these two godly Old Testament leaders would certainly encourage Jesus. I’ll never forget when carrying one of our children, it was considered an “at-risk” pregnancy. Even though Pat and I had an incredible peace, when it came time for her delivery our family and friends flooded the hospital halls. They wanted to be there to support and encourage us through. Here we see God the Father bringing these two great Old Testament men to encourage Jesus on through his journey.  

At the sound of the Father’s voice, Peter, James, and John fell on their faces in fear. In all three accounts of the Transfiguration, God the Father says, “This is my Son. Listen to him.” When the disciples looked up, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus” (NLT).

In this passage we are only given one command: Listen to Jesus. Romans 12:1-2 talks about discerning the will of God, which is what happens when we listen to Jesus. Read Romans 12:1-2 again and list the areas of your life you need to let the Lord transform.

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (NLT).

Father, just as you spoke to the disciples and told them to listen to your Son, I know you want me to listen to you as well. Help me to hear and understand your voice. Transform my life, my behavior, and my mind to please you.