After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters–one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. (Matthew 17:1-8)
I am kind of with Peter. I can certainly see why he wanted to stay up on that mountaintop. It was so much more peaceful and pleasant up there than dealing with all those frustratingly annoying sheep below. It’s pure peace at the feet of the Master.
But it was not God’s plan for Peter, James and John to set up residence on the mountaintop. And it isn’t His plan for us either. Earth is not our home, heaven is. Peter was permitted that glorious encounter for the benefit of me and for you. He was given a special moment with Jesus that revealed His very nature. Our “encounters,” whether they are truths taught or an experience of God’s faithfulness demonstrated in our lives, are not for us alone. They are to be used to help strengthen the faith of others as well.
In our verses for today, Jesus takes His inner circle–Peter, James, and John–up a high mountain for an encounter with God that they will never forget. Indeed, Peter records in his second epistle as being an eyewitness to this incredible encounter:
We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. (2 Peter 1:16-18)
In the Matthew passage it tells us that Jesus was “transfigured” before them. The word translated “transfigured” is from the Greek word metamorphoo meaning “to transform, change one’s form; to alter fundamentally.” This word is used of Jesus’ transfiguration which involved the miracle of transformation from an earthly form into a supernatural one … It describes a spiritual transformation, an invisible process in Christians which takes place during their life in this age. (Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, New Testament Lexical Aids). This same word is found in Romans 12:2 when Paul admonishes us to be different from the world by being “transformed” by the renewing of our minds:
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
Paul also tells us in 2 Corinthians that believers are being “transformed” into Christ’s likeness with ever-increasing glory which comes from the Holy Spirit:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
Take It to Heart
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)