The Transfiguration - Bible Story Summary

The Divinity of Jesus Christ Was Unveiled in the Transfiguration

The Transfiguration
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The Transfiguration is described in Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-8, and Luke 9:28-36. There is also a reference to it in 2 Peter 1:16–18.

The Transfiguration - Story Summary

Many rumors had been circulating about the identity of Jesus of Nazareth. Some thought he was the second coming of the Old Testament prophet Elijah.

Jesus asked his disciples who they thought he was, and Simon Peter spoke up, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matthew 16:16, NIV) Jesus then explained to them how he must suffer, die, and rise from the dead for the sins of the world.

Six days later, Jesus took Peter, James and John to the top of a mountain to pray. The three disciples fell asleep. When they awoke, they were astounded to see Jesus talking with Moses and Elijah.

Jesus was transformed. His face shone like the sun, his clothing was dazzling white, brighter than anyone could bleach it. He spoke with Moses and Elijah about his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension in Jerusalem.

Peter suggested building three shelters, one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah. He was so terrified he did not know what he was saying.

Then a bright cloud enveloped all of them, and from it a voice said: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." (Matthew 17:5, NIV)

The disciples fell to the ground, paralyzed with fear, but when they looked up, only Jesus was present, returned to his normal appearance. He told them not to be afraid.

On the way down the mountain, Jesus commanded his three followers not to speak of the vision to anyone until he had risen from the dead.

Points of Interest from the Transfiguration Story

  • Bible scholars think the likely location of the Transfiguration was Mount Hermon, a 9,200 feet snow-capped mountain, the runoff of which flows into several streams which merge into the Jordan River.
  • Moses represented the law and Elijah the prophets. Jesus, the promised Messiah, is the fulfillment of the law and prophets and is greater than both.
  • Both Moses and Elijah had seen a vision of the glory of God on a mountain, Moses on Mount Sinai and Elijah on Mount Horeb.
  • The disciples were terrified because they saw a rare peek into God's invisible kingdom, merging with the physical realm of earth. Jesus' glory shone through from inside him, revealing him as God in the flesh.
  • God the Father appeared as a cloud, a mask frequently seen in the Old Testament. His words echoed the same thing he said at Jesus' baptism. When he ordered the disciples to listen to Jesus, it meant the gospel would replace the law as God's plan of salvation.

Question for Reflection

God commanded everyone to listen to Jesus. Do I listen to Jesus as I go about my daily life?