If you want to know God listen to Jesus

Matthew 17:1-13

Jerry A Collins





²                 How well do you know the nature of Jesus?

²                 What is it about Jesus nature that we should know?

²                 Knowing Jesus nature should provoke what kind of response?


Who is Jesus? That is often the topic of TV specials, articles and books whenever Easter rolls around. God the Father wants to make it perfectly clear to us who His Son is. Unfortunately, like the disciples, we reveal a serious lack of understanding regarding Jesus’ nature.—even after receiving revelation about His nature as the disciples had Mt 16:17. Today that revelation is recorded and inspired in the scriptures. But there is a serious lack of recognition of Jesus true nature amongst those who claim to know Him. Any time the unique person, position, and prowess of Christ is neglected or lessened, a firm rebuke is in order—similar to the one given by the Father to the disciples.  The transfiguration is linked to Peter’s confession in Mt 16:16 about the person of Jesus Christ. Here that confession is fleshed out and seen is stark reality—Jesus is indeed the Christ, the Son of the Living God. So if you want to know what God says or what God is like, listen to Jesus. Christ is God’s beloved Son. There are two directions in the story—one is as they were brought up to a high mountain vs 1 and this is the setting for the transfiguration of Jesus Christ. The second is when they are coming down from the mountain vs 9 and is the setting for the understanding of the disciples.


Once again in the Bible we have a significant event take place on a mountain. It was apparently instinctive to use mountain tops for spiritual experiences as was often the case in the OT. Shrines, tabernacles, altars were all used on the high places for worship. The symbolism was one of coming up out of the world to a place above the fray to recognize one above it all. So God also used these high places to reveal Himself at Mt Sanai, Jesus sermon on the Mount, this Mt of transfiguration and even Mt Zion where Jerusalem was built. Once Jesus had been popular but now the tide was turning against Him and eventually culminates with rejection and crucifixion. In the north Jesus had His Galilean ministry but the leaders were busy discrediting Him a smear campaign of sorts and the people started questioning and even leaving Him. About a week earlier (and six days later vs 1) Peter and the others had heard that some standing there at the time would not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom 16:28. Now on this mountain they will see Christ in all of His glory.

Transfigured This is the one central point of this passage. It is a metamorphosis. A complete change of the form and substance takes place—a complete change in Jesus appearance and form. This is now in reverse. Jesus was transformed into a servant Phil 2 but now He is transformed in glory. Deity had taken on the form of a servant. The Servant takes on the form of deity by revealing His glory. We, too, are to be transformed in Rom 12:1-2. Believer’s lives are to change. We are never to be the same again.

Sun and White Jesus transformation changed His appearance—He was brighter than the light. Try looking at the sun. There is some significant and profound change going on. This is extraordinary. You cannot miss it. Did you see the heat lightening the other night? An amazing display, as this was. The message: There is something so profoundly different with Jesus. He truly is the Lord of glory.

Moses and Elijah They appear and talk with the Lord. Their appearance represents the Law and the prophets. So at stake is the relationship between Jesus and the OT embodied in these two men. In the other gospel accounts we learn they were speaking of Jesus’ departure. In the OT deliverance was an exodus from Egypt to the land of Promise—but here Jesus death is a deliverance from the bondage of sin. So the idea of deliverance both embodied in the Law and proclaimed by the prophets—one represented by Moses the other by Elijah—is also expressed in the death, that is the departure of Jesus to glory. Jesus may face death in the days to come but death in His Father’s service is the path to glory. Moses and Elijah are alive and glorified and so Jesus.


Again Peter takes the lead as he had in 16:16, 22. We have no idea why Peter piped up like this but we see fundamental misunderstanding as he suggests a booth made for all three. In essence he was placing all three on equal standing. It is just not enough  to  acknowledge Jesus’ authority or position as equal with Moses and Elijah. There is so much more to it than Peter understands even though he has made his incredible confession 16:16. Since this is the feast of booths—a time of commemorating deliverance from Egypt and the booths temporary shelters of the time in the wilderness—the building of shelters here may be to celebrate the apparent fulfillment of the promises.

My Beloved Son The Father’s proclamation was a rebuke of Peter’s mind-set. The Father had heard Peter’s original confession now Peter hears the Fathers via a bright cloud overhead. (1) Jesus is the Son of God. (2) Jesus is loved by the Father and pleasing to Him. (3) Jesus must be obeyed. These were the same ideas being challenged and rejected by the religious leaders. Not much has changed has it? The disciples knew more and this confession would add to their understanding. They were terrified at this voice even falling on their faces vs 6. Jesus authority is far greater than Moses and Elijah because of the intimate relationship He has. Jesus nature is superior. Jesus uniqueness is revealed even further with the disappearance of M&E vs 8. Jesus alone was left for the disciples to honor. No one else. Jesus reassuring touch and ‘do not be afraid’ confirms this event was to convince and encourage their faith.


Don’t tell Leaving the Mt Jesus tells them not to speak of this until the resurrection. If this news spread a premature attempt to crown Him before dying for our sins could happen. Jesus resurrection from the dead would confirm what the transfiguration declared—Jesus is indeed the Son of God.

Elijah Elijah is prominent in Jewish thinking and Malachi predicted 4:5 that Elijah would come before the Messiah did. That is yet future vs 11 Jesus says. But in vs 12 he has already come—the disciples understand this to refer to John the Baptist vs 13. Jesus says John came in fulfillment of the prophecy in Malachi but John did not turn the heart of the nation—he was captured and dead. Jesus will be too but the difference there is still more to be fulfilled when Jesus returns in His glory. So the disciples must know that before the crown there will be a cross. He is Savior & King!

1. We see the true nature of Jesus but also a glimpse of what is yet to be. We are to begin the changes now in our spiritual life and God will complete it when we are glorified.

2. Revelation requires a response. On one hand our initial response is fear and worship but continually it must inspire obedience to Jesus. 3. God’s revelation comes from His  love and care for us.   He desires for

us to be with Him in glory.

4. Discipleship is a relationship of obedience with Jesus. A disciple recognizes the uniqueness of Jesus’ Person, mission, ministry and message.

5. A person who claims allegiance to God must realize the need for uncompromising obedience to Jesus, God’s Son.

6. We learn there is no contradiction between the cross and the crown—the kingdom. Moses, Elijah and the Father together confirm who Jesus is as the Law required 3 witnesses.