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The Transfiguration of Christ – Part 1


The Transfiguration of Christ – Part 1
Text: Matthew 17:1-8
In this study, we look at the background of the Transfiguration. Let us see:-

1. The Spectators at the Transfiguration. Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother
Jesus took three of his disciples with him up to the place of Transfiguration. So who were these witnesses and why were they chosen by Christ for this task? Firstly, who were these men? They were:-

Peter. Peter was known for his zeal, and his earnestness, and for the great confession of Christ’s divinity that he had made at Caesarea Philippi.

James. James was the son of Zebedee, the brother of John. He was a fisherman, who had been working with his brother along the shores of Galilee when Jesus called him to be a follower of his. Matthew 4:21. Together with his brother John, James was known as a son of Thunder, ‘Boanerges’ – Matthew 4:21, Mark 10:35-39

John. James’s brother. John was one of the Lord’s closest disciples, and his personal friend on this earth! Four times in his Gospel, John refers to himself as ‘The Disciple whom Jesus Loved!” John 19:26 ,John 20:2, John 21:7, John 21:20

But there were other purposes in having these men present. They were:-
* Present for their Evidence. They were EYEWITNESSES to this great event! R E Nixon, commenting on the purpose of the Transfiguration “The narrative suggests that the whole event was objective.” So there were people present who later could persuade others of what had occurred. For example Peter, when writing to the Christian churches, wrote in 2 Peter 1:16-18
* Present for their Equipping. These were men who needed to see what they saw that day! Peter needed to be established in his elevated views of Christ, and to be reconciled to the fact of Christ’s forthcoming death and resurrection. It would encourage James, and prepare him to follow Christ, even though that would lead to martyrdom. Mark 10:35-39 John would be qualified to be the defender of Christ’s glory and divinity, when later he would write his Gospel!
* Present for their Election. These men were chosen by Christ for this particular task. This was not the only time that Jesus took these men to be witnesses of His most private moments. They were the only witnesses of the miracle when Christ raised Jairus’s daughter! Mark 5:35-37. When Christ prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, on that night before his arrest and trial, he took with him, Peter, James and John.. Matthew 26:37

2. The Scene of the Transfiguration. bringeth them up into an high mountain apart
Where did this take place? On a mountain!

God and mountains. Mountains have often been associated with the manifestation of the glory of God. On Mt Zion the temple was built!

Christ and mountains. Christ often selected Mountains as the scene of His work. He preached his great ‘Sermon on the Mount.’ He often went to pray near lakes and mountains. He was Crucified on Mount Calvary, and from Mount Olivet he ascended to heaven.

The Mountain of Transfiguration! So, for his transfiguration, he choose a mountain, possibly Mt Tabor. It was symbolic of the elevation of Christ, his glorification above all the world around, and symbolic of His purity. It typified his place of crucifixion and ascension.
So the scene of the Transfiguration was a mountain.

3. The Season of the Transfiguration. And after six days
What was the occasion of the Transfiguration, and when did this happen?
Its place in the life of Christ. Jesus had been at Caesarea Philippi Matthew 16:16 Matthew 16:17. Matthew 16:22-23 But there was some inconsistency in Peter’s character. One minute he was listening to God’s word and recognising the divine person of Christ, and the next he was being swayed by Satan! Now, it is a week after these events that the Transfiguration occurred!
Its time of day! It was probably the evening of the day, after six days
So we have placed this incident, both geographically and chronologically. Now, finally let us see:-

4. The Sequence of the Transfiguration. Luke 9:28-29
There was a sequence of events in this ‘transfiguration.’ Luke specifically tells us that the Transfiguration occurred after Jesus had chosen his disciples who would follow him into the mountain, and who would witness his Transfiguration and then he did something ‘supernatural’. But what? When we think of supernatural experiences today we are often misled into the realms of the charismatic delusion. What did Jesus do that was supernatural? …

Christ’s Method of Approach to God! He PRAYED! If you want to come close to the glory of Christ there is no mystery, there is no magic formula, there is no book you can purchase, and there is only prayer!
Christ’s Purpose in Approaching God! This was why Jesus went to the mountain that day! He went to pray! This was his chief objective. Not to display his glory, not to excite his followers. Not to enthuse his disciples – all of those things were present – but they were the side-effects of prayer!

Why did Jesus pray? After all, He was divine, he possessed all the attributes of God, incarnate in the flesh. He was, while here on earth, still the second person of the blessed Holy Trinity. But he prayed! He prayed because he was our mediator, and as such he presents a perfect pattern to the church. In heaven, he ‘ever liveth to make intercession for us

Robert K McEvoy

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