27 – The Greatest Prophet
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.
And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean. And they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” And he said to them, “Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.”
- Transfigured: The way he looked was changed
- Rabbi: Teacher
What sort of things do you associate with the word radiant?
Have you ever said the wrong thing because you didn’t know what to say?
Our society puts a great emphasis on being clean. This is especially true when we come to clothing – it’s not acceptable to wear dirty clothes. That is why so many adverts on the television try to sell washing powder – they all promise to make your clothes (especially your white clothes) shining bright. The suggestion is that clothes that shine bright make you a better person.
But with Jesus, the opposite happens. He wants to show the three disciples who are closest to him something more about himself. It is not his clothes which make him shine. His clothes shine because of his perfection. These three are going to lead the Church in the future, and therefore, Jesus prepares them by showing them a little bit of his greatness.
The disciples see Jesus talking with two men who had done great things in God’s name. Israel received God’s law through the hand of Moses, and Elijah was regarded as the greatest prophet. And here they are, having a conversation with Jesus.
It is no surprise that the disciples didn’t know what to say. But Peter makes a mistake by suggesting that Jesus, Moses, and Elijah all deserve the same amount of honour. Therefore, God the Father speaks, saying that only Jesus is his Son and that they need to listen to him.
The thing that would show once and for all that Jesus was telling the truth about himself would be his death and resurrection. But the disciples could not understand what it meant. They demonstrate their failure to understand by asking about Elijah. It had been prophesied that God would send Elijah to prepare the way for the Messiah. Jesus’ answer is that John the Baptist has come in the spirit and strength of Elijah to do this work and that they have not understood that portion of the Scriptures nor the parts which say that the Messiah has to suffer. Have you understood why Jesus has to suffer for you?
What do we learn about Jesus here?
What certainty does the resurrection of Jesus give us?
that you may see more of the glory of Jesus, understand his word better and listen closely to it.