8. How & Why Was Jesus Transfigured; Matthew 17:22
Jesus Was Transfigured
Reads as follows:
Matthew 17:1 And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart:
Matthew 17:2 and he was transfigured (changed) before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his garments became white as the light.
Matthew 17:3 And behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elijah talking with him.
Matthew 17:4 And Peter answered, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, I will make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.
Matthew 17:5 While he was yet speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
Matthew 17:6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.
Matthew 17:7 And Jesus came and touched them and said, Arise, and be not afraid.
Matthew 17:8 And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one, save Jesus only.
Matthew 17:9 And as they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen from the dead.
Matthew 17:10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elijah must first come?
Matthew 17:11 And he answered and said, Elijah indeed cometh, and shall restore all things:
Matthew 17:12 but I say unto you, that Elijah is come already, and they knew him not, but did unto him whatsoever they listed. Even so shall the Son of man also suffer of them.
Matthew 17:13 Then understood the disciples that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.
Transfigured vs. Incarnated
REFERENCE SOURCES: Merriam-Webster (Wikipedia, Cambridge, and other references reflect similarly)
Transfigured: Is to change the appearance of something or someone
Incarnated: Literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient (or intellectual) creature (generally a human) that is the material manifestation of an entity, god, or force whose original nature is immaterial.
BIBLICAL SOURCES: (The Greek-Hebrew Lexicons: Strong’s, Brown-Driver-Briggs, etc.)
Incarnated: (This is not a Hebrew or Greek translated word, nor is it part of the Bible);
Transfigured: (Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:2) (from <G3326> (meta) and <G3445> (morphoo); to transform (literal or figurative “metamorphose”):- change, transfigure, transform. —Strong’s Greek & Hebrew Dictionary
How & Why Was Jesus Transfigured?
1. What actually happened to make Jesus’s appearance change?
a) Did Jesus literally morph (transfigure) himself into a glowing being under his own power or did something else occur during this encounter?
b) Was it the indwelling Spirit of God that was made visible to these three men (Peter, James, and John) in this spectacular manner (the glory of God’s presence)?
c) Was this some sort of alien invasion that caused radiation poisoning that made Jesus glow in the dark?
So, how can we, with a high degree of biblical supporting evidence, arrive at the correct answer? In order to prove our position we must ask ourselves another question:
2. Why did this transfiguration occur in the first place?
Was the transfiguration made visible to these three men (Peter, James, and John) so they would believe Jesus was God? No, not according to these passages.
The transfiguration was made visible to these three men (Peter, James, and John) so they would be witness able to confirm and convey to others:
1) Who and What Jesus was and is;
2) Who and What is Jesus’ Father;
3) Who these three men (Peter, James, and John) were to obey;
It was God, NOT Jesus, who performed these acts they witnessed:
1) It was God, NOT Jesus, who spoke from a cloud and confirmed (told them – Peter, James, and John) Jesus was HIS Son (Matthew 17:5) and he was indeed doing the will of God (with whom God was pleased); and
2) It was God, NOT Jesus, who gave these three men (Peter, James, and John) a command (God told them what to do) saying “hear ye him” (or listen to Jesus), which means they were to obey God’s will, as conveyed by or through Jesus.
What else do we know?
- Jesus had witnesses to this transfiguration
- The transfiguration was temporary
- Two other men (Moses and Elijah), who had been physically dead for hundreds of years, appeared during this event talking to Jesus.
The word tells us to establish the facts via witnesses (2 Corinthians 13:1). This passage of scripture names the witnesses as Peter, James, and John; but what exactly did they witness?
Apparently, these two visitors (Moses and Elijah) looked like “real” “living” men (if holding a conversation with Jesus) but as soon as these witnesses (Peter, James, and John) fell to the ground, Jesus told them to get up and the transfiguration was over and these visitors (Moses and Elijah) Jesus had been with only moments before suddenly vanished (gone) and Jesus was alone.
Numerous questions begin to surface as we read this passage of scripture. We know that ordinary humans cannot just appear and then vanish at will in an instant. During the life of Jesus on earth, both Moses and Elijah had been dead for hundreds of years, yet here they were speaking to him in front of witnesses. Where exactly were they just prior to this appearance with Jesus? We have to consider that the word of God tells us that no man has ascended to Heaven. So we can safely say that they were not sitting around in heaven before they materialized in front of these witnesses.
Jesus’ appearance also changed, so was he changed in his physical make-up or was it merely the spirit of God shining through him; as when God spoke through a burning bush or like when Moses shone when he came down from Mount Sinai? Exodus 34:29
If a man can not cause, by his own might, such a personal transfiguration as that which occurred with Jesus, then Jesus was transfigured by something other than his own humanity.
Could it be that it was God (or the indwelling of God’s Spirit., ie. the Holy Ghost, Acts 10:38) which cause this mystical transfiguration? Of course, it could.
This was not an incarnation of God into Jesus, but a manifestation of God working through Jesus in a miraculous manner.
During this mountaintop transfiguration episode, there are several other issues you are going to have to be able to explain.
Q1. Did they see the actual resurrected bodies of these two men (Moses and Elias)? Were these men’s (Moses and Elias) souls (their human soul/spirit) somehow reunited with their flesh (earthly dust) bodies, making them actual living beings again?
Q.2 Did these two men possibly come down from Heaven, possibly on their own accord just stopping by to have a chat with Jesus?
Therefore, if Moses and Elias are not indicated as coming down from heaven or being resurrected up from the ground (dead) then by what means created their appearance?
What these men actually witnessed was what the bible calls a “vision” that was created by God.
If you read this passage very carefully, the disciples never indicate that they actually heard any of these men (Moses and Elias) speaking to Jesus. Take note of (verse 3) and note the word “appeared“; what is indicated is that they were looking at what appeared to be a conversation taking place between Jesus, Moses, and Elias.
The next voice that is reflected as being heard was that of God speaking from heaven (v5) and God told them “This is my beloved Son, (referring to Jesus) in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” Matthew 17:5 (KJV)
But it is verse nine in which Jesus himself confirms that what they witnessed was a vision.
Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man is risen again from the dead. Matt 17:9 (KJV)
In fact, when referring to Elias they realized that Jesus was actually speaking of John the Baptist. (Matthew 17:10 – 13)
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