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The Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8)

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The Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8)



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The Transfiguration

Matthew 17:1-8 (Pastor Heo)

The Transfiguration

17:1-8pp — Lk 9:28-36 17:1-13pp — Mk 9:2-13

1 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John1 the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. 4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters–one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.2 Listen to him!”3 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.”4 8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.


Moses, Elijah left them. Jesus alone is left with them. Also in our lives, many people come and go, but the FINAL one we will be left with is only Jesus Christ.

Do you believe in Christ? Do you have assurance that Jesus believes that you believe in Him?

One of the proofs of this (that I’m a child of God) is to know our own identity in Christ in this world.

I collected our identity in Christ in the Bible:

27 sentences from the NT:

Hang this on your wall:

  1. I’m salt of the earth
  2. I’m the light of the world
  3. child of God
  4. branch of the true vine
  5. friend of Christ
  6. Christ disciple
  7. witness of Christ
  8. slave of righteousness
  9. co-heir with Christ
  10. temple of the Holy Spirit
  11. one spirit united with Christ
  12. member of the body of Christ
  13. aroma of Christ
  14. new creation
  15. ambassdor of Christ
  16. spiritual soldier
  17. Saint
  18. Holy person
  19. Righteous by faith
  20. died to sin, alive to righteousness
  21. citizen of heaven
  22. son of light
  23. stranger, alien in this world
  24. pilgrim to eternity
  25. enemy of Satan
  26. bride of Christ
  27. will be like Christ
  28. will share Christ’s glory eternally and reign with Him

Is this you? May God bless us to be like this.

Today is the “Transfiguration.”

This is one of the great 5 events of Jesus’ earthly ministry.

  1. Incarnation
  2. Death
  3. Resurrection
  4. Ascension
  5. Transfiguration

Let us all be blessed through this wonderful story.

There are many lessons we can get, so let’s look at 5 for application in our daily lives:

#1: (v.1) Jesus selected ONLY 3 people to join him (Peter, James, John)

Of course, he had many followers at that time (70 united, 12 were the apostles, among them 3 were his inner circle) This means that Peter, James, and John are the core, the heart of the 12.

In the Bible, there are at least 3 times that Jesus chose these 3 to join him.

  1. Luke 8 – When Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from death. He brought 12 disciples to the house, but chose only the 3 to go in with him.
  2. Before his crucifixion, he took all the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemene – and took only the 3 with him deeper into the Garden. He told them honestly, “My heart is troubled with sorrow to the point of death. Keep watch with men.”
  3. This event – the Transfiguration

What is the common key among all these events?

Here, we see Moses and Elijah appeared – we don’t know what they talked about. but in Luke 9, they talked with Jesus about his departure – he was about to bring this to fulfillment in Jerusalem. They talked with Jesus about his death – his crucifixion.

The common key = about his death.

What does this mean today?

Yes, if we are truly Christians, we are chosen.

  • 1 Peter 2:9 “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood… so that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness…”
  • Eph 1:4-5 “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”

Jesus: “You didn’t choose me, I chose you.”

But, today, who is the inner-circle of the Christians? Who is the heart of the Christians? Pastors? Elders? Deacons? Cell leaders? NO.

The preacher of the gospel of salvation, the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

#2: (v. 1) He led them UP a high mountain by themselves.

This story doesn’t say the name of the mountain – but it may be Helma? mountain. 6 days after the event in Philippi this happened.

Spiritually, this means, a mountain is higher than the ground – this is a set apart, separate place.

Exodus 3: One day when Moses was tending his Father-in-law’s flock, (he always came there) God appeared to Moses and called “Moses!” he said, “Here I am!” God said, “Take off your shoes, the place you are standing is holy ground.”

Humanly speaking, that was not a holy place, it was a very familiar place – he was even here yesterday. But God said, “The place you are standing is a holy place, holy ground.” What does this mean? Why does God call an ordinary place a “holy place”? Because HE appears there with a holy MISSION to redeem His people out of slavery.

How can we apply this to our lives?

Where are you most? Where do you spend most of your time? If, spiritually, you can recognize the presence of the holy God upon you with a holy mission, holy purpose, then the very place you are standing is a holy place.

1 Corinthians “Don’t you know that you yourselves are the temple of the holy God?” We are a walking, living temple of the holy God. So WHEREVER you put your feet is holy ground.

#3: (v. 2) “Transfiguration”

“There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light.”

According to the record of the Bible, THIS is the only time that God revealed his glory – Jesus showed his glory in this way while in this world.

The English word = “metamorphosis” (a change on the inside that comes from inside) – Ex. When a caterpillar builds a cocoon and later emerges as a butterfly. A process of metamorphosis radiated Jesus’ glory from the inside as he allowed his essential glory to shine forth.

  • Heb 1:3 “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of God’s existence.”
  • Exodus: After Moses came down from the Mt. with the 10 commandments, his face SHONE – because he had talked with God.
  • 2 Corinthians “We who with unveiled faces of God’s glory are being transfigured as more of his glory is revealed…”

“Those God knew he also predestined… that Christ might be the firstborn of many brothers.”

Yes, we are a new creation in Christ – we have a new birth, position, standing, status. We are transforming, being transfigured into the likeness and image of Jesus Christ. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds… until you attain the FULL measure of Christ.” (Romans 12:2-3)

#4: The voice of God (v. 5)

When Jesus was baptized by JB at the Jordan river, this same voice (with the same words almost) came from the clouds about Jesus. God gave Jesus the authority.

What kind of cloud was this? A bright cloud.

It was not a vapor, but it was in fact, the GLORY of God. This was the SAME cloud that appeared to the people of Israel in the desert and appeared to Moses, and filled the temple with the glory of God.

God is giving his oral approval of his Son, Jesus. He is identifying him as the promised Messiah. “Hearing” isn’t only “listening” but also “obeying.” Even until now, Jesus is with you and like this for you.

Matthew 28 “Behold, I am WITH YOU always, to the very end of the age.”

How can we realize and recognize this? By/in His Word. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…” (John 1:1)

  • Romans 10 “Do not say in your hearts, ‘Who will go to heaven to bring Christ down? Who will go to the depths to bring Christ up?’” Please remember that Jesus is WITH YOU always.
  • Colossians 3:16 “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.”

There is a time for everything (a time to be born, a time to die – Ecclesiastes 3). Between these two times, there are suitable/proper times for EVERYTHING (a time to study, a time to play, a time to go, a time to stop, a time to speak, a time to listen). At this moment, Peter spoke and said, “Let me… DO SOMETHING” But what about this situation? Here is MOSES and ELIJAH talking with Jesus about his death. And God said, “LISTEN to Him.” For Peter, this was a time to LISTEN, worship, adore, medicate, contemplation.

  1. We must listen to Christ IN the church, but SPEAK of him in the world.
  2. We must know Christ in the church, but MAKE him known in the world.

#5: (v. 8) NO ONE except Jesus Christ

In this life, we look for many people, many persons, we see many things – but when we stand before God face-to-face, there is only ONE thing we will see: Jesus.

  1. Yes, Moses (representing the LAW) appeared.
  2. Yes, Elijah (representing the PROPHETS) appeared.

All of the LAW and the PROPHETS shadow and point to JESUS and are fulfilled IN JESUS.

Yes, those two are very important, but they are merely shadows/types of Jesus. Jesus alone is THE Reality. All others are only shadows and types.

Another mistake of Peter = If Abraham and David had appeared as well, he would have offered the same thing.

No, no one can be compared to Jesus. No one can be accepted as an object of worship. No one else can be our final example, the object of worship and praise.

Finally, the only ones that will remain forever and forever, permanently are Jesus Christ and those who are IN Jesus Christ and the things done FOR Jesus Christ.

Here’s a closing story.

Acts 8: The meeting of evangelist Philip and the eunuch from Ethiopia. Philip met him on the road only ONCE and after that they never met again – and the meeting was very brief. Also, their meeting was in the desert, not in a luxurious palace – it was outside, dusty, dirty, wild. Then, this meeting remains permanently meaningful and memorial. The question is: What made this particular meeting such a memorable and impactful meeting? It was the topic of conversation between them: the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ. That news made this one short, temporary meeting a permanently memorable event in the sight of God.

Let’s pray together.

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So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Listen
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