Bible Insights in 500 words
The Mystical and Amazing Work of God
Matthew 16:13-17, 17:5
Richard Leslie Parrott, Ph.D.
The Transfiguration is an extraordinary incident found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Many scholars believe that Jesus would have taken his closest disciples, Peter, James, and John, on a retreat up Mount Herman (rather than the traditional site of Mount Tabor). Mount Herman is close to Caesarea Philippi, which is the location of the conversation that precedes the retreat to the mountain. In that conversation, Peter makes a grand declaration – Jesus really is the Messiah, the one sent from God to establish the Kingdom forever (Matthew 16:13-17).
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.
Now, Jesus will show his closest disciples what God is doing. From Mount Herman you get a stunning view of Galilee spread out before you. However, Jesus wants to give his disciples a vision of the future, God’s future for human beings.
I remember an experience when a wonderful man from our church invited several boys in the church Boy Scout troop to join him in his backyard. He had a large and sophisticated telescope. Once you peered through it into the heavens, you could not see the stars the same again.
In the gospel, up to this point, Jesus has been teaching and displaying through his miracles the whole realm of God’s rule. He was explaining that the world is much larger, more intimate, and more glorious than they could imagine. Why? The kingdom of God has come (Matthew 4:17).
Jesus began to preach,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
This is a strange story – Jesus is transfigured into light and two heroes of the faith, Moses and Elijah, long departed, appear and join him in conversation. Finally, a voice speaks out of the cloud; it is the voice of God (Matthew 17:5).
“This is my Son, whom I love;
with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
The strangeness of the story brings credibility of the event. This really happened. There have been moments across the centuries in which people have reported extraordinary spiritual events, events that took them from the realm of physical earth into the realm of heaven.
Are we willing to accept the movements of God that are beyond our understanding? There are things mystical and amazing in the work and wisdom of the Creator. Are we willing to give our hearts to what we cannot always understand with our minds?