Peter's confession at Caesarea Philippi, along with Jesus' first prediction of his death and resurrection and teaching on cross-bearing discipleship, is followed some eight days later by Jesus' transfiguration. The transfiguration gives us an insight into the nature of Christ's messiahship and future glory.
v28. Mark tells us that the transfiguration is six days after the events at Caesarea Philippi, while Luke says it is eight days later. Luke's eight is highly symbolic. As with many resurrection appearances, 24:1, 13, 33, eight days symbolizes entrance into a new age, a new creation following the seventh day of God's rest. Only the inner circle of Jesus' disciples witness this significant event, and even they fail to understand it.
v29. Jesus' glowing face and clothes serve as the first allusion to Daniel's visions and the theophany on Mount Sinai.
v30. Two witnesses confirm the truth of the event, as on the day of resurrection, 24:4. What more trustworthy witnesses are there than Moses and Elijah?
v31. Jesus and his witnesses discuss his departure (his exodus) at Jerusalem. Again, this is a highly symbolic reference to Israel's Exodus and implies that Jesus, through his death and resurrection, is about to deliver God's people from their bondage of sin and death and usher them into the glory of the new age to come.
v32. The disciples gain a glimpse of the glory of the new age as Jesus is transfigured before their very eyes. The new age, the coming kingdom, is often described as glorious. This glory is witnessed in Jesus' resurrection, 24:26, 1Pet.1:21, and is promised for the parousia, the day of Christ's return, 9:26, Rom.8:18f.
v33. Peter is right in wanting to mark this glorious moment by building a "booth", a temporary shelter. God was present with his people during their wilderness wanderings, and in the yearly feast of "booths" the people of Israel commemorate this presence and look toward the end-time when God would again be present with his people. In Jesus' radiance, the disciples witness this divine presence. Yet, Peter is wrong in wanting to build three "booths". The divine presence is in Jesus, not in the two witnesses.
v34. The cloud of God's Shekinah glory confirms the divine presence and further relates the incident to Daniel's vision and the Mount Sinai theophany.
v35. A divine word corrects Peter's mistake. Jesus is not to be compared with Moses and Elijah. Jesus is the divine "Son", the "chosen" one, the "elect" one, and therefore, the disciples should "listen to him." The divine word declares Jesus as the royal Son of God, the messianic servant and the eschatological prophet like Moses, Deut.18:15. It is to Jesus the disciples must submit.
v36. All this is a bit too much for the disciples and so they decide to remain quiet.
Life should be enjoyed, not denied, or if you like, "don't worry, be happy." God's creation is ours to appreciate and in the Western world we have a greater chance than most to appreciate it. Yet, the enjoyment of life is not an end in itself, it's just the froth on the top of the coffee.
There is a sense where it is now five minutes to twelve. We live at the end of time, the last hour, the seventh day. If we were present that day on the Mount of Transfiguration when "the appearance of Jesus' face changed", we would have tasted something of the twelfth hour, the eighth day, the day of coming glory. Even now we are freed from our Egyptian bondage, the bondage of sin and death. We await the day of coming glory, the day when Jesus will return as the coming king, the Lord of the universe. In that day we will stand with God's glorious Son; he will be with us and we will be with him, and his glory will transform us, radiate us as it did Moses on the mountain.
Meanwhile, we must get on with life and set an appropriate focus. There is many an Elijah or Moses to divide our loyalties, but in the end, it is Jesus we must "listen" to; he must be our focus, our Lord. Through his word, read, expounded, studied..... we can take up his life-giving truth and experience its transforming power, preparing us for our reign with Christ in eternity. Therefore, like those disciples of long ago, let us "listen to him."
1. What is the significance of "eight days" v28, "two men" v30, "departure" v31, "glory" v32, "three shelters" v33, "cloud" v34?
2. Identify all the "exodus" symbols in the passage.
3. What is Jesus' "exodus"?
4. How are we to "listen to him"?