One can only imagine what the transfiguration of Jesus was like (Mark 9:2-10; Luke 9:28-36). That word “transfigured” in Greek is metamorfoo and means transformed. Jesus was literally transformed! To be sure it was a remarkable event that both astonished and terrified Peter, John, and James, the three apostles who were there. The setting is a high mountain. Suddenly, Jesus is changed! He actually glows in His blinding white raiment. The Amplified describes Jesus’ garments as “flashing with the brilliance of lightening.” And if that weren’t enough, Moses and Elijah appear and begin speaking with Jesus. But what exactly did they talk about? Well, nothing less than Jesus’ approaching death in Jerusalem.
Peter, ever impetuous, immediately suggests they build three booths. The Bible says he suggests this because he doesn’t know what else to say. Peter is apparently dumbfounded and seems to blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. But it’s interesting that his words are recorded since I’m sure it’s not the only time Peter has spoken rash words which were never recorded.
The next thing that happens is the appearance of a cloud that overshadows them all and a voice coming from the cloud saying, “this is my beloved Son: hear him.” It’s the same voice and the same pronouncement John the Baptist heard after baptizing Jesus in the Jordan. Then the cloud lifts, Moses and Elijah disappear, and Jesus resumes His former appearance, then commands His three disciples not to tell anyone what they saw until “the Son of man were risen from the dead.” Now the apostles are really confused and keep asking each other what “rising from the dead should mean.” It will be much later before they understand it all.
Oh, there is so much to glean from these passages! The “high mountain” where this entire scenario takes place is believed by many to be Mount Tabor, but some believe it’s Mount Hermon. I think the latter choice is the most reasonable since it is five times higher than Mt. Tabor and since Mt. Hermon is the place many Bible scholars believe Satan and his fallen angels descended to earth. What better place for the transfiguration to occur since it is a foreshadowing of Jesus’ second coming? It is the place where the three apostles get a glimpse of Jesus as God, Conqueror and King. It is the place where lawgiver (Moses), prophet (Elijah), and Messiah (Jesus) meet to discuss the reclaiming of fallen earth by the approaching death of Jesus, and through the shedding of His blood gain our freedom from Satan’s control! In essence Jesus was proclaiming Satan’s defeat on the very spot where Satan began his conquest of earth! And it is Jesus who both fulfills the law and the prophets. And many Bible scholars believe that it is Moses and Elijah who are the two witnesses of Revelation who will announce the coming of Jesus’ kingdom during the Tribulation.
And I don’t think Peter’s statement was foolish either. Though he may not have understood what he was saying, I believe his words were recorded for a reason. The three booths he wanted to build speak of the Feast of Tabernacles (or Feast of Booths), the feast that symbolizes the time when God will tabernacle with His people forever. This only occurs after the tribulation, when Jesus sets up his earthly kingdom and resides in the Temple of Jerusalem. Considering all of the above, I see the transfiguration as a foreshadowing of Jesus’ return in glory at the end of this present age. And what a wonderful sight it will be!
“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8).
Until next time,