Seeing Glory (Matthew 17:1-3)

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

Matthew is telling us his account of an event we know as the Transfiguration.  “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.”

Obviously, James, Peter and John (the disciples who were with Jesus) could not have known what Moses or Elijah looked like – both Biblical figures had been dead for many generations. Yet without introduction, the disciples know who is with Jesus. The visual of both Moses and Elijah standing there with them would’ve recalled to their minds the closing words of the Old Testament; “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel. See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

Not only that, but Moses – more than all the people of the Old Testament – is the embodiment of the written word of God. It was Moses who wrote the Pentateuch, after all. It was Moses who delivered the people of God from the hands of their oppressor (Egypt). It was Moses who ‘baptized’ the people by leading them through the Red Sea to the promised land, and it was Moses who was buried by the hand of God. 

Elijah – more than all the people of the Old Testament – is the embodiment of the prophetic voice of God. It was Elijah who prophesied the drought and who prayed into existence the subsequent rain. It was Elijah who raised the dead. It was Elijah that called the nation back to God and who defeated the prophets of Baal. It was Elijah that called fire down from heaven on the servants of the wicked king, and it was Elijah that was called up to heaven before the eyes of his disciple. 

One can easily see how Jesus is the fulfillment of both the written Word and the spoken Word. Just as He Himself had testified, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Now – at the top of the mountain and in a dramatic visual of that exact fulfillment – both Moses and Elijah appear with the transfigured Jesus. A starker reminder of just who Jesus is could not be imagined, and the event is just getting started!

There are times when even the closest disciple needs to be reminded of the wonder of the written Word of God, the power of the Spoken Word, and the glory of Jesus the Messiah.  


Whether in pre-incarnate theophanies or visions or incarnate revelations, Christ is ever the only visible manifestation of God. Seeing Christ is seeing God, and failing to see Christ renders any attempt to see God in any other way hopeless. True worship is always in terms of the Son.

Michael P.V. Barrett


How can we not fall in awe before Christ and worship Him?