After 6 days, Jesus took with him Peter and and James and John his brother and led them up a high mountain by themselves.  And he was transfigured before them and his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.  And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.  

The Transfiguration of Christ as depicted by Raphael


This picture was painted by Raphael in between 1516 and 1520.  Whenever I read about this event in the book of Matthew, I think of this picture.  I am a visual person and having a picture helps me to understand what I am reading.  It gives me a sense of how overwhelming it was for Peter, James and John to see this miraculous event.  And yet Peter manages to get some thing right – “Lord it is right for us to be here.” But it is unclear from Scripture what he is thinking when he sees Moses and Elijah.

D.A. Carson puts it like this, “He thinks that Jesus is being elevated to their great stature, the stature of the mediator of the Sinai covenant and of the first of the great biblical prophets.  He is utterly mistaken.  Their presence signified, rather that the law and the prophets bore witness to him.”

Is that why God thunders from an enveloping cloud, “This is my beloved Son; with whom I am well pleased.  Listen to him!”  (Matthew 17:5).  With this, the disciples fell on their faces and were terrified.  Jesus comes, touches them and tells them to rise  and not to be afraid.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like, but Jesus is compassionate to them by answering their questions.  I wonder how many questions they still had after this experience.  I wonder how it fueled their faith.

Reading passages like t his make me long to be with Jesus, to see Him face to face and enjoy Him forever.