Now Jesus and the disciples were at Caesarea Philippi which is near Mount Hermon but church tradition has established Mt.
Tabor as the mount of Transfiguration, although Mt. Tabor is a good six days journey from Caesarea Philippi if you don't
tarry along the way.
The best explanation I have heard for this discrepancy is from Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa: Now in years
to come when they sought to establish the Holy Land as a tourist attraction for Christians from throughout the world, in
establishing where the holy sights were, that is where the events actually happened, most of the holy sights were established
by the mother of Constantine some three hundred years, plus or minus, after Jesus was crucified. And she established the holy
sights by her feelings when she stood in a spot, "oh, this feels like the spot where He must have been born. I feel an
interesting sensation. Surely this must be the cave where He was born. Or this must be the place where the angel announced to
Mary that she was going to conceive and have a child. This must be the place where He lived." And she went around the country
establishing these holy sights, and they began to build churches on these holy sights to commemorate these places where
Jesus supposedly did these various things.
In her establishing of the holy sights it's obvious that she wasn't too familiar with the scriptures. And it's also obvious
that they wanted to make it convenient for tourists. So they established the sight of the transfiguration on Mount Tabor,
which is sort of in the middle of the land near the Sea of Galilee, and in the area of the Valley of Megiddo. They said
that's where Jesus was transfigured, so they would have an excuse to build a huge church on the top of Mount Tabor. And after
all, how many tourists are going to journey all the way up to Mount Hermon to see the place where He was transfigured.
2And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun and his raiment was
white as the light.
The word transfigured comes from the verb 'metamorphoo'. We get the English word Metamorphosis from it. I remember in school
watching a film of a caterpillar building a cocoon and through the magic of time lapse photography seeing a beautiful
butterfly emerge. It has gone through a metamorphosis, a complete change of form. By using this word the writers are making
the point that Jesus didn't just change superficially but made a substantial transformation of His whole being.
Luke 9:29 KJV 29and as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and
What the disciples were seeing was His true divine nature as God revealed it through his human nature. He didn't just
take on a glow on the outside but changed from the inside out.
2 Peter 1:16 Peter says in best: 16For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power
and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
3And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.
Now we have more scripture being fulfilled in the sight of Peter, James and John. Standing in front of them is Moses the
lawgiver who has been dead for 1451 years and Elijah the greatest prophet, who has been gone for 896 years. Here they stand
talking with the Saviour who had said he would not pass away until all the law and the prophets were fulfilled. Most believe
that Moses represents the 'dead in Christ' and Elijah represents the 'raptured saints' since Elijah never tasted death but
was raptured or translated to heaven.
1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 KJV 15For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto
the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God:
and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air:
and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
We are not told the whole conversation that took place there on the mountain with the Lord, Moses and Elijah but in Luke's
gospel we are given the essential of what the conversation was: Luke 9:31 KJV 'Who appeared in glory, and spake of his
decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.
4Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here:
if thou wilt, let us make here three
tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
I think the fact that the disciples knew immediately who Moses and Elijah were, although both had been gone for a very long
time, proves we will know and be known in heaven even by those we have never seen.
In verse four we find Peter being Peter, like a lot of us saying something just to say something without first stopping to
think which brings about a very unexpected and unlooked for response --- 5While he yet spake, behold,
a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased;
hear ye him.
This is no ordinary cloud, this is the Shekinah glory cloud that has marked the presence of God throughout the ages, we find
it in Exodus 24, 34, 40, Numbers 10, and Kings 8 to name some scriptures and out of it comes the voice of God. There is no
doubt in any mind who God is talking about and giving authority to and approval of the plan to go to Jerusalem, but don't
miss the command of the last three words: 'hear ye Him'
- it is Christ who is to be heard and obeyed!
Peter later referred to the event in 2 Peter 1:18
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known
unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is
my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.
What a glorious experience the three disciples had on that mountain top! Mountain top experiences are what each and every
child of God should strive for as they learn to develop their faith and walk with the Saviour. Don't be led astray by
the world but come boldly before the throne of grace and tell your Father the mountain top experience is the only
experience you will be satisfied with, you have come to serve and bring glory to your Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
Bob Goulding © September 2006