Transliteration

            Before we speak of the transliteration scene let us understand why we have four different gospels or views of the life of Christ and why we should study all of them, each one related to the other, to completely understand this most important event in the history of the human race.

            Four different men related the happenings in the life of Christ as each one, of these writers, recalled it from the memorable events.  These writings are known as the gospels or the first four books of the New Testament.  Often one writer remembered things about an event that the others did not mention or spoke of differently.  Nonetheless, this does not mean, or relate, any form of discrepancy, contradiction or difference of opinion.  It does however; show what each individual writer saw and felt about each event.  In other words what each mans mind focused on during any given incident.  An example of this was Peter’s effort of defense on the Mount of Olives, which was stopped by Christ at the time of his arrest. Matthew spoke only one verse concerning it: 

Matt 26:51

With that, one of Jesus' companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.  NIV

It was obviously not important to Matthew that it was Peter as opposed to any other apostle that did this.  Mark clearly felt the same and also devoted one verse:

Mark 14:46-47

Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. NIV

Matthew and Mark state it as a simple matter of fact but Luke who did the same also remembered that the apostles asked Christ if they should fight for him and spoke of it in two verses.

Luke 22:49-50

49 When Jesus' followers saw what was going to happen, they said, "Lord, should we strike with our swords?"

50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. NIV

Now Luke’s explanation could lead one to wonder if all the apostles had swords to challenge this mob and did they all draw swords to fight.  In fact one might ask why did any of the apostles have swords?  As it turns out there were two swords amongst them for they were told to bring them earlier by Jesus.

Luke 22:35-38

35 Then Jesus asked them, "When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?"

"Nothing," they answered.  

36 He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.

37 It is written: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors'; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment." 

38 The disciples said, "See, Lord, here are two swords."

"That is enough," he replied. NIV

            The swords they were being told to carry symbolized that now that Christ was about to leave them they would be required to stand on their own two feet and would have many battles to go through and they would have to fight them with the sword of truth.

But it was John who managed to state more of what happened during that moment of Peter’s swordplay.  John’s one verse on the subject clears it all up even bringing to light the name of the injured servant.

John 18:10

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.)

We also know from John’s next verse that Christ put an abrupt stop to it all.

John 18:11

Jesus commanded Peter, "Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?"  NIV

            Now because we have slightly different views by each of these writers describing this scene the results are that we, a couple of thousand years later, can get a very clear picture of the event.  Luke even tells us that Christ repaired the damaged ear.

Luke 22:51

But Jesus answered, "No more of this!" And he touched the man's ear and healed him. NIV 

            Is John and Luke telling us that Christ said two different things or that one recalls him saying something that the other didn’t recall.  Neither!  Luke simply expounded on the healing while John is noting that Christ acknowledged his heavenly Father first along with the reason they were there to begin with.  Let’s put the two different recollections together and see how it sounded at the time...

Jesus answered commanding Peter:

"Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?  No more of this!" And he touched the man's ear and healed him.  

The two writers are telling us Jesus spoke these words in this manner but John saw Christ’s spiritual relation to his father as being the most memorable, while Luke, being a doctor, was more impressed with Christ healing a severed ear of a wounded servant. 

As all this was going on Mark is taking note of something else that none of the others mention.

Mark 14:51-52

51 A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him,

52 he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.

            Another translation of the above scriptures makes it easier to understand as to what exactly took place here.

Mark 14:51-52

51 A young man was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen sheet over his naked body; and they seized him.

    52 But he pulled free of the linen sheet and escaped naked. NASU

The two scriptures above symbolize all those that followed Christ but were afraid to acknowledge him at that time.  They were all left spiritually naked while they abandoned Christ, for a Christian’s spirituality is equated in Revelation as being like one wearing white robes.

Rev 3:4-5

4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.

5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. NIV

Rev 3:17-18

17 You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Rev 7:9

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. NIV

Rev 7:13-14

13 Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes-who are they, and where did they come from?"

14 I answered, "Sir, you know."

And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. NIV

Rev 22:14

"Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. NIV

 

            So from the descriptions of the event told from four different writers with four different viewpoints we get one complete picture.  The sleepy apostles who had been waiting with Christ at the Mount of Olives are approached by a mob of armed men following Judas.  They all being armed, with clubs and swords by the way, explains Peter’s violent reaction in the beginning.  We know all this from the words of Christ.

Luke 22:52

52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, "Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? NIV 

Now Christ stopped the apostles from defending him because the time for his trial and death had arrived but there was also another more demanding reason for as he later told Pilate:

John 18:36

Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."  NIV

However, the point of all this is that even in the midst of this harrowing time of great stress and anguish for Jesus, Christ takes the time to display his teaching of love…by healing the injured servant of one of his enemies. 

            So it turns out that the different views are not there to be contrary perspectives but are meant as additive points of view that make up a more detailed and clearer picture.   Therefore with theses multifaceted viewpoints in mind let us look at the event of Christ being transfigured.

 

Transfiguration

 

NT:3339

metamorphoo (met-am-or-fo'-o); from NT:3326 and NT:3445; to transform (literally or figuratively, "metamorphose"):

That Christ was transfigured is spoken of by three of the four gospels.  It is stated in Matthew chapter 17, Mark chapter 9 and also in chapter 9 of the book of Luke. 

Matt 17:1-9

1 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.

2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.

3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

4 Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters-one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah."

5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!"

6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified.

7 But Jesus came and touched them. "Get up," he said. "Don't be afraid." 

8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, "Don't tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead." NIV

In the description of this event, which on the surface appears to be strange, two persons of Biblical fame, other than Christ are mentioned; they are Moses and Elijah.  Since the New Testament is mainly about the salvation and institution, through Christ, of a new covenant for a heavenly kingdom why has God called our attention to these two men from the old covenant?  He does so because Moses typified or represented Christ as a lawgiver and a man who also stood in the presence of the Almighty along with Elijah as who represents one who was raised to life or ascended to heaven.

As to the discussion by many religions that Elijah was returned to earth, after he had been carried to heaven in a fiery chariot lets see if that was what Elisha, Elijah's son, had to say to the fifty prophets that had come to see that event along with him at that time.

2 Kings 2:15-18

15 The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, "The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha." And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him.

16 "Look," they said, "we your servants have fifty able men. Let them go and look for your master. Perhaps the Spirit of the LORD has picked him up and set him down on some mountain or in some valley."

"No," Elisha replied, "do not send them."                        

17 But they persisted until he was too ashamed to refuse. So he said, "Send them." And they sent fifty men, who searched for three days but did not find him.

18 When they returned to Elisha, who was staying in Jericho, he said to them, "Didn't I tell you not to go?" NIV)

            Elisha told them not to go because he knew that Elijah was taken and would not be returned to the earth.  He knew this because he knew Elijah’s faith.  He knew also that it was:

Heb 11:5

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. NIV

There is nothing in the Bible that says either Elijah or Enoch came back to earth and died later.  In fact, as shown above, there are scriptures that deny this theory. However, religions make an attempt to refute the above with the use of the following scripture:

Heb 9:27

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: KJV

            The above seems clear enough except that Paul is not saying that all men have to die forever, instead he is telling us that all men in this world controlled by Satan have to die.  If you doubt this, note the following scripture that is speaking on the very same subject by the very same man…Paul

1 Cor 15:51

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed- NIV

            In Hebrews Paul seems to be saying that all men have to die but in 1 Corinthians Paul is telling us this is not so.  Paul is clearly saying that not everyone will die.   Now if one of these scriptures is wrong, and the two scriptures are very obviously diametrically opposed, then we can throw away the Bible for we have no way of deciphering truth from fiction.  To make it even more confusing so-called Christian religions tell you that you have an immortal soul that cannot die.  It might also be pointed out that many have been resurrected through the ages.  Elijah brought back a child Christ raised Lazarus, So did Paul and Peter bring back people from the dead.  In fact all people are scheduled by God to be resurrected.

Rev 20:5-6

5(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.

6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. NIV 

Rev 21:8

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars-their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." NIV

Fortunately the Bible does not depend on just one scripture to make doctrine.  It relies on its complete writings to give us complete explanations of anything that is postulated on in the word of God, so that all scriptures can be shown to harmonize one with the other even two that seem so opposed as Heb 9:27 and Corinthians 15:51.   The question here is if man is only to die once why are we being warned about a second death?  Paul has made the statement about all men dying once because he is talking about sinners in a sinful world which will be changed by God when the time for that comes which will take away that death penalty for all mankind.  The people of the earth die today because God cursed the earth as part of the punishment to Adam.

Gen 3:17-19

17 To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life

18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 

19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." NIV

    But in the future we are told that curse will be lifted by God.

Rev 22:3

And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: KJV

 What has all this to do with the Christ being transfigured?  Nothing but it shows that all the Bible is needed to explain a topic or to understand what God is telling us.  We can't just pick and choose scriptures here and there that we like as if we were given scripture to vote on.  Among other things the subject of the transfigured Christ shows this.  Therefore let us start from the beginning of it.

Matt 17:1

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. NIV

            This was six days after Christ feed the multitude with five loaves of bread and two fishes.  Luke refers to it as about 8 days later but it is clear, from the use of the word “About”, that Luke does not recall the exact amount of time that had passed.  Or perhaps he just did not feel that the time that had passed was important enough to be concerned over, as indeed it wasn’t.  Nor are we told why these three apostles were chosen but it can be noted that they were the same three apostles Christ took with him at Gethsemane when he went to pray.

Mark 14:32-33

32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray."

(He said this to all twelve, but then:) 

33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. NIV

The exact place where Christ was transfigured is not mentioned but the traditional belief is that it was Mount Tabor in Galilee.  Whether this is so or not is of little importance but that it occurred in an isolated place was not at all strange because Christ often chose mountains or deserts to pray in.  He apparently preferred the solitude these places offered perhaps because he knew people requesting healing would not interrupt him.  However, just as we are told at the beginning of this event Christ being transfigured is related to something that had happened during a private time roughly a week earlier when the following question was asked.

Luke 9:18-19

18 Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say I am?" 

19 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life." NIV

Now, roughly a week later the Almighty Himself gives an undeniable answer to this question by highlighting His only begotten Son.

Matt 17:2

2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. NIV

Interestingly Moses, who appears in this peculiar event, also had this facial transfigured experience during his own lifetime. 

Ex 34:29-35

29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tables of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.

30 And when Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.

31 But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them.

32 And afterward all the people of Israel came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in Mount Sinai.

33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face;

34 but whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the people of Israel what he was commanded,

35 the people of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone; and Moses would put the veil upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him. RSV

Why was the above true of Moses?  Because Moses had returned from receiving the tablets of the law written by the Almighty’s own hand and during that time on the mountain Moses was told:

Ex 33:21-23

21 Then the LORD said, "There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.

23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen." NIV

Ex 31:18

And he gave to Moses, when he had made an end of speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, the two tables of the testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God. RSV 

            Now even though Moses had witnessed the presence of God on the mountain as a shadow compared to Christ who was with God from the beginning, the glory of God was reflected from Moses face causing it to shine brightly.  So much so that Aaron, his brother, along with the rest of the Israelites were struck with fear and awe and ran away from him. Notice in verse 29 of Ex 34 above that Moses did not know that his face shone.  In fact as we learn from the verses in chapter 34 Moses had to wear a veil because the Glory of God that shone from his face was unsettling to the Israelites. 

There is something else about all this that we should be aware of.  The word translated "Shine" is closely connected with a word translated "Horn"; and hence, the Latin version and others have rendered the verb "To be horned." From this rendering of the word has arisen the popular representation of Moses with horns on his forehead; there is even a statue in Rome made by Michael Angelo to this effect.  Now there were four horns on the altar in the temple and they represented salvation.  In Revelation when we first see Christ we see him as a lamb with seven horns and seven eyes.

Rev 5:6

6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. NIV

Since the Hebrew use of the word seven represents anything perfect we have Christ, with seven horns, symbolizing the perfect salvation through the seven spirits or perfect power, which we know as the Holy Spirit of God Almighty.

Now just like Moses this same glorious shining face came upon Christ at the transfiguration.

Matt 17:2

2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.

            With Moses his face shown but with Christ not only his face but the very cloths he wore “Became as white as light” and as we have already pointed out white robes represent a purity or perfect spirituality.  Mark says

Mark 9:3

His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. NIV

While Luke says:

Luke 9:29

As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. NIV

Now the transfiguration continues with:

Matt 17:3

Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

 

To understand verse three above lets go back to the question that predicated all this. Christ asked in:

Luke 9:18

“…Who do the crowds say I am?”

19 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life."

John the Baptist was born six months before Christ so he was alive at the same time Christ was therefore it is obvious Christ is not John the Baptist for they were seen together when Christ was baptized by John.  John the Baptist had recently been beheaded by Herod but the transfiguration is speaking of not John the Baptist but that Christ is there and Elijah is there along with one of the prophets of long ago, Moses.  In fact, the cast in this peculiar event is repeated in the next verse of Matthew 17:

4 Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters-one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah."  

But suddenly out of the blue comes the explanation of all this from God Almighty himself.

Matt 17:5-6

5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!"

6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. NIV

Luke says:

Luke 9:34

34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.

They were terrified because it was obvious to them it was not Christ doing this.  That it was God Almighty Himself that was speaking to them while they were inside that cloud of power.  (Look up the word cloud in a concordance and all the scriptures connected to that word relate to power.) 

Matt 17:7-8

7 But Jesus came and touched them. "Get up," he said. "Don't be afraid." 

8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. NIV

The next thing Christ said to them helps to clear this whole event up

Matt 17:9

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, "Don't tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."  NIV

And we are told by:

Luke 9:35

 36 When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen. NIV

            Since it was getting near the time for Christ to be killed that was the subject the three, Christ, Elijah and Moses spoke about.

Luke 9:30-31

30 Two men, Moses and Elijah,

31 appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. NIV

It is not important to this event to know the details of the conversation of the three above for the culmination of that is well documented in the Bible.  The main and important thing here is that God Almighty, for the second time, has made a clear irrefutable identification of Jesus as His only begotten Son to all mankind.  

There is one other thing that is noticeable about the event of the transfiguration of Christ.  When Peter suggested that a shelter, or tent should be erected on the site for Christ, Elijah and Moses the scriptures point out that Peter was rambling.  Luke in verse 33 tells us (“…he did not know what he was saying”) Mark explains it:

Mark 9:6

“…(He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)”

            Now the question is why is God Himself speaking these words?  The Almighty is doing so to make it clear to all that Jesus is not John the Baptist.  Jesus is not Elijah!  Jesus is not Moses or any other prophet of old for we are told in no uncertain terms by the creator himself "This is my Son,” We are being told in as plainly as possile, don’t confuse him with anyone else…”This is my Son”

Can it get any plainer than that?  We are also informed that not only does God love His only begotten Son and is pleased with His only begotten Son but also we are directed to “HEAR HIM!”  That is not a request folks that is an outright command straight from the mouth of the creator of the universe. 

            Its no wonder the apostles were frightened, anyone with good sense would be afraid not to listen, which includes those of us today, almost two thousand years later. 

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