Luke 9:28-36: The Transfiguration
The transfiguration is one of the most important Christological events in the Bible.1 It establishes the identity of Christ as the Messiah and the divine Son, and the nature of the mission that He had come to accomplish. It is a repeat and an expansion on what the baptism of Christ has already revealed. The transfiguration brings to a climactic crescendo a number of OT themes pointing to Christ. The transfiguration reveals Jesus to be the new Moses who ascends the mountain entering the glory-cloud, but instead of receiving the word of the law Jesus is the final word of God. He is the new Moses who ascends the mountain into the cloud to receive the architectural designs for the New Temple the Church. Where the first Moses descended the mountain and failed to lead God’s people into the promise Christ will lead His people to the promised land. In the OT no one could see God’s face and live, there were many glorious manifestations of God’s glory where some saw God’s back, or a representative called the Angel of the Lord, or a vision of God from the waist down. All of these were pre-incarnate manifestations of Christ and now Christ’s true glory as He reveals the Father’s glory is manifested and seen. All of this and more comes to us through this momentous event we know as the transfiguration. The word transfiguration is the English translation of the Greek word ‘metemorphothe’ in Matt. 17:2.
We are in that portion of Luke’s gospel which is exploring the identity of Christ. When Jesus calmed the storm the disciples wondered who Jesus was; the demons gave a startling testimony to His identity; Herod asked questions about His identity, the crowds speculated on His identity all leading to Peter’s confession that was soon followed by the revelation that the Son of Man must die, and His disciples suffer. We have heard all sorts of theories and even the truth, we will now see Christ’s glory unveiled and hear the testimony of the Father about who Jesus really is. We will look at our portion under three headings, the glory revealed; the glory misunderstood; and the glory confirmed.