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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: What Was the Significance of Jesus' Transfiguration?

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Don Stewart

The Transfiguration was the glorification of the human body of Jesus. On this occasion His body underwent a change in form, a metamorphosis, so that it shone as brightly as the sun. At the time of the Transfiguration, Jesus' earthly ministry was coming to a close. He had acknowledged that He was the Messiah and predicted His death and resurrection. Now He was to reveal, to a select few, His divine glory.

The Bible gives this account:

Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother brought them up on a high mountain by themselves, and was transfigured before them. his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with him . . . A bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear him!' And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, 'Arise, and do not be afraid.' And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only (Matthew 17:1-3,5-8).

Jesus told Peter, James, and John not to tell anyone about this until after He had risen from the dead.

Years Later Peter Recalled The Event

Some years later Simon Peter would write of this event:

For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to 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 such a voice came to him from the excellent glory: 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain (2 Peter 1:16-18).

Jesus Is The Son Of God

The Transfiguration provides further evidence that Jesus was the divine Son of God. It is not coincidental that this happened soon after Jesus had acknowledged Himself to be the Christ, the one who left heaven's glory to come to earth. Now three of His disciples were to get a glimpse of that glory.

The appearance of Moses and Elijah with Jesus is highly significant. The name Moses was equated with the Old Testament law that God had given to the people. Jesus came and fulfilled the commandments of the law and did the things the law could not do, that is, to provide an answer for the problem of sin. The law pointed out the problem; Jesus gave the solution.

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).

Elijah was an outstanding figure in the Old Testament. He was a great prophet and his appearance with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration testified that Jesus fulfilled the prophets, as well as the law.

The voice of God the Father gave further confirmation of the calling and Sonship of Jesus. He acknowledged that Jesus had pleased Him in the things He had said and done.

It Represented His Coming Kingdom

The Transfiguration scene of Jesus is a representation of His coming kingdom in its fullness. Jesus Himself said to His disciples.

I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom (Matthew 16:28).

The Transfiguration occurred with Jesus and three of His disciples - Peter, James, and John. Moses and Elijah miraculously appeared with Jesus. At the foot of the mountain were the remainder of Jesus' disciples and the multitudes.

When one considers the various individuals and groups involved, it paints a marvelous picture of Jesus' coming kingdom.

Jesus Himself

First, there is the Lord Jesus in His glorified body.

There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light (Matthew 17:2)

He will rule in His coming kingdom in His glorified body.


Moses, in his glorified body, represented the saved that will enter God's kingdom through death.


Elijah never died. He represents those believers who enter the kingdom of God by the translation or the rapture of the church.

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed - in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality (1 Corinthians 15:50-53).

Jesus' Disciples

Peter, James, and John in their natural bodies depict those Jewish believers who will enter the coming kingdom.

The Various Nations That Will Make Up The Kingdom

The multitude of people, left at the base of the mountain, represent the various nations who will enter the kingdom of God in their natural or non-glorified bodies.

In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth (Isaiah 11:10-12).


The Transfiguration is significant because it was the glorification of the body of Jesus. Those with Him saw Jesus in His glory. The appearance of Moses and Elijah testified that Jesus was the one of whom the law and prophets spoke. The approving testimony of God the Father further confirmed the identity of Jesus.

In the Transfiguration of Jesus we have the various elements of the coming kingdom represented. There is the glorified King, those who will come into the kingdom through death, those who will come into the kingdom through the transformation of their bodies at the rapture of the church, those Jewish believers who will enter into the millennial reign of Christ in their earthly bodies, as well as the people from the various nations who will also enter into the millennium in non-glorified bodies.

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