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Jun 2 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Day Forty-six – Matthew 16:27-17:13

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you

Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. Matthew 17:1-2

This is a strange story and, at first, we might ask whether the gospels need it. What does it teach? What does it prove? But its strangeness is the very reason we should suspect its importance.

In the previous episodes, Jesus had been challenged by his opponents to provide them with a sign from heaven. In effect, they were demanding that he show them his credentials or produce something to identify himself as someone sent by God. A short time later, Jesus asked the disciples what people thought of him. In their minds, who was he? He followed that question by asking them, “But who do you say that I am?”

So the issue raised in this part of the story has to do with the person of Jesus–who is he? Now, if he were to give a “sign from heaven” that revealed his identity, what would it look like? Perhaps there would be some kind of visible change in his face and clothing, a conversation with two historic heroes, and a bright cloud from which a voice announced, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”

All this splendor was displayed before an audience of three. It seems to me that all this glory concentrated in one place should have been witnessed by the thousands of people who had come to Jesus, the same way the phenomena on Mt. Sinai was witnessed by all Israel (Ex. 20:18-21).

“He was transfigured [or¬†transformed]¬†before them.” This is the center of the story. For some reason, this did not terrify the disciples (it was the voice from the cloud that made their knees buckle). But Jesus, even transformed with heavenly light, was still Jesus to them. He was no different from before, only now what had been hidden was revealed.

Lord Jesus, our lives are bound to You. God is illuminated to us through the change that came over you. And by the perfection of what we see in You, we too will be changed “from glory to glory.” Thank You for this revelation and hope. (see 2 Cor. 3:18 & 4:3-6)

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