Jesus’ Natural Body is changed into his Glorified Body
The angry religious leaders were closing in on Jesus and it was getting closer to the time when He would suffer and die on the cross for our sins. Jesus knew that his time was near and He had been telling the disciples that He would have to die in the near future and then be raised up on the third day. But the disciples did not want to hear any of that! Jesus had so much to share with his disciples but they were not ready to take it all in.
One day Jesus asked Peter and James and John to climb to the top of a mountain with Him. Jesus wanted to share something with these three: They were confused about his coming death and He wanted them to understand Him better. So Peter, James and John followed Jesus up a high mountain which Biblical scholars believe was probably
When they reached the top of the mountain, Peter, James and John stood trembling and watching in amazement as Jesus’ natural body was transformed before their eyes into his glorified body! (John17:5, 2 Peter 1:17) Bible passages in Matthew describe what happened on that mountain top this way: “Jesus was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” (Matthew 17:2) And passages in Luke say: “As Jesus prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and his robe became white and glistening.” (Luke 9:29) Words could not describe it.
Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain revealed his majesty and glory to these three disciples. Christ’s heavenly glory had been veiled or hidden while He was here on earth in his human form. But His glory and majesty as the Son of God was shown to Peter and James and John .and this glory will again be fully revealed to us at the end of the age when Christ returns. (John 17:5: 2 peter 1:17)
After Jesus was transfigured from his natural body to his heavenly body, Moses and Elijah appeared on the mountain top with Him and talked with Jesus about his coming death on the cross, as Peter, James and John watched and listened. (Luke 9:30-31)
Bible scholars believe that Moses and Elijah appearing there with Jesus in all his glory helped the disciples to understand that the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah) are there to support Jesus in His mission to bring salvation through his death. The Law had been given to the nation of
through Moses, so Moses represented the old covenant of the law and the distant
promise of salvation, which was soon to be fulfilled in the death of
Jesus. And Elijah was one of Israel ’s Major
Prophets and appears as the appointed restorer of all things. (Mal 4:5-6) Israel
So seeing Jesus in his majesty with Moses and Elijah helped the disciples to better understand that Jesus’ future death would not be incompatible with the Old Testament- a problem they had been struggling with. And that Jesus’ coming death would be the fulfillment of the law and also a fulfillment of what their Jewish faith had taught them. This helped them to understand later that Christianity is Jewish!
And then while Jesus, Moses and Elijah are still talking with one another, Scripture says that: “a bright cloud overshadows them, and suddenly a voice comes out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!’”. (Matthew 17:5) God is telling these three that Jesus is His Son.
All of this is so overwhelming for Peter and James and John that they slump to the ground stunned and shaking with terror. Jesus comes over to them and comforts them and holds them and tells them not to be afraid. Jesus is back in his natural body now and Moses and Elijah are gone.
Jesus and Peter and James and John get up and slowly make their way back down the mountain. Peter tells Jesus that he will build three shelters on the mountain – one for Jesus and one for Moses and one for Elijah. Good old Peter! He has just been in the presence of Jesus arrayed in all his glory and majesty along with Moses and Elijah – and his very first thought is to build three little shelters!! And aren’t we just like him? If we had been there on the mountain top, instead of worshipping the Lord in his majesty, wouldn’t we have our cameras or cell phones out snapping pictures?
Jesus told the three disciples not to tell anyone what they had seen up on the mountain top until after He dies and is raised from the dead. And the disciples asked Jesus why the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come again before the Messiah comes? If Jesus is the Messiah then Elijah should have come, so they were thinking.
The Jewish prophet Malachi prophesied that Elijah would come again before their Savior did. “See I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.” (Malachi 4:6) Jesus answered that Elijah had already come and that the Jewish people did not recognize him but treated him badly. (John the Baptist was beheaded) And Jesus told them that He would be treated badly also. And the story ends with Peter, James and John understanding that Jesus was speaking to them about John the Baptist since scripture says that John the Baptist had come “in the spirit and power of Elijah.” (Luke 1:17)
Jesus wanted his disciples to know that He was the Son of God and Savior even while they would soon have to watch him suffer and die. But the disciples being influenced by their culture were having a hard time understanding that their Savior would have to suffer and die. That did not fit their expectations. The disciples were arguing among themselves over which one of them would be the greatest in the kingdom while Jesus was begging them to stay awake and pray with Him in his suffering. They couldn’t even do that. It seems these men were buffoons and not very spiritually sensitive.
But then would we have done any better? As Jesus’ followers today we may be so influenced by our culture that we also miss what He is trying to show us because it doesn’t fit with our expectations. And some of us spend our time arguing among ourselves over who is the most important while Jesus is begging us to reach out to the needy and be kind and loving to one another. We may not be very spiritually sensitive either.
But even though his disciples all left Him and scattered when He was crucified, Jesus still gave them his Holy Spirit and his power and He loved them so dearly. Even though they were imperfect, they still meant so much to Him. And I believe that even though we mess up again and again, He uses us and gives us his Holy Spirit and He loves us so dearly because we mean so much to Him too. I’m so glad about that, aren’t you?