Matthew, Chapter 17
Matt. 17:1 "And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his
brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2 And was
transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his
raiment was white as the light. 3 And, behold, there appeared unto them
Moses and Elias talking with him. 4 Then answered Peter, and said unto
Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make
here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for
Elias. 5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them:
and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son,
in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. 6 And when the disciples heard
it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. 7 And Jesus came and
touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. 8 And when they had
lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only."
The Lord had said in Matt. 16:28, "Verily I say unto you, There be some
standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of
man coming in his kingdom." Peter spoke of this mount of transfiguration
in 2 Pet. 1:16 "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when
we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the
Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the
excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18
And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in
the holy mount." From Peter's description we may make the following
conclusions of the significance of the mount of transfiguration:
1. The mount of transfiguration showed the power and coming of our Lord
2. The mount of transfiguration showed forth the majesty of the Lord
Jesus Christ. The word, majesty, means glory or splendor.
3. The voice of the Father came from "the excellent glory." This, no
doubt, has reference to paradise or the glory world as Peter said that
it was a voice that came from heaven.
The Lord took Peter, James, and John apart from the other disciples and
was transfigured before them. We may ask ourselves, "Why was Peter,
James, and John taken apart from the other disciples?" These three
disciples were likewise taken apart from the other disciples on two
1. Mark 5:37 "And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and
James, and John the brother of James. 38 And he cometh to the house of
the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and
wailed greatly. 39 And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make
ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth."
2. Mark 14:33 "And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and
began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; 34 And saith unto them,
My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch."
Peter, James, and John were permitted to be witnesses of things that the
other disciples were not witnesses of. They were witnesses of the
transfiguration of Christ, and of the resurrection of the young maid,
and were witnesses of the Lord as he prayed in the garden. These three
disciples were given certain roles and responsibilities for which it was
very beneficial for them to have been witnesses of these things. Peter
was very much a leader of the disciples and was called the apostle to
the Jews. John was blessed of God to write a very large part of the New
Testament scripture including the book of Revelation. James was the
first of the disciples to be killed for preaching the gospel. I suspect
it was for these roles that these three were separated from the other
disciples to witness the mount of transfiguration.
"And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun,
and his raiment was white as the light." The word transfigure comes from
the Greek word, metamorphoo, and means to transform (lit. or fig.
"metamorphose"):--change, transfigure, transform. The word picture of
Jesus and his description is to be taken literally, although, I am sure
that we could never capture the total brilliance through the word
description. On the earth, the most brilliant and powerful light that we
are exposed to is the sun. If we look directly into the sun for just a
few seconds it can literally blind us. Yet Saul on the road to Damascus
saw a light brighter than the noonday sun. These disciples were
literally seeing Christ in his glory and the brilliance was staggering.
The clothing or raiment of Jesus was said to be "white as the light."
The light was previously described as the "shining of the sun." This
white was not just an ordinary white, but was a white of great
brilliance. White is used in the scriptures as a representative of the
righteousness of Jesus that is imputed to the children of God. Jesus was
clothed in perfect righteousness.
Next, we have witnesses to the transfiguration of the Lord Jesus Christ.
These witnesses were in addition to the witness of Peter, James, and
John. Moses and Elias were witnesses that appeared with Christ. We ask
ourselves, "What is the significance of Moses and Elias appearing with
Christ?" In Revelation Chapter 11 we read of Moses and Elijah who are
God's two faithful witnesses: 3 "And I will give power unto my two
witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore
days, clothed in sackcloth. 4 These are the two olive trees, and the two
candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 5 And if any man will
hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their
enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be
killed. 6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days
of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and
to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will." In the days
of Elijah the prophet, he prayed and it rained not for three and a half
years. In the days of Moses, God used Moses to smite the earth with all
plagues. Moses is the representative of the law, whereas, Elijah is the
representative of the prophets. The Old Testament is referred to as "the
law and the prophets." At least one symbolism of Moses and Elias
appearing with Jesus is that the law and prophets are a testimony of
The Lord said, " Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have
eternal life: and they are they which testify of me" (John 5:39). The
Jews thought they had eternal life through the keeping of the law,
however, the purpose of the law and the prophets was not to give eternal
life, but to testify of Jesus who is the giver of eternal life.
"Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be
here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee,
and one for Moses, and one for Elias." When Peter spoke these words he
was sore afraid, and knew not what to say as is recorded in Mark 9:6
"For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid."
Peter tried to
equate Christ as being on a level with Moses and Elias. The law and the
prophets give testimony of Jesus. Unlike the masses of people who today
think that the scriptures give eternal life, they actually are just
witnesses of Jesus. It is Christ who is the giver of eternal life and
the scriptures are not to be considered to be equal with Jesus. Elijah
was translated and carried to heaven. Moses was buried and the place of
his grave is unknown. The law and the prophets along with their
representatives Moses and Elijah are not to be worshipped. Christ is to
be worshipped. Thus it was inappropriate to build tabernacles for Moses
Often the question is asked, "How did the disciples know that this was
Moses and Elias?" There obviously were no pictures available for them to
compare the two. The only logical answer is that they knew that it was
Moses and Elias because this fact was revealed to them by God.
"While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and
behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in
whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." The cloud that overshadowed the
disciples was a very unusual cloud. It was said to be a bright cloud.
Most clouds are dark clouds. The Greek word for bright is photeinos, and
means "lustrous, i.e. transparent or well-illuminated (fig.):-- bright,
full of light." This cloud was showing forth the very glory of God. The
disciples were being overshadowed by the very glory of God. The glory of
God is manifest in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It is
through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ that we have been
made righteous and have eternal life.
The voice of God the Father rings out, "This is my beloved Son, in whom
I am well pleased." There is no man from Adam to the end of time in
which it can be said that God is well pleased. Only with the Son of God
is God well pleased. Christ was perfectly obedient to every word of God
and fulfilled them to a jot and a tittle. We are to hear him. Peter
spoke of a more sure word of prophecy: 2 Pet. 1:19, "We have also a more
sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a
light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star
arise in your hearts." Paul said in Hebrews: Heb 1:1 "God, who at sundry
times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the
prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he
hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds."
Surely we have great reason to hear the Son of God.
"And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. 8
And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus
only." John had said of Jesus, "he must increase, but I must decrease."
When we see and hear Jesus all others disappear from our sight. To him
belongs all the praise, honor, and glory.
Matt. 17:9 "And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them,
saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again
from the dead. 10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the
scribes that Elias must first come? 11 And Jesus answered and said unto
them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. 12 But I say
unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have
done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man
suffer of them. 13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them
of John the Baptist."
"And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying,
Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the
dead." Once again the Lord tells the disciples of his death, burial, and
resurrection. As we will see, they still did not believe that Christ
would die. However, the Lord charged them to tell no man until after his
resurrection. We have no record that these three disobeyed the Lord and
told this to anyone until after his resurrection.
"And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that
Elias must first come?" The disciples were referring to Malachi chapter
4:5 "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the
great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the
fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers,
lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." Thus, they knew the
scriptures taught that Elijah must come before the Messiah came.
"And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come,
and restore all things. 12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come
already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they
listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 13 Then the
disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist." John
was not literally Elijah, but he came as the forerunner of Christ, just
as Elijah had come as the forerunner of Elisha. John came in the Spirit
and authority of God as the forerunner of Christ to make ready a people
prepared of the Lord.
Matt. 17:14 "And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him
a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, 15 Lord, have mercy on
my son: for he is a lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth
into the fire, and oft into the water. 16 And I brought him to thy
disciples, and they could not cure him. 17 Then Jesus answered and said,
O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how
long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. 18 And Jesus rebuked
the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that
very hour. 19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why
could not we cast him out? 20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your
unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of
mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder
place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21
Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting."
This man came to Jesus having a son who was possessed with a devil and
was lunatic and sore vexed. This vexation was apparently so sore, that
he often times tried to kill himself by throwing himself into the fire
and in the water. No doubt the father was desperate to get his son some
help and had heard of the miracles surrounding the Lord Jesus Christ. He
brought his son first to the disciples, but they were unable to help his
son. (The Lord had given the disciples certain powers over unclean
spirits.) Then the father brought the son to Jesus and kneeled down and
worshipped him, saying, "Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is a
lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft
into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not
cure him." "Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse
generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?
bring him hither to me. 18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed
out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour."
The Lord called that generation a faithless and perverse generation
because of their unbelief. Even the disciples manifest an unbelief as
they had been given power over unclean spirits and yet could not cast
out the unclean spirit from this young man. Sometimes we are given
talents and run into obstacles and lack faith to overcome the obstacles.
This was the situation with the disciples. The Lord has all power and
had manifest that power in a multitude of ways. The disciples believed
the Lord had the power to heal and to cure for they had been witnesses
to it numerous times. Yet for that power to work through them they did
not believe. We are no different in the talents or abilities that God
gives us. We often go into unbelief, especially if there are obstacles
in the way.
The Lord cast out the unclean spirit and healed the boy. Then the
disciples asked the Lord: "Why could not we cast him out? 20 And Jesus
said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If
ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this
mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing
shall be impossible unto you. 21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by
prayer and fasting." They could not cast out the unclean spirit because
of their unbelief. Sometimes we rest in our own ability and when we do,
it will fail us. When we trust in the power of God and not in our own
ability, then we can do whatever the Lord would have us do. Even if
there is a mountain in the way, and the Lord has commanded us to do
something through the leadership of the Holy Spirit, then we will be
able to rest by faith in the Lord's removing the mountain for us.
Matt. 17:22, 23
Matt. 17:22 "And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The
Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: 23 And they shall
kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were
Part of what the Lord was saying to the disciples they could believe.
They could believe that the Lord would be betrayed into the hands of men
and that they would kill him. For this, they were exceedingly sorry.
They did not want to see Christ delivered into the hands of men and for
them to kill him. This went against the very fiber of their natural
Part of what he Lord was saying to the disciples they did not believe.
They did not believe in the resurrection from the dead. If they had
believed in the resurrection of the dead, then they would not have been
exceedingly sorry. They would have rejoiced that the Lord had overcome
sin, death, hell, and the grave. It was only after the resurrection of
Christ that the disciples believed in the resurrection.
Matt. 17:24 "And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received
tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?
25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented
him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the
earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? 26
Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the
children free. 27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou
to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up;
and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money:
that take, and give unto them for me and thee."
Peter had overstepped his authority when he said that Jesus paid
tribute. The Lord asked Peter a question, "What thinkest thou, Simon? of
whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own
children, or of strangers? 26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus
saith unto him, Then are the children free." While the question and
answer are very plain, there is a point we must learn as the Lord's
church. Tribute and custom are raised against strangers. The children
are free of tribute and custom. In the kingdom of heaven there is no
tithing system to raise money. The children are free from tribute or
custom. Giving in the New Testament church is to be done willingly and
without coercion. Again there is no taxation system in the New Testament
"Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and
cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou
hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and
give unto them for me and thee." The Lord did not owe the tax collectors
tribute or custom, but he gave to them so as not to offend them. He gave
willingly, not because he was coerced to do so. Even in this the Lord
showed his great power and knowledge by having Peter to take up a fish
and find a piece of money in the fishes mouth.