VWednesday, May 13
So far we’ve covered a few of the problems connected with the transfiguration, but without getting a handle on the reason for it. The context will help in that regard. Two key events took place a few days before the transfiguration. The first was affirming the identity of Jesus. Jesus took the initiative and asked the disciples who people thought Jesus was. Then he asked them who they (the disciples) thought He was. Peter, as spokesman, affirmed that He was the Son of God, the Messiah. Jesus then told them to keep this knowledge to themselves (Mt. 16:20), probably because the crowds would want to crown him king with the purpose of freeing them from Roman bondage. The disciples were not exempt from that kind of thinking. That set the stage for the second event, the revelation that he would rejected by the Jews, he would suffer at their hands, and he would die. This was shocking news, revealed by Jesus to the disciples for the first time. They did not want to believe it. To their credit, they had fallen in love with Jesus and could not fathom his leaving them. Something had to be done to prepare the disciples for what was coming. The transfiguration did that. The second event was the enigmatic statement that “some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God (Mt. 16:28).” Among the various interpretations of this statement, the most obvious one is the transfiguration, which immediately follows. Matthew sees the transfiguration in light of the future kingdom. So what we have here is a preview of what it will be like when Jesus rules over his kingdom. His death and resurrection is the very essence of salvation, the requisite for entering into the kingdom. They had to banish forever the idea of Jesus overthrowing the Roman Empire, and accepting the death and resurrection of Christ as the only way to conquer sin and Satan. The transfiguration was a wake up call for the disciples. Their mind set had to change. They had to be ready for the crucifixion and Jesus’ ascension into heaven in order to take their roles as Apostles and leaders in the church.