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Matthew, Mark and Luke all record the story of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Matthew's version is provided below.

It seems that each writer simply records that the event occurred, but none of them seem to indicate why it was important. Did it fulfill prophecy? Was it just another authentication of Jesus' divinity? Are Moses and Elijah somehow significant to be the ones speaking with Jesus?

According to Protestant understanding (and Catholic if it carries over), what is the significance or importance of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration?

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

9 And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” 10 And the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 11 He answered, “Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. 12 But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist. Matthew 17:1-13 ESV

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One thing that my pastor pointed out recently was that Moses asked to see God's face (I don't remember the exact reference). God would not let him, because he couldn't handle it. But on the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses was able to see Jesus' face in all its glory. –  SSumner Mar 25 '13 at 19:13
Fr. Robert Barron has a good deal to say about it here (it's audio). If I have time later, I'll attempt to summarize the key points ... –  svidgen Mar 25 '13 at 19:29
the timing is not coincidental. if i recall correctly, the Transfiguration occurred immediately after Peter took the step of faith and unambiguously identified Jesus as the Messiah and this was also the first that Jesus started telling people what was going to happen to him in Jerusalem. and what was going to happen the third day after that. the mission of Jesus just got bumped up from "merely" the ministry of a prophet to something entirely in a different class, never seen before in human history. it is at this point that humankind starts to really be exposed to who Jesus really is. –  robert bristow-johnson Jan 6 '14 at 17:56

2 Answers 2

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John 5:39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me...

A common refrain in sermons (and I've used this myself!) on the Transfiguration is that Jesus is being shown to be "the Word."

Historically, Jesus referred to the Scripture as "the Law and the Prophets," referencing a common idiom of the time. Of these,

  • Moses is clearly the "Lawgiver," in that he is identified with the Covenant most closely.
  • Elijah is the "Prophet," the first in a line and the prototype of many.

By appearing with "the Law" (Moses) and "the Prophets" (Elijah), Jesus is shown to be fufilling all of Scripture.

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+1 Very interesting! Thanks! –  Narnian Mar 25 '13 at 19:18

Moses represents the law and Elijah the prophets,what simply happened there was a handover or a transition from the law and prophets into the dispensation which we are now in which is the dispensation of grace.After they saw moses and elijah,God said this is my beloved son hear him,he did not say hear them and they looked up and saw only Jesus..hence we are no longer under the law and prophets but under Grace..

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I'm sorry, but I don't see how this answers the question. –  David Stratton Nov 13 '13 at 12:37
This is actually relevant, in that the people at the Transfiguration have symbolic value as well as literal value. The only problem is that other answers have already stated this, and thus this adds little to the question. Also, the conclusion "hence we are no longer under the law and the prophets" doesn't actually follow from what was said. –  Affable Geek Nov 13 '13 at 13:38

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