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, 2013 at 19:13
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    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, 2013 at 19:29

3 Answers 3


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.


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..

  • I'm sorry, but I don't see how this answers the question. Nov 13, 2013 at 12:37
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    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. Nov 13, 2013 at 13:38

Moses was both a great Law giver and also a great prophet.

Just before he died he said to the Israelites: "God will raise up for you a prophet LIKE ME from among your own people (Israelites) you MUST LISTEN TO HIM anyone who doesnt listen to him will be completely cut off from among his own people"

This great prophet had not appeared by the time of John the baptist because the priests and levites asked him are you THE prophet and John answered "no".

This great awaited prophet is JESUS we know this because he was just like moses ie Just like Moses he had a miraculous escape from death when many innocents were killed by demon possessed rulers. Just like moses came out of the desert after 40 years with signs and wonders to convince the people that God had sent him Jesus came out of the desert after 40 days of fasting with signs and wonders to convince the people that God had sent him. Just like Moses went up the mountain and gave the Law of the old covenant to the people Jesus went up the mountain and gave the LAW of the new covenant to the people ie the sermon on the mount which STILL MUST BE KEPT at the end of this sermon JESUS said whoever hears THESE words of mine and puts them into practise is like a wise man that builds his house on the rock.

Just like Moses went up the mountain and he was transfigured so that his face shone like the sun and he had to cover his face with a veil so does Jesus

and God the father emphasises to the disciples that JESUS is the great prophet and law giver that Moses prophesied about by emphasising this truth and saying the same message that he spoke through Moses " This is my son who I hav chosen LISTEN TO HIM"

The mount of transfiguration like many other events of JEsus's life underlines that fact that Jesus is the promised prophet, the greatest prophet ever to walk the face of the earth whose words are more important than any other words ever spoken.

WE MUST LISTEN TO HIM or we will be completely cut off from among our own people ie ETERNAL SEPERATION from all those we love.


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