Session #111 Sneak Peak
Scripture Matthew 17:1-13
Summary Matthew 16:28 – 7:13 records the Transfiguration of Jesus. Upon the peak, the disciples were given a sneak peek – a glimpse – of the glory of the Christ and His kingdom. More than just a high point, how are we to respond to the revelations and insights the Lord reveals to us from time to time? Henson draws practical application for the spiritual walk and kingdom assignments.
Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.” And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist. Matthew 16:28-17:13 (cf Mark 9:2–13; Luke 9:28–36; 2 Pet. 1:16-18; John 1:14)
Jesus brings disciples up the peak for a sneak peek and a glimpse of His glory. A foretaste of what is to come – for us, for the kingdom.
Everybody loves revelation. But what is a revelation for? What do we do with it?
Jesus assures with Matthew 16:28 but this verse is best understood with Matthew 17:1-13. All three synoptic gospels link this prediction with the Transfiguration of Jesus, “some standing here” refers to Peter, James, and John; and “the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” means Jesus revealing His glory through Transfiguration.
Jesus gives the disciples a sneak peek, up on the peak, a glimpse of His glory. If Matthew 16 was a high point of Matthew’s gospel where Peter declares Jesus as Messiah, then Matthew 17 is a much higher point where Jesus displays the glory of Messiah – the peak – because after this, all the way to Jerusalem and the Cross, it is downhill. This peak will establish Jesus as much as it will also encourage the disciples for what is to come.
This assurance is also for Israel as Matthew was written to Jews, the people of the kingdom, and us.
Part I: Old Testament Allusions and Fulfilment
High Mountain (Matthew 17:1; Exodus 24:15–16)
High places are associated with worship and the revelation of gods. The gospels do not indicate the location of the high mountain. Early church tradition places the transfiguration on Mount Tabor, a prominent hill at the eastern end of the Jezreel valley, not far from Nazareth. However, Mount Tabor, was not a relatively high mountain as it stood at 1,900 feet, and was populated and fortified by military installations at that time.
During the Byzantine Era, Eusebius, the bishop of Caesarea and church historian, suggested that the transfiguration should be associated with Mount Hermon, which stood at 9,000 feet, near Caesarea Philippi.
Moses was on Mount Sinai, and Elijah on Mount Horeb when they met God.
After Six Days (Matthew 17:1; Exodus 24:15–16)
It was after six days that Jesus brought the disciples up onto the mountain which parallels Moses’ experience that God called him out of the midst of the cloud on the sixth day.
Jesus Took Peter, James, and John his Brother (Matthew 17:1; Exodus 24:13-14)
Jesus took Peter, James, and John, whereas Moses took Joshua. Who are you bringing along? Who are you discipling?
His Face Shone: Jesus was Transfigured (Matthew 17:2)
In a moment, Jesus’ face shone, His clothes were as white as snow. Glory radiated from the inside out; His face and body. Moses after 40 days and nights had the same experience where the “skin of his face shone while he talked with Him” Exodus 34:29.
Moses reflected God’s glory on his face only. Jesus revealed His glory as God and King.
Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:3)
Moses represented the Law and Elijah represented the Prophets to the people. Together as they spoke with Jesus, it was a symbolic handing over to Jesus, as the Old Testament finds its fulfilment and culmination in the person Messiah in Jesus. The Old Testament and New Testament is one kingdom story.
Moses also represented the group of people who died and were resurrected in glory; while Elijah represented those who did not experience death and are also in glory.
Exodus (Luke 9:30–31)
Exodus was the great deliverance from Egypt, and Jesus’ “decease” will “accomplish” (fulfil) the exodus or deliverance from the bondage of sin in the world.
Tabernacles (Matthew 17:4-5)
Peter probably blurted the first thing that came to mind, out of fear or confusion offered to build three tabernacles. “While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud” Matthew 17:5.
God’s cloud rested on the Tabernacle who is Jesus as the True Tabernacle.
Hear Him (Matthew 17:5; Deuteronomy 18:15)
You have listened to Moses. It is time to listen to Jesus. Jesus is presented as the New Moses.
Fear (Matthew 17:6; Exodus 34:30)
Not just the glory of Jesus but also the glory of the Father. Israel’s response of fear when Moses came down with God’s glory, speaking on God’s behalf.
Glory and Grace (Matthew 17:7–8; Exodus 33:21–23)
Jesus knew when to reveal and conceal His glory. As God, no one can take the fullness of His glory. In Exodus 12 when God showed only His back to Moses as no man can see God’s glory and still live, so God put Moses in the cleft of the rock so that he can see a glimpse of God’s glory.
The truth of His majesty is juxtaposed with the grace of His majesty in John 1:14.
Moses’ glory was a fading glory. Jesus’ glory is eternal. Moses had to wear a veil to conceal the fading glory and had to be God’s presence to regain the glory that shone on his face. This temporary glory has given way to Christ’s everlasting glory.
Part II: Lessons and Applications
Mark Milestones. Don’t Make Monuments. Live from Peaks (Matthew 17:4)
It is good for us to be up on peaks, and many will want to stay here forever. Mount Tabor has many chapels and churches to mark the spot. We can mark milestones but do not make monuments and do not camp on experiences or revelations. Markers are for our mission (assignments) and push us forward. They are to anchor and encourage us for our spiritual walk and kingdom assignments.
Revelations are for recalibrations. When there is an awakening, move on to alignment, then assignments (Isaiah 6). Serve the Messiah on a mission, do not just seek manifestations.
Process Peaks For Bigger Peek Picture (Matthew 17:9; Mark 9:9–10)
Prophetic peeks and spiritual highs are nice but learn to seek understanding. We see in part and we may not have the full picture. There is a need for processing with the Lord and with others. Perhaps a future experience is needed and that will bring an understanding of what was shown or revealed.
Even after witnessing the transfiguration, it was hard for the disciples to understand the suffering and death that is to come (Matthew 17:10). They understood about John the Baptist but not the part about Jesus’ suffering and death (Matthew 17:12–13).
Shown The Kingdom. Enter The Kingdom (2 Peter 1:16–18)
We have been given a sneak peek of Jesus and His kingdom. We are born again to see and enter the kingdom (John 3:3,5). Do we just believe or just have faith?
Peter says “giving all diligence, add to your faith” (2 Peter 1:5-7) and not to be shortsighted but be fruitful (2 Peter 1:8-9). Be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, and an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:10-11).
Progress From Peek To Peak (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18)
Jesus’ transfiguration points to our transformation. We are transformed by the renewing of minds as said in Romans 12:2. It is by the Spirit that we are transformed. With the unveiled face we behold the glory of the Lord and by the Spirit of the law, it transforms us from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). Not a fading glory or a reflected glory, an inside-out glory. We carry the glory in our hearts; treasure in jars of clay. The outward man is perishing, but the inward man is being renewed.
We look forward to eternal glory (1 Corinthians 15:42–43; 51–52). A glimpse of glory is a guarantee of glory in the life to come (1 Corinthians 15:35-58). We shall all be changed, the image of Man is changed to the image of the heavenly Man. How we are transformed in glory determines how we will be finally changed in glory.
Finish the Work. Receive the Glory (John 17:4-5; Hebrews 12:1-2)
Peeks Produce Peak Performance
The transfiguration encouraged and strengthened Jesus towards the Cross. It should encourage and strengthen disciples for their mission as well. Jesus worked for God’s glory, knowing He will receive the glory (Philippians 2:5-11).
The joy set before Him; and the glory set before Him enabled Him to endure the Cross. Suffering is the pathway to kingdom glory. The same is expected of us.
Have you asked the Lord to show you His glory? You may have received them, a sneak peek. How are we responding to what He has shown us?