Matthew’s gospel teaches us much about what enhances or prevents our knowledge of God. In Matthew’s account of the transfiguration we find an experience of God that terrifies and confirms. Like the day of judgment, it is unavoidable and demands a response. This experience represents both the law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah) and Luke tells us the conversation was about the time of Jesus’ departure – his life, death and resurrection fulfilling both the law and the prophets (Matthew 5.17-18). Finally the disciples learn that Jesus is not on a par with the great leaders of the past (‘Who do you say that I am?’ 16.13-20) he is the Lord, the King himself. He is the mediator between God and humanity. The only one who can say to us about the open presence of God, ‘Do not be afraid.’ (17.6). Now, the reason for Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem can be better understood. The cross he chooses to face (16.21) would only be another example of human brutality unless the person crucified is the creator himself. Our greatest desire and our greatest threat making himself vulnerable, dying for our sake to give us himself. [Audio | Notes]
Matthew 17.1-13 | Shine
Reasons people believe in God
Reasons people suppress their experience of God
In all visions of God – there is only Jesus
– You are the sons of God | take up your cross and follow me
– Light | Moses & Elijah | Booths
We’ve seen the great and terrible day of the Lord (Malachi 4.5,6; 2 Peter 1.17f)
Who do we see? Who do we hear?
For further thought
Q: It is often hard for people to share their spiritual experiences, not because they are rare but because they address us deeply. If you have had such experiences, what did they mean to you?
Q: After the misunderstandings recorded in Chapter 16, Jesus again goes up to a mountain top to pray (e.g. 14.23) but this time takes Peter, James and John. Why does he want them to have this experience?
Q: Given the misunderstandings of the last few chapters, why does Jesus tell them to keep it to themselves for the time being (v9)?
Q: In Exodus 34.29-e35 after Moses has spent time in God’s presence his face is made radiant, Where does the light come from in Matthew 17?
Q: In Exodus 40.34-45 the glory and cloud symbolising the presence God bars even Moses from the Tabernacle bit in Matthew 17, Jesus is the source of the glory and stands in the midst of the cloud. Given this, why was Peter mistaken to offer to build three ‘tabernacles’?
Q: How does this make sense of what the voice says in verse 5?
Q: Read Malachi 4.5,6 and Matthew 3.1-6. IN what ways did John the Baptist fulfil the prophecy of Malachi?
Q: In Matthew, what is the great and terrible day of the Lord (Malachi 4.5 see also Luke 9.31)