- Next, Jesus makes a very interesting statement. He said that there were some of them there who would actually get to see what He is going to look like on the day when He comes in glory. He called it seeing the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.
28 “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Mat 16:28 NASB)
- It is important to note that what follows in all three synoptic gospels is the ‘Mount of Transfiguration’ passage (cf. Mark 8-9, Luke 9:23-36). In other words, the writers of the gospel accounts – though not primarily concerned with the chronology of the stories – all agreed that these two stories were inseparable.
- The “mount of transfiguration” is a somewhat overlooked passage from most pulpits and commentaries. Often, even in depth commentaries of the Gospels will only have a few sentences to write about this passage. This is really tragic since Peter said that his presence on the mountain was the anchor of his own apostolic witness of the Messiah.
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”– 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 So we have the prophetic word (i.e. the promises from the prophets) made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. (2Pe 1:16-19 NASB)
- Next, just under a week after this statement, He took Peter, James, and John onto a mountain and suddenly He was ‘transfigured’ – which just means He changed. His face became as bright as the sun, and His garments became white.
1 Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. 2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. (Mat 17:1-2 NASB)
- As always, when reading the Scripture (especially the NT) we need to ask what those men were thinking when they were there. Did this experience connect with anything that they knew from the Scriptures already?
- Having just told them that He would first suffer and then be raised Himself, He is showing them the first glimpse of what the prophets foretold. The resurrection of the righteous and the establishment of His kingdom on the earth – thus establishing a restored dwelling of God on the earth with man – was the central hope of all of the Old Testament Scriptures.
19 Your dead will live; Their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, For your dew is as the dew of the dawn, And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits. (Isa 26:19 NASB)
1 “Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. 2 “He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, That we may live before Him. 3 “So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.” (Hsa 6:1-3 NASB)
- However, the Scripture also talks a great deal of the radiant glory of God that will be restored to the human body in the resurrection.
2 “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt (i.e. the lake of fire). 3 ” Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. (Dan 12:2-3 NASB)
1 “Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. (Isa 60:1 NASB)
14 For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.” (Eph 5:14 NASB)
- So, when the three disciples are looking at Jesus in this way, they understand that they are looking at what the glory of the Kingdom is going to be like. If this isn’t enough, He also let’s them see some of the saints who will be there. Righteous men like Moses and Elijah will be a part of the Kingdom and the resurrection.
3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. (Mat 17:3 NASB)
- Peter, missing the point, makes a suggestion that they should build places of worship to commemorate this experience. The Father quickly corrects the misunderstanding of why they are on the mountain. They are on the mountain to be thoroughly convinced that He is the Messiah and that His words are completely trustworthy.
4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son (cf. Ps. 2:7), with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. (Mat 17:4-6 NASB)
- the great motivator – the glory of the risen messiah
- As Peter mentioned in his 2nd Epistle, his boldness the share the Gospel was due to the fact that He saw the glory of the Messiah at His coming in the clouds. As a result the hope of the early church was proclaimed as the empty tomb because they hoped to have their bodies transformed to be like His glorious body in the resurrection.
- Paul explains his motivation for counting all things loss at the end of chapter 3. To not only be a part of the resurrection, but to have a resurrected body like the Messiah’s.
20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. (Phl 3:20-21 NASB)
49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. (1Cr 15:49 NASB)
23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. … 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; (Rom 8:23, 29 NASB)
- The early church hand accounts of the Messiah, His death, and His resurrection as an encouragement to persevere in righteousness and humility.
- 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus… 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, (Phl 2:5-9 NASB)
3 For He (Jesus) has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses (in the resurrection), by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. (Hbr 3:3 NASB)
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy (i.e. the resurrection) set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; (Hbr 12:2-4 NASB)