Transfiguration of Jesus – extra ideas

‘Jesus has spoken to his disciples about the glory of the Son of Mary (Mark 8:38). Now, pulling back the veil of suffering which will characterise his death and be the mark of his people’s life in the world in his absence, he shows them what that glory will be like. The Twelve are given a preview of the triumphant, post-Easter Jesus, crowned with glory.

Why should Elijah and Moses be present with Jesus? Just as Jesus would be taken up to heaven with his humanity intact, so Elijah had been taken directly to heaven (2 Kings 2:11-12) and, in the belief of many, Moses also (Deuteronomy 34:5-7). Moses and Elijah were great prophetic leaders from Israel’s past with whom it would have been easy for people at that time to associate Jesus. Was not Jesus a prophet of the soon-to-appear king?

But it was important for the Twelve to understand both the difference in kind and also the infinite superiority of Jesus to these two great prophets; they could hardly be compared with Jesus or even spoken of in the same breath.

  • Jesus was transfigured, or glorified, before the disciples and his clothes became dazzling white; no details are given about the appearance of Moses and Elijah.
  • The voice of the Father declared of Jesus, ‘This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him.’
  • The voice addressed the Twelve and demanded that they listen to Jesus and in particular, to what he had said about the suffering of the Messiah and his people (8:31—9:1). But the voice was silent about Moses and Elijah.

In the second half of Mark’s gospel it is important that the Twelve — and the readers – understand who Jesus is. From now on, Mark reminds us that Jesus is not merely the Messiah of Israel, but the Son of Man who is the Son of God (12:6-7; 13:32; 15:39). This becomes the central belief in the creeds of Christianity.’

Mark, The Servant King, Paul Barnett, 1991, p.163-4

‘The great glimpse into glory came for a select group of disciples—Peter, James, and John.

The locale of the event is uncertain. Mt. Hermon (9,200 ft.) and Mt. Meron (about 4,000 ft.) are the most likely candidates because the traditional site of Mt. Tabor (1,900 ft.) is not all that high and was inhabited by a fortress at this time, making it an unlikely spot for such a private experience.

As is common in Luke, the scene takes place in the context of prayer. Jesus is transformed before them into a dazzling, bright form wearing glistening white garments, a description indicative of glory (see Dan. 7:9; 12:3; 2 Baruch 51.3,5, 10,12; Enoch 38.4; 62:15-16; 104.2; Rev. 3:5; 4:4; 7:9).

With him were Moses and Elijah (Mark has them in the reverse order), who probably represent the law and the eschaton, because Elijah was anticipated as the prophet of the end (Mal. 4:5; Sir. 48:10).

The three are engaged in discussion. Only Luke indicates the topic: Jesus’ “exodus,” which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem.

Glory and suffering both are central to who Jesus is.’


‘According to Matthew, the voice causes the disciples to fall down in fear, but Jesus tells them to rise and not to fear. As his disciples, they have access to God’s presence. Then they were alone with Jesus.

The glimpse of glory was over.

  • Matthew and Mark note how Jesus instructed them to say nothing about this event until the Son of Man is raised.
  • Mark notes that they kept the matter to themselves.
  • Luke does not discuss the command but mentions that they were silent in those days about what they had seen.

Again the silence is requested because they still have much to learn before they can appreciate what it is that they have seen.’

Jesus According to Scripture, Darrell Bock, Baker Academic, p.234

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