Jesus’ Glorious Transfiguration
1Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, Jacob and John, and hiked up a high mountain to be alone. 2Then Jesus’ appearance was dramatically altered. A radiant light as bright as the sun poured from his face. And his clothing became luminescent—dazzling like lightning. # 17:2 Or “white as light.” He was transfigured # 17:2 Moses also went up Sinai’s mountain and received an impartation of glory. His face shone and had to be veiled. The transfiguration of Jesus is also part of our destiny, for the same Greek word is used twice for believers being transfigured by the renewing of our minds and by the glory of Christ within us that will complete our transformation into Christ’s image. See Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18. before their very eyes. 3Then suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared, # 17:3 Moses represented the Law and Elijah represented the Prophets. Both Moses and Elijah were associated with Mount Sinai (Horeb), both had a ministry of performing astounding miracles, and both had unusual circumstances surrounding their passing from this life into glory. and they spoke with Jesus.
4Peter blurted out, “Lord, it’s so wonderful that we are all here together! If you want, I’ll construct three shrines, # 17:4 Or “tabernacles,” which speaks of the booths made to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” # 17:4 The Hebrew Matthew adds this line: “because he [Peter] did not know what he was saying.”
5But while Peter was still speaking, a bright radiant cloud spread over them, enveloping them all. # 17:5 See Acts 5:15. The Greek word translated “overshadow” is episkiazo, which is used exclusively for the power of the Almighty “overshadowing,” such as Mary, who conceived Jesus supernaturally by God. See also Mark 9:7; Luke 1:35. This was not a natural shadow created by the light of the sun, but the supernatural overshadowing of God’s power. Jesus will appear again in these clouds of glory. See Matt. 16:27; 24:30; 26:64. And God’s voice suddenly spoke from the cloud, saying, “This is my dearly loved Son, the constant focus of my delight. # 17:5 Or “He is the one on whom my favor rests.” Listen to him!” # 17:5 Or “You must constantly listen to him.” See Ps. 2:7; Isa. 42:1.
6The three disciples were dazed # 17:6 Implied by the Hebrew Matthew, which can be translated “They were asleep and not asleep; they were awake but not awake.” and terrified by this phenomenon, and they fell facedown to the ground. 7But Jesus walked over and touched them, saying, “Get up and stop being afraid.” 8When they finally opened their eyes and looked around, they saw no one else there but Jesus. # 17:8 The Greek is quite emphatic: “They saw only him, and him alone.”
9As they all hiked down the mountain together, Jesus ordered them, “Don’t tell anyone of the divine appearance # 17:9 Or “supernatural vision.” The Greek word used here (horama) does not refer to an imaginary vision, but an actual one. It points to a theophany, an appearing of God. you just witnessed. Wait until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.”
10His disciples asked him, “Why do all the religious scholars insist that Elijah must first appear before the Anointed One comes?”
11He answered them, “They’re right. Elijah must come first and restore all things. 12But Elijah has already appeared. And yet they didn’t recognize him, so they did to him whatever they pleased. And the Son of Man is destined to suffer the same abuse as what they did to him.”
13Then the disciples realized that Jesus was referring to John the Baptizer all along. # 17:13 Jesus was comparing Elijah with John the Baptist. John was not Elijah reincarnated, but the Spirit upon Elijah was the Spirit upon John. John, the forerunner, ministered in the spirit and power of Elijah. The same anointing of Elijah is present today to restore all things. (See Acts 3:21.) The Bible scholars had properly concluded that Elijah must come first, but failed to interpret it figuratively. This is often repeated today with biblical prophecies. We need the Spirit of Christ to help us understand even the basic truths of the Bible.
Unbelief Hinders Healing
14They came to where a large crowd had gathered to wait for Jesus. A man came and knelt before him 15and said, “Lord, please show your tender mercy toward my son. He has a demon who afflicts him. # 17:15 Although not in the Greek text, it is implied in the context (v. 18). The Hebrew Matthew states three times in this pericope (vv. 15, 18, 21) that the boy had a demon. He has epilepsy, and he suffers horribly from seizures. He often falls into the cooking fire or into the river. # 17:15 The Hebrew Matthew is “He grinds his teeth and foams at the mouth.” 16I brought him to your followers, but they weren’t able to heal him.”
17Jesus replied, “Where is your faith? Can’t you see how wayward and wrong this generation is? # 17:17 The Hebrew Matthew adds a sentence here: “Woe to those who deny me!” How much longer do I stay with you and put up with your doubts? Bring your son to me.”
18Then Jesus rebuked the demon and it came out of him and the boy was instantly healed!
19Later the disciples came to him privately and asked, “Why couldn’t we cast out the demon?”
20He told them, “It was because of your lack of faith. I promise you, if you have faith inside of you no bigger than the size of a small mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move away from here and go over there,’ and you will see it move! # 17:20 Jesus compares faith to a small seed that grows into a large shrub. Faith will grow as it feeds on spiritual truth found in the Bible. A mountain can also be a symbol of a kingdom. Mountain-moving faith brings the power of God’s kingdom to the earth. See also 1 Cor. 13:2. There is nothing you couldn’t do! # 17:20 Or “Nothing will be beyond your power.” The Aramaic can be translated “Nothing is higher or stronger than you.” 21But this kind is cast out only through prayer and fasting.” # 17:21 As translated from the Hebrew Matthew, Aramaic, and some Greek manuscripts. Many reliable Greek manuscripts do not have this verse, and it is not included in many modern translations.
Jesus Prophesies Again of His Death and Resurrection
22When they all gathered together # 17:22 The Greek word is “twisted together like strands of a rope.” in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed and turned over to his enemies. 23They will kill him and in three days he will be resurrected.” When the disciples heard these words they were devastated.
The Miracle of a Coin in a Fish’s Mouth
24After they arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and asked, “Does your teacher pay the tax for the upkeep of the temple, like the rest of us?” # 17:24 This was known as “head tax.” See also Ex. 30:13–16; 38:26; Neh. 10:32–33. The word pay (vv. 24, 25, 27) is the same word Jesus spoke on the cross, “It is finished (paid in full).” Jesus paid it all so that we would be set free.
25“Of course he does,” Peter answered.
When Peter walked into the house, and before he had a chance to speak, Jesus spoke up and said, “Peter, I have a question for you. Who pays tolls or taxes to a king? Is tax collected from the king’s own children, or from his subjects?”
26“From his subjects,” Peter answered.
Jesus replied, “That’s right. The children get off free without paying taxes. 27But so that we don’t offend them, go to the lake and throw out your hook, and the first fish that rises up # 17:27 This miracle is a picture of the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. The depth of the sea speaks to us of the depth of suffering Jesus passed through for us on the cross. Note that the fish rose to the surface on its own; it was not “caught.” In the mouth of our Lord Jesus is the full price of our sin debt, for he has declared the work of redemption finished, and our “tax” has been paid in full. Now we have that same message in our mouths. will have a coin in its mouth. It will be the exact amount you need to pay the temple tax for both of us.” # 17:27 Peter made a presumptuous statement to the tax collectors that Jesus would pay the temple tax. But Peter didn’t ask Jesus first; he just said to them, “Of course!” Yet Jesus still backed up Peter’s word and performed a miracle to pay the tax. In this somewhat amusing account, Jesus got Peter “off the hook” by having him hook a fish with the exact amount of the tax for both Jesus and Peter. See 1 Cor. 3:16.