The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ – Guest Article by Daniel Rogers – #2
This is the second installment of an excellent article by Daniel Rogers on the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ. Be sure to read the first article.
Jesus: Glorified or Mortified?
The word mortified can mean “embarrassed,” but it can also mean “subdued by self-denial.” I’m using it in the latter way to describe Jesus’ willingness to ‘deny’ the glory of being “equal with God” and taking on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:6-7). Self-denial is not a shameful thing that one aught to be embarrassed about when it is done to raise others up – as Jesus did and as we are expected to do – or to better oneself (such as to lose weight or overcome addiction).
Jesus’ transfigured state is a spiritual one. Notice particularly that the descriptions of Jesus use similes to denote likeness. This same style of language is used in the book of Revelation. The reason being that the magnificence of the spiritual realm can never be perfectly described with fleshly, human terms. The description of Jesus in the transfiguration account is the same as descriptions of Jesus post-ascension in Revelation 1:13-19.
…and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades…” (Revelation 1:13-18).
Prior to Jesus’ death on the cross, He made a request to God that He return to the glorified state that He had prior to taking on flesh: “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” (John 17:5). God is a spirit as Jesus said in John 4:24, so this state is a spiritual one. Peter asserted that the transfiguration was a picture of the coming of the Lord, so it can be deduced from this that the coming of the Lord is a spiritual event. On this matter, Jesus said that He would “come in the glory of His father” (Matthew 16:27). In the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament, the glory of God was often represented in a cloud. This was true in the Exodus, in Isaiah 19:1, and even here in the transfiguration event. When Jesus proclaims, therefore, that He would come in the clouds, no serious Bible student should be surprised (Matthew 24:29-31; Revelation 1:7).
Jesus, Moses, and Elijah Coexist for a Time
As Peter was an eyewitness of His majesty, so were Moses and Elijah (2 Peter 1:16-18; Revelation 11:3-12). These two men of God stood for the Law and the Prophets respectively, and the Law and the Prophets certainly testified against Israel time and time again. Their relationship to Jesus is not one of hostility, but it is symbiotic. As some scholars like to say, “The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.” A consistent application of that profound idea renders powerful results. If Moses and Elijah are representatives of the Law and the Prophets, Jesus is the representative of the New Covenant. Concerning the relationship between Jesus’ work and the law, Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17-18).
Not One Stroke
The message of Matthew 5:17-18 is one of exceeding importance: none of Law or the Prophets will pass away until every word is fulfilled. Included in the Prophets, as seen earlier, is the prophecy of the day of the Lord. The following syllogisms will explain the importance of this.
|The Law and the Prophets predict the day of the Lord following John the Baptist.
The day of the Lord following John the Baptist is an event that would take place in Peter’s future (Acts 2:16-21).
The Law and the Prophets predict an event that would take place in Peter’s future (Acts 2:16-21).
Using the conclusion from the above syllogism, the syllogism below can be formed.
|None of the Law and the Prophets could pass until all of it would be fulfilled.
All of it would be fulfilled sometime in Peter’s future.
None of the Law and the Prophets could pass until sometime in Peter’s future.
Now to wrap it all up.
|Peter preached while the New Covenant was active.
The Law and the Prophets were active while Peter preached.
The Law and the Prophets were active while the New Covenant was active.
Therefore, the lesson taught through the transfiguration of Jesus Christ concerning the coexistence of Jesus, Moses, and Elijah is true.
When Were the Law and Prophets Fulfilled?
In the above section, it was established that the Law and the Prophets would not pass away until some time after the sermon of Peter in Acts 2, so the question begs to be asked, “When were the Law and the Prophets fulfilled?” The answer to this question will naturally lead to the (3) point in the introduction of this essay. There are two main passages to notice regarding the fulfillment of prophecy: Luke 21:22 and Revelation 10:7.
|But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people; and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:20-24)|
Here Jesus connects the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 to the fulfillment of all things written. This includes the day of the Lord of Malachi 4:1, the resurrection of Daniel 12:2, and the coming of the Lord of Malachi 3:1-2. When this is considered thoroughly, it makes sense. In AD 70, everything that distinguished the Jews from the rest of the world was destroyed: the temple fell and Jerusalem was destroyed. Thus, it makes sense that this would be the time when the Law and the Prophets would pass away.
|Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, WHO CREATED HEAVEN AND THE THINGS IN IT, AND THE EARTH AND THE THINGS IN IT, AND THE SEA AND THE THINGS IN IT, that there will be delay no longer, but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets. (Revelation 10:5-7).|
The King James renders a part of this passage, “…time shall be no more.” This has led to many blunders in popular hymns that speak of the time when “the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more.” However, the rendering above is truer to the Greek as both Robertson and Vincent point out in their respective word studies. The seventh angel sounds announcing that the mystery of God that was given to the prophets was finished. So, when did this take place? The answer is found in the eleventh chapter of Revelation. While some view Revelation as near impossible to understand, and some preachers even avoid teaching Revelation except the occasional reference to the streets of gold or Revelation 2:10, Revelation can be understood if Christians use the knowledge that is found elsewhere in the Bible. The best commentary on Revelation is not the modern newspaper, but other Scriptures that help explain the contents of Revelation as well as a little common sense.
Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, “Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. “Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.” (Revelation 11:1-2).
There are no less than five indicators in this passage as to the identity of the city: (1) this city is the location of the temple, (2) the city is the location of the alter, (3) the Gentiles would trample it for forty-two months, (4) the city is called the Holy City, and (5) John is told to measure the city in the same way that it was in Ezekiel and Zechariah. Here are the facts concerning the five points above:
- The temple of God was in Jerusalem.
- The alter was in Jerusalem.
- Jerusalem was under attack by the Romans from AD66½ to AD70.
- Jerusalem is the only city called the holy city besides the New Jerusalem (Nehemiah 11:1; Isaiah 52:1; Matthew 4:5; Matthew 27:53).
- The city under consideration in Ezekiel and Zechariah is Jerusalem (Ezekiel 40:3-5, 42:15-20; Zechariah 6:14-16).
If this couldn’t be any clearer, John further records in Revelation 11:8, “And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.” Jesus, of course, was crucified just outside the walls of Jerusalem. In fact, Jesus said, “Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet would perish outside of Jerusalem” (Luke 13:33). The city under consideration in Revelation, therefore, is Jerusalem.
Keeping in mind that the seventh angel’s trumpet marks the finishing of the mystery that was preached to the prophets, Revelation 11 goes on to say that Jerusalem is judged at the time of the seventh trumpet.
|And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe is past; behold, the third woe is coming quickly. Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. “And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.” (Revelation 11:13-18).|
Notice that at the judgment of this city, the kingdom arrives, the dead are judged, and the prophets are rewarded. This situates the time of the fulfillment of all prophecies, as Luke 21 did, at the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
 “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” by James M Black (1893).
 Robertson’s Word Pictures (1930). Vincent’s Word Studies (1887). Both are available for free online.
Be sure to get a copy of Don K. Preston’s book, Like Father Like Son, On Clouds of Glory, for a fuller discussion of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ. It is a heart stirring, theologically significant event in scripture!