Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” And the disciples asked him, “Why, then, do the scribes say Elijah must come first?” He replied, “Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.
The Transfiguration. It’s so important bother literally and symbolically, but I know I understand so little about it. I mean, what an important moment! Jesus reveals Himself to Peter, James, and John in His, I don’t know, Divine form? And at the same time God Himself declares Jesus as His Son, and tells the disciples to listen to him. Jesus tells them to not tell anybody, but it’s not like anyone would have believed them anyway. What a remarkable experience!
Moses and Elijah have more symbolic relevance. Moses represents the Law, and Elijah represents the Prophets. But more than that, they were the greatest prophets of all time, and they were closer to God than anyone else in history. Jesus talking to them, as well as Peter’s suggestion that each should get a house on the mountain, sends the message that Jesus is equal to those men. Keep in mind, Matthew was written for the Jews. Comparing Jesus to Moses and Elijah would have been a really big deal to them.
For that same reason, calling John the Baptist Elijah was also a big deal. The Jews had been waiting for Elijah to return for centuries. But I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that if they didn’t recognize Elijah, they wouldn’t have recognized the Messiah either.
Bottom line of this story: Jesus was God’s Son. God was pleased with His teachings, so we need to LISTEN TO THEM! Not just hear, listen.