The Gospel of Matthew

This devotional is written by Matt Coombs. Matt is one of the leaders at St Mary's and is married to Pip.

Matthew 17:1-13

The transfiguration

17 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

4 Peter said to Jesus, 'Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters - one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.'

5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!'

6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. 'Get up,' he said. 'Don't be afraid.' 8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, 'Don't tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.'

10 The disciples asked him, 'Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?'

11 Jesus replied, 'To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognise him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.' 13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.


The transfiguration represents the time where Jesus' earthly ministry was coming to an end. He knew who he was, the Messiah, the Son of God, and as we read yesterday he knew that his destiny was to die. Six days later he takes a few of his close friends up a mountain where his body is transformed and shines as brightly as the sun.

The Psalmist writes that God wraps himself in light (104:2); in Daniel, God is said to wear clothes as white as snow (7:9). The transfiguration is the divine confirmation of Jesus' identity. He is God and the disciples see before them the one who left heaven's glory to come to earth.

For the disciples present, this was an incredible and terrifying experience (v6).

It can be like that for us too sometimes. You may have your own mountain top experiences with God that expanded your view of who he is and his power to change situations. But do you notice how short the event seems to be, as quickly as it started, it was over (v8).

In some ways it is what happens next that is more interesting. I'm jumping ahead into tomorrow's reading but Jesus and his disciples are back healing and delivering demons. While we wouldn't describe that as mundane, that is part of their somewhat painful daily routine.

There is a stark contrast between the glory of the mountain top and the daily struggle and slog. I wonder how our own mountain top moments inform the way we approach our daily routines. Do they lead to greater expectancy? Do they remind us that God is much bigger, much more powerful than the struggles we face?

Remind yourself of all that God has done in your life. See Jesus for who he truly is, full of power. Open yourself to his Spirit and go into this day with a fresh perspective.

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