Matthew 17:1–8: “Listen to Him!”
After Jesus transitioned toward teaching his disciples about the full nature of his sufferings, we may have expected an uninterrupted course of trial and difficulty on the way to the cross. Instead, Jesus immediately reveals his glory on the mountain of transfiguration. Through this, Matthew portrays Jesus’ sufferings as an integral part of his glory. More than that, we also find in this story an important insight into making sense of the glorious vision that we read about from a distance of thousands of years and thousands of miles. Here, we learn to listen to Jesus as we await his appearing.
1. What might the transitional statement in v. 1 (“after six days”) suggest about the connection between this passage and the previous passage? Why does Matthew want us to think about Christ’s sufferings and Christ’s glorification together? How does this passage remind us about various aspects of Moses’s covenant mediation at Mount Sinai? How should we understand the nature of Jesus’ glory in his transfiguration?
2. What should we make about the actual appearance of Moses and Elijah on the mountain (v. 3)? How might Moses and Elijah symbolize the Law and the Prophets, which Christ came to fulfill (Matt. 5:17)? What do you think that Moses and Elijah may have been “talking” about with Jesus? Why do you think Peter speaks (v. 4)? What do you think he means by the three “tents” that he suggests building?
3. How does the bright cloud remind us of Moses’ mediation of the covenant at Mount Sinai (v. 5a)? How does the cloud veil the glory of God? How has Jesus’ form as a servant veiled his glory up to this point? Why is it interesting that Matthew tells us “behold/look” regarding the “voice” from heaven (v. 5b)? Why do you think that God tells the disciples to “listen” to Jesus rather than to “look” at him?
4. Read 2 Peter 1:16–21. What does Peter speak about seeing as “eyewitnesses of his majesty” on the mountain? Why do you think he speaks so much about the voice he heard? How does Peter relate that to the “word of prophecy” in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments? In a passage about a glorious vision of Jesus’ transfigured, why do you think that the application points primarily toward listening to the Word of God?