Friday, April 29, 2011


As it seems with many of the events portrayed by the Gospel writers, the description of the Transfiguration, which obviously occurred only once, varies greatly between "reporters." Watching many of the modern television crime shows has taught me that when two or three "witnesses" give the exact same statement, it is likely that they are participating in a conspiracy. Certainly no one could ever seriously believe the Gospel writers conspired to convince others that Jesus was the resurrected Messiah of Israel; their "recollections" of what they saw or heard from others varies too greatly. As I said previously, none of the Synoptic Gospel writers were present at Christ's Transfiguration, and the one qualified witness, John, said nothing about it. It is possible that even Matthew did not learn of it until after Christ's Ascension, because Peter, James, and John were told not to tell others of what they had experienced (Matt. 17:9; Mk. 9:9; Lk. 9:36).

It does not take the reader long to see the three writers wrote independently of one another. The first verse of each of the "witness statements" differs. Matthew wrote that it happened "after six days," as did Mark, but Luke said it was after about eight days (Matt. 17:1; Mk. 9:2; Lk. 9:28). Matthew mentions His face being "as the sun," Mark does not mention His face, and Luke speaks only of His countenance being "altered" (Matt. 17:2; Mk. 9:2-3; Lk. 9:28). All three writers mention the impetuous Peter wanting to build "tabernacles," while Luke adds that the chosen three were asleep (Matt. 17:4; Mk. 9:5; Lk. 9:32). Only Matthew includes the words, "in Whom I am well pleased" to the voice of the Father, and that the three fell on their faces out of fear (Matt. 17:5-6). Luke describes the voice as coming from a cloud which had apparently engulfed them (Lk. 9:34-35). And finally, only Matthew mentions that prophecy, Elijah would come before the Messiah, could have been fulfilled with the appearance of John the Baptist (Matt. 17:13). This is a perfect example of how three "witnesses" could report the same incident differently, and yet, all were accurate. None of them contradicts the others; they simply include additional facts.

It is not exactly clear as to why Jesus told them to keep what they witnessed to themselves. He had done so before with the demons (Mk 1:41-45; 3:9-10; Lk. 4:41), those He had healed (Matt. 8:4; 9:30; Mk. 5:43), and now, He was telling three of the men He had sent out to proclaim the Gospel of the kingdom, to keep silent. Perhaps it was for the same reason Jesus began speaking in parables; He did not want to reveal those truths to His enemies (Matt. 13:10-11). It is clear that Jesus needed to be careful not to reveal too much about Himself, because He needed time to finish His mission (Jn. 7:6-10).

The Transfiguration does not get the attention of His Virgin Birth, His Crucifixion, His Resurrection, or His Ascension, but perhaps it should. After all, it is not every day that the Son of God manifests Himself in the form in which He will return to rule His earthly kingdom (Rev. 1:13-15; 19:12). Amen!

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