Luke 9:28-36 – The Transfiguration
SummaryAs Jesus prays on a mountain, his face and clothing become transformed. Moses and Elijah appear and converse with him. When Peter offers a confused response, God speaks to him, John, and James, declaring Jesus to be God's Son.
AnalysisThis bizarre scene is more evocative than descriptive. Although its details do not provide a complete picture or a full explanation, it is a powerful symbolic moment in the Gospel. The scene's position within the overall sweep of Luke helps reveal its significance. Jesus has just predicted his suffering, death, and resurrection for the first time and has issued a radical call to those who seek to be his followers (Luke 9:18-27). He is about to commence his journey toward Jerusalem, where he will be killed (Luke 9:51). At this point in the narrative, then, the transfiguration divinely confirms Jesus' understanding of his fate. Moses and Elijah, two prophets from Israel's history who each also met with God on top of a mountain, speak about what Jesus must do in Jerusalem. The appearance of these two figures may also serve as an echo of biblical promises concerning future days (see Deuteronomy 18:16-20 and Malachi 4:4-6). The transfiguration is not about offering encouragement to Jesus; it is about instructing the disciples who witness it. The voice that comes from the cloud (a familiar representation of God's presence) addresses them, not Jesus.