Matthew 17: The Transforming Word

This chapter is maybe best known for the Transfiguration.  N. T. Wright does something nice here in his translation by avoiding the archaic word “transfigure” in 17:2 and he uses the more common word for the Greek word metamorpho here, “transformed.”  Jesus was “transformed.”  This is the same word in Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18, two popular verses.

Interestingly, the experience of the Transfiguration did not transform the apostles understanding about John the Baptist.  Jesus used the prophetic image of “Elijah” coming again in the last days (17:11-12), but maybe because Peter, James and John has just seen the real, historical Elijah they were stuck on that one.  It was not their incredible experience that changed their understanding, it was the words of Jesus that helped them realize he was really talking about John the Baptist as a “new Elijah.”

But let me tell you this. . . . Then the disciples realized that he was talking to them about John the Baptist. (17:12-13)

They were changed by words, not just an experience.

We saw this back one chapter ago, too.  Jesus had told the disciples to be careful of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees (16:5) and they thought he was talking about bread.  They had had a lot of experience with bread around that time with the two miraculous feedings, but they didn’t realize what Jesus was really talking about until he spoke an explanation to them.

Then they understood that he wasn’t telling them to beware of the leaven you get in bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (16:12)

I am enough of a postmodernist to really appreciate experiences.  I am a Bible student by training, but I want more than just words.  I was right there in the late 1990s putting down J. I. Packer’s Knowing God and picking up Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God because I wanted more than just knowledge of God.  I experience God in special ways in praise and worship, in service to the poor, and in the laughter and intimacy of true fellowship with believers.

Still there are many times that full understanding only really comes for me from the words of Jesus.  My heart is made tender by experience, but the words are what create true transformation.  For us today, that means an open Bible.  I am so appreciative that you have decided to be a part of this reading community.  I learn from you as you share, and simply the knowledge that you read (most importantly) your Bibles and (secondarily) this blog keeps me accountable and on track.  Then, God does with His words what only He can do: He transforms you and me by the “renewing our our minds.”

What struck you in this chapter?   

Categories: Matthew | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Post navigation

9 thoughts on “Matthew 17: The Transforming Word

  1. “This is my Son, WHOM I LOVE; with him I am well pleased.”
    – Matthew 3:17

    “This is my Son, WHOM I LOVE; with him I am well pleased.
    LISTEN to him!”
    – Matthew 17:5

    Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here;
    if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here,
    one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

    How dare Peter level down Jesus with and Moses, Elijah!

    @”What struck you in this chapter?”

    LISTEN TO HIM (Jesus)
    NOT THEM (Moses, Elijah)

    “the law was given by Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus”
    – John 1:17

    some ignores the grace of God and embrace the Law instead
    Jesus, who is grace in person is the one whom pleasing to God,
    and not Moses nor Elijah.

    imagine God giving His BELOVED Son, only to be ignored?

    wew. I didn’t mean to be dramatic. 🙂

  2. And somehow by listening to Jesus we end up doing what Moses and Elijah were really saying.

    • @”And somehow by listening to Jesus we end up doing
      what Moses and Elijah were really saying.”
      I got the wit, Jason hahahah. nice one 🙂

  3. just a though.

    could it be that Moses and Elijah were the two guys mentioned in revelation?

    • Which two are you thinking of from Revelation?

      • The Two Witnesses

        Revelation 11

        3. And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy
        for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth

        6. They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not
        rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power
        to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every
        kind of plague as often as they want.

        • wordpress is bugged, comments are popping on wrong pages

          heres your reply 🙂

          @”Never made that connection before, but I think you are spot on.
          Add the fire in v.5 to as an echo of the Elijah story.
          Cool! Thanks for pointing that out. “

  4. “Elijah has already come but they didn’t know him when they saw him. They treated him like dirt, the same way they are about to treat the Son of Man.”

    So why do I expect to be praised and well-liked? Not thinking straight.

  5. Eddy

    “Because you’re not yet taking God seriously,” Not that YOU aren’t Jason. This is just the line that stold out to me. 😄 I do wonder this about myself sometimes though.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: