Matthew 17

The transfiguration of Jesus is one of the most amazing stories in the Bible. It is the most significant event in the earthly ministry of Jesus between His birth and crucifixion.

On “a high mountain” (probably Mt. Hermon), in full view of Peter, James, and John, Jesus’ appearance was dramatically altered. “Transfigured” (v.2) means a metamorphosis occurred, a change in form.

The glorious divine nature of Jesus, which was concealed within His human flesh was allowed — for a few brief moments — to shine through. The scene in verse 2 reminds me of John’s later vision of Jesus in Revelation 1:14-16. (He fainted that time, too.)

For the rest of their lives, these disciples would look back to that moment as undeniable proof that Jesus was not just godly. He was not just a reflection of God. But He was God Himself!

In verses 14-20 Jesus demonstrated His power over demons. With a simple “rebuke” the Son of God expelled the demon and instantly healed the boy. The disciples had tried to do it, but they had failed. Their faith was too small for the task.

The final section of this chapter (v.24-27) records the familiar story of Peter paying his taxes (and Jesus’ too) with a coin miraculously found in a fish. The teaching that is often overlooked here is not necessarily that Jesus paid His taxes or that He could make coins appear in fish.

I believe the point of the story is that Jesus could have exempted Himself from paying any taxes. After all, as King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus owns everything and He is in charge of everything. But (v.27) He was willing to lay aside His right as God so that He would not “offend” the very people He was trying to reach.

There is a lesson for us here: Jesus endured things He didn’t have to endure, and He submitted Himself to authorities that had no authority over Him. Why? For the sake of the gospel. He wanted people to hear His saving message.

For the sake of the gospel we don’t offend, we don’t demand our rights, and we don’t trample on people’s feelings as we follow Jesus. True disciples don’t create obstacles for people to get to Jesus, we remove them.