Jesus took Peter, James, and John to the top of a high mountain, where they could be alone. As they watched, Jesus was changed. His face shone like the sun, His clothes became as white as the light.
Moses and Elijah, appeared to talk with Him; two Old Testament heroes, with no memorial on this earth. Moses had been buried by God in a secret place, and Elijah had been taken to Heaven in a whirlwind.
As Peter exclaimed to Jesus about what was unfolding, a brilliant cloud swept over them, and a Voice said “This is my dearly loved Son, Who brings me great joy. Listen to Him.”
The three terrified disciples fell on their faces to the ground, but Jesus came over to them and touched them. “Get up,” He said, “Don’t be afraid.” And as they stood to their feet, only Jesus was with them.
We may never know the full significance of this story, but there are several truths that stand out. In the beginning of the book of Revelation, John describes meeting Jesus, Who was so glorious, so bright, that John fell at His feet as a dead man. Then, too, Jesus touched him, and said, “Don’t be afraid.” The Glorious Jesus, Whose face shone like the sun, Whose clothes were white like the light, is the real Jesus. The Man Who walked in Galilee, Who was known as a local boy in Nazareth who became a carpenter and then a teacher– was actually God in disguise.
Secondly, as Oswald Chambers pointed out, the mountaintop meeting between God the Father and Jesus was a crossroads. Jesus had walked this earth as a perfect man, in obedience to God, without sin. He had justified His Father, had triumphed where Adam had failed. He could, at the moment of transfiguration, have been received back to Heaven, a testament to the Righteousness of God in His creation of mankind.
Instead, He stayed. The cloud disappeared, Moses and Elijah left, and Jesus reached out His comforting hand and calming voice to the terrified disciples. He went with them, down the mountainside, to be met in the valley by a boy possessed by a powerful demon. Why would He do that?
He came down from that mountaintop to suffer and die on the cross, to be the sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. Had He gone to Heaven from the mount of Transfiguration, He would have gone alone. At that point, He was the only sinless one; it was at the cross that He bore the sin of the whole world, that He satisfied the righteousness of God, and achieved the right to offer forgiveness to all who will believe. In His decision to come down from the brilliance of the presence of God to the darkness of the demon inhabited valley, He made it possible for us to enter Heaven with Him.