In my last post I looked at what was actually taking place in reference to Jesus’ announcement in Matthew 16 regarding the gates of hell. Here we will look at the significance of Jesus transfiguration from two perspectives. The significance of the geographic location and the significance of the timeline in Jesus earthly ministry.
Like the famous Schwarzenegger movie line, “I’ll be back!” or Nicholson’s “You want the truth, you can’t handle the truth!” another famous movie line came from Clint Eastwood, “Go ahead, make my day.” A line that provoked a response. This is what took place on Mount Hermon, provocation by Jesus, and a response. Understanding this requires a bit of background information. In my recent posts I referenced the descent of some of these fallen supernatural beings, principalities and powers, at Mount Hermon. This was their entry point or gateway to physicality and the further corruption of humanity.
They had taken on flesh and interacted with humanity at Bashan/Hermon. This was their territory. In Matthew 16 Jesus had announced that He would build His church right at the gate of hell, taking back territory from them. Now Jesus goes further. Matthew 17 presents us with the transfiguration and describes it as follows.
1 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Matthew 17:1–3 (NKJV)
Jesus unveiled His glory so that there was no doubt about who He was and He had a meeting with Moses and Elijah, who represent the Law and the Prophets, the Old Testament. Though Bashan/Hermon is not named in the text, it is the only high peak in the area (There is presently a ski hill there that operates in the winter months).
In unveiling His glory on what the spiritual opposition considered their territory Jesus was in effect saying, “Go ahead, make my day” and stirring up spiritual opposition. Knowing the fate awaiting Him at Jerusalem, in being transfigured on Mount Hermon Jesus poked the hornets’ nest and stirred up the spiritual opposition that brought about His crucifixion, leading to His glorious resurrection.
We see the opposition intensify immediately with a counter attack. As soon as Jesus, Peter, James and John descended from the mountain they encounter spiritual opposition in the form of a failure on the part of the other apostles to deliver and heal an epileptic boy. While Jesus immediately brough healing and freedom (Matthew 17:14-18), the previously successful apostles (Mark 6:7-13, Luke 9:1-6) were puzzled by their lack of success (Matthew 17:19). The battle had intensified. In Jesus bringing healing and deliverance to the boy He demonstrated His authority and power over the increased opposition, another provocation.
We know from Luke 9:31 that in addition to being transfigured Jesus discussed His pending death in Jerusalem with Moses and Elijah, He knew what He was doing. These events were a turning point in the gospel narrative. Jesus from here headed to Jerusalem, had His triumphal entry (Palm Sunday) followed by the rising spiritual and political opposition leading to His arrest and crucifixion. Though Jesus provoked these events to fulfill scripture and His purpose, our redemption, the principalities and powers did not understand what was happening until it was too late. Paul references this in 1 Corinthians.
6 However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 1 Corinthians 2:6–8 (NKJV)
When Paul speaks of the “rulers of this age” he is referencing the evil principalities and powers that opposed Jesus. He uses the same language in Ephesians 6:12 describing the principalities and powers as, “the rulers of the darkness of this age”
In conclusion, Jesus provoked the conflict that led to His crucifixion because He was serving a higher purpose and seeing what needed to transpire from the perspective of His Father. In our walk we may at times need to stir things up, not for the sake of controversy but to walk in obedience. Let’s be found faithful and use our authority to demonstrate and extend His kingdom on the earth.
If you would like more information on these ideas, some of what I have written about recently is covered in the videos series below where Michael Heiser teaches on the origin and significance of what is referred to by many as the Divine Council Worldview (DCW). Dr. Heiser readily acknowledges that while these views are not well known, they are not original to him but are rooted in the extensive writings we now have from the writings of the intertestamental period and are the culture in which our faith was birthed.
Video series with Dr. Heiser teaching – https://www.live-in-context.com/