Matthew 17

Jesus Christ is sealed of heaven as the beloved Son of God, glorious and mighty in His person, possessed of all power in heaven and earth, the Victor over death and the grave, yet to reign in glory. Genuine faith in Him and yieldedness to His power, moves the arm of omnipotence.

1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,

2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.

7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.

8 And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.

9 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.

10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?

11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.

12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.

13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

14 ¶ And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,

15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.

16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.

17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.

18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.

19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

22 ¶ And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men:

23 And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.

24 ¶ And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?

25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?

26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.

27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

Matthew 17:1-8 – ​Jesus Shows Divine Glory

   Moses’ face shone after having absorbed the divine glory, as some diamonds burn with sunlight after being carried into a dark room. Stephen’s face shone because for a moment he had seen the Son of man. But the face of our Lord shone, not from without but from within. The shekinah of His heart was for the most part hidden, but here it burst through the frail veil of flesh, John 1:14.
   The Apostle uses the same word when he says, “Be ye transformed,” Romans 12:2. He does not mean that for a brief moment we should see and reflect our Lord’s face. He wants us to enshrine Him in our hearts, and then to rid ourselves of all hindering veils, so that the light of the knowledge of the glory of God may make even the common garb of daily drudgery beautiful.
   This was the great climax of our Lord’s earthly life, when He definitely turned away from the glory that was set before Him, to endure the Cross for our redemption. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Matthew 17:2 – ​Come close to Him. He may take you today up into the mountain top, for where He took Peter with his blundering, and James and John, those sons of thunder, who again and again so utterly misunderstood their Master and His mission – there is not reason why He should not take you. You can hardly be farther back than they were. So don’t shut yourself out of it and say, “Ah, these wonderful visions and revelations of the Lord are for choice spirits, for an election within the election!” They may be for you. The Lord will come to those that are humble and of a contrite heart and who tremble at His Word. (McNeill)

Matthew 17:2 – ​If a thing reflects no light, it is black; if it reflects part of the rays, it is blue or indigo or red; but, if it reflects them all, it is white. If we are like Christ, we shall seek, not to absorb, but to reflect, the light which falls upon us from heaven upon others: and thus we shall become pure and spotless; for this is the meaning of the “white robes,” which the saints wear in glory. (Beecher)

Matthew 17:3—Behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with Him.

​   Luke tells us (Luke 9:31) that they “spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.” Moses as representing the Law, would remind Him that if as God’s Lamb He must die, yet as God’s Lamb He would redeem countless myriads. Elijah, as representative of the prophets, would dwell on the glory that would accrue to the Father. These thoughts were familiar enough to the mind of our blessed Master; yet they must have gladdened and strengthened Him, as they fell from other lips: the more so when they conversed together on the certain splendor of the resurrection morning that should follow his decease.
   And where could there have been found greater subjects than this wondrous death, and his glorious resurrection? Here the attributes of God find their most complete and most harmonious exemplification. Here the problems of human sin and salvation are met and solved. Here the travail of Creation meets with its answer and key. Here are sown the seeds of the new heavens and earth, in which shall dwell righteousness and peace. Here is the point of unity between all ages, all dispensations, all beings, all worlds. Here blend men and angels; departed spirits and the denizens of other spheres; Peter, James, and John, with Moses and Elijah, and all with the great God Himself, whose voice is heard falling in benediction from the opened heaven.
   We, too, must often climb the mount of transfiguration in holy reverie; for the nearer we get to the Cross, and the more we meditate upon the decease accomplished at Jerusalem, the closer we shall come into the center of things; the deeper will be our harmony with ourselves and all other noble spirits and with God Himself. —Our Daily Homily

Matthew 17:9-21 – ​Lack of Faith Rebuked

   As Raphael suggests in his great painting, there is a close connection between the mountain and the valley. The glory of the one did not make our Lord indifferent to the bitter need of the other. It seems as though He desired to impress on us the great truth, that we must have the seclusion and exaltation of communion with God before we can successfully deal with the anguish and terror that devastate human lives. See Matthew 17:21.
   In Matthew 17:17 our Lord grieves over the unbelief of His disciples. Though they had enjoyed His careful teaching, they had failed to grasp His secret, which He here again elaborates. Faith is openness to God. It is the lifting of the curtain, that the healing light may enter. The tiny seed unlocks its little doorway to welcome the entering life of nature; and as this continues to enter, it forces the rootlet downward and the green shoot upward. It is thus also with the life of God in the soul. Let this life of God in and there is no limit to what it will effect. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Matthew 17:22-27 – ​Pay Tribute Where It Is Due

   All Jews were required to pay the half-shekel for the maintenance of the Temple services. See Exodus 30:13. As God’s own Son, our Lord might surely have claimed exemption from taxation for His Father’s house. But He waived His claims, that He might not put a stumbling-block in the way of others. We must often conform to requirements that seem needless, because of the effect of our example on others who have not had the advantages of our illumination.
   In the miracle that followed, our Lord sweetly teaches that He is responsible for the expenses of those who have given up other means to livelihood in order to devote themselves to His service. It is as though we are encouraged to go to Him to meet the demands made on us for taxes of one kind and another. He will give us what we need, kindly classing Himself with us, not in two coins, but in one. Make Christ’s interest your aim; He will make your taxes His care. See I John 1:3. —Through the Bible Day by Day