Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine
The story of the transfiguration follows the first prophecy of Jesus' passion, death, and resurrection and his commission to the disciples to take up their cross and follow him.The transfiguration establishes Jesus' divinity, his unique relationship with God. It's like the relationship that Moses and Elijah had with God. One of the major dynamics of this story is that all of the memories associated with Moses and Elijah are brought into the story of Jesus. Jesus’ transformation is thereby connected with the transformations of Moses and Elijah.
The precedent for Jesus’ transfiguration and shining clothes is Moses' shining face.Moses' face shines because he has been talking with God. At one point in that story,Aaron and the elders of Israel are afraid to even speak with Moses. (Exodus 34:29-30, 33,35) Moses put a veil over his face so that people would be able to talk to him without being overwhelmed by the divine presence of his shining face. Jesus’ transfiguration is like the transfiguration of Moses. But in Jesus’ story, it's not just his face but also his clothes and everything about him. It's like Moses but more so. This story also evokes memories of the stories of Elijah. When he is taken up into heaven, he is standing with Elisha and a fiery chariot with horses separates them.
The chariot gathers up Elijah and takes him in a whirlwind up into heaven. (II Kings 2.1-18) Thereafter, the spirit of Elijah rested on Elisha. (II Kings 2.15) The implication of this story is that the spirit of Moses and Elijah rests upon Jesus.
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