The Three Disciples


Peter, writing about thirty years after the event, speaks of what he saw on the ‘holy mount’, 2 Pet. 1. 16-18. Although everything was still vivid in his mind, he never mentions the three tabernacles, nor his fellow disciples, nor himself. There was not even a word about Moses and Elijah, great men revered by the typical Jew; he only spoke of Christ - that was all that mattered to him! Peter certainly learned from his mistakes. Peter had repented and he was not only forgiven, but also was inspired to write two Epistles that were to remain on record for the challenge and encouragement of the people of God in every generation. Are we willing to forgive those who have made mistakes but who have sought forgiveness?

Transfigured before them

The disciples saw something of Christ revealed to them that they had not seen before. He was, literally, changed to another form. ‘His countenance was altered’, Luke 9. 29. In our everyday language we speak of metamorphosis when considering the changing of the caterpillar to a chrysalis and ultimately to a butterfly.

Face … shone as the sun

Matthew chapter 17 verse 2 states, ‘his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light’. We notice that the Lord’s face did shine as the sun, and as the light -not from the sun! What those three disciples saw was no mere reflection or mirage. It was His own intrinsic glory, that which shone from within His skin. What a contrast to Moses after being in the divine presence, Exod. 34. 29-35; Moses’ face shone, but this was not Moses’ own glory. It was an absorbed or reflected glory from an outside source - the divine presence!

There is a lesson for us here. Being alone in the presence of God had an effect on Peter and on Moses, and it will have an effect on us today - it will affect what we are and how we live. When out of the immediate presence of God, those features will fade - we need to be constantly in His presence so that we can radiate Christ all the time.

Moses and Elijah

These were great men of God, men that stood out in their generation. Moses represented the law and Elijah represented the prophets. Peter recognized them both, although he had never seen either before. Moses and Elijah appeared together, although on earth they never knew each other, having lived centuries apart! Moses had viewed the promised land from afar before his death but had never been in the land up until this point.

Certain features are prominent in the lives of these two men who were both greatly used of God. They were both associated with the altar and with prayer. The altar speaks of sacrifice and offering - what do we bring to God and what has it cost us? Prayer speaks of dependence. Are we totally dependent on God and His leading via His word?

Fasting and controlling

Moses, Elijah, and Christ all fasted forty days and all three controlled waters. Moses stretched his rod over the sea, Exod. 14. 16. Elijah used his mantle, 2 Kgs. 2. 8. Christ spoke the word, Mark 4. 39. They had invested power and authority to do what they did, but the Lord exhibited His supreme, inherent power and authority.


At one stage, Moses was set to give-in, Num. 11. 14. Elijah once claimed, ‘It is enough’, 1 Kgs. 19. 4. The Lord suffered greater opposition and greater pressure than either of these two men, but He declared, ‘not my will, but thine, be done’, Luke 22. 42, and, ultimately, ‘It is finished’, John 19. 30.


Both men left this Earth in unusual ways. Moses died on a mountain and God buried him, Deut. 34. 1-6. We don’t know where exactly. Elijah never saw death (like Enoch); he was translated to glory. Moses is typical of those who died, while Elijah of those who will not see death. This seems to be a picture of the two types of believer that will be at the rapture, 1 Thess. 4. 13-18. In light of the rapture, let us live and adjust our lives with the thought of the Lord’s imminent return before us.

The bright cloud

It would have to be a bright cloud to overshadow that glory! It has been said, ‘The cloud hid the men, and the voice hailed the man’. This was no ordinary cloud, no ordinary voice, and no ordinary words. Here we see: the intimate, tender relationship that existed eternally and was enjoyed between the Father and the Son; the intense pleasure and delight that existed between divine persons; finally, the words of absolute divine command. This was the voice from heaven. But the divine imperative calls for total and absolute obedience to His voice via His word, and to Him and Him alone.


At the beginning of our Lord’s public ministry, Luke 3. 22, the voice from heaven was heard regarding the Father’s infinite delight and pleasure in His Son - perhaps alluding to the Lord’s hidden life in Nazareth, or even a prophetic announcement of those years of public ministry that were ahead. Just over three years later, on the Mount of Transfiguration, the Father declared the same pleasure and delight in His Son, Matt. 17. 5 - a life of total, consecrated consistency! What about us? Is our spiritual character and condition consistent, despite changing circumstances in our lives?


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