Focus verse: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:5)
Yesterday’s passage ended with the puzzling statement that “some of you present won’t experience death before you see me coming in my kingdom” (Matthew 16:28).
What follows this is an event we call the transfiguration, implicitly fulfilling Jesus’s cryptic prediction. Peter, James, and John are there to see his supernatural transformation.
The three disciples ascend a mountain with Jesus. Suddenly his face shines—his countenance transfigures. This means his appearance changes; it’s glorified. Moses and Elijah appear. They talk with Jesus.
Peter wants to commemorate this unprecedented event—Jesus’s transfiguration and two dead patriarchs appearing before them. He offers to build them each a shrine or tabernacle in their honor. Before Jesus can respond, a bright cloud forms.
The voice of Father God comes from the cloud. “This is my Son,” he says. “I love him and am pleased with him. Listen to what he says.”
In one succinct declaration, God confirms Jesus as the Son of God, affirms Jesus’s ministry, and commands the disciples to listen to him.
Does hearing God’s audible voice about Jesus sound familiar?
Three years earlier, before Jesus begins his public ministry, he asks John the Baptizer to baptize him—even though the sinless Jesus has no sins to repent from. When Jesus comes out of the water, three astonishing things happen.
First, heaven opens, revealing a glimpse into the spiritual realm. What do the people see? What awe-inspiring sights confront them?
Next, the Spirit of God descends from heaven, looking like a dove. Imagine the time it takes for the form to travel the distance from heaven to earth. It isn’t instantaneous.
It gets their attention. The people have never seen anything like it. They’re astounded by this unique event. The dove lands on Jesus, showing his connection with heaven, his divine bond with the godhead.
A voice from heaven calls out. “This is my Son,” God says. “I love him and am pleased with him” (Matthew 3:13–17).
This is almost identical to what God says at the transfiguration. This time the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all present. We see the triune God at work.
Two times God speaks audibly about Jesus. The first time is to prepare for him to begin his earthly ministry.
The second time is in preparation for him to conclude it. He’ll do this by dying for our sins, rising from the dead, and returning to heaven.
Both times Father God confirms his Son and supports Jesus and his ministry. The voice of God affirms Jesus.
- How does God speak to us today?
- How well do we do at listening to the words of Jesus, as the Father instructed?
Prayer: Father God, may we always hear your voice and obey your words.
Discover more about celebrating Jesus and his passion to save us in Peter’s new book, The Passion of Jesus. It is part of the Holiday Celebration Bible Study Series.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.