“For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.” (2 Peter 1:17–18, NASB95)
Peter probably could have cited a great number of proofs of the risen Christ and the veracity of the message that he and the other disciples had been teaching. But this particular example has a surpassing authority to it. In Matthew chapter 17 we read, “Six days later [after Peter had confessed Jesus as the Christ, but had tried to deny His impending death] Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone. As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.”” (Matthew 17:1–9, NASB95)
Peter and the rest had seen Jesus do many incredible things. And, just a few verses before this incident when Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”, Peter had responded to a direct question about who the disciples themselves though He was by saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16, NASB95) Jesus followed this by affirming Peter and telling him and the others that they only way he could have known this is that the Father had revealed it to him. “And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17, NASB95)
It was with this backdrop that Jesus led Peter, James and John up onto a high mountain by themselves where the most amazing thing happened. Jesus was transfigured before their eyes. The Greek word used here is a form “metamorphoo.” It is the word from when we get the word metamorphosis, or the process of change that so miraculously transforms a caterpillar into a butterfly or a tadpole into a frog. It is an incredible and dramatic change. We read that Jesus changed before their eyes, and the way that He changed was “His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.” He took on a heavenly form. They saw Him as they would one day see Him and their living and glorified Lord.
But seeing Jesus changed was not all that happened. Two others then appeared and spoke with Jesus with these three men standing right there as witnesses. “And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.” And while the three of them were there talking, it seems that Peter injected himself into the conversation offering to do something for them. “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But before he could finish his words, we read that another amazing affirmation came. We continue to read, “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”
Jesus was changed into a heavenly form before their eyes. Moses and Elijah appeared to speak with Him. And then, the Father spoke from heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” Peter had already testified that Jesus was the Son of the living God, and now the living God spoke clearly for Himself to say the exact same thing. There could be no mistaking what had happened. Peter was not having a dream in which he alone could come forward telling what he had seen. He was there with two others who could testify to the same thing or even correct him if he got it wrong. But, the story stood, and it is recorded for us also in the gospels of Mark (Mark 9:2-8) and Luke (Luke 9:28-36). Not one of these three writers was there, but each one of them had been told of it and recorded it for us just as it was affirmed by Peter in the words we have here.
Jesus who is the Son of God was approved by the Father before men, and the men were further instructed to “listen to Him!” Peter, as an apostle of Christ had been saying these things and he was going to continue to say them until he was unable to speak any longer. This was the message given to Him by Christ, and he attested faithfully to all that he had seen and heard. It is up to us to listen as well, and not allow the truth to be twisted by those not speaking from God who boast of their own fanciful tales.
Jesus told Peter, James and John to hold back on sharing what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. And sure enough, once Jesus had risen and ascended to the Father, the truth came forth and it has changed countless lives through salvation in God’s Son sent for us.