Step I: Initial Acquaintance
A. Comparison of translations
Verse 1: RSV: apart; NEB: where they were alone.
Verse 2: RSV:transfigured; Message: his app. Changed from inside out.
RSV: his face shone like the sun, garment white as the light; Message: Sunlight poured from his face, clothes were filled with light.
Verse 3: RSV: Behold, there appeared to them ...talking with him. Message: they realized...were there in deep conversation with him.
Verse 4: RSV: Peter said to Jesus, Lord it is well we are here; if you wish, I will make 3 booths here.NEB: shelters; Message: Peter broke in, "Master, this is a great moment. What would you think if I built 3 memorials here for you?"
Verse 5: still speaking when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them....beloved, well-pleased. Message: When he was going on like this, babbling, a light -radiant cloud enveloped them an sounding from deep in the cloud a voice:...my Son, marked by my love, focus of my delight.
Verse 6: RSV: filled with awe. NEB: in terror; Message: scared to death.
Verse 8 RSV: they saw no one but Jesus only; Message: looked around all they saw was Jesus, only Jesus.
Verse 9: Jesus swore them to secrecy. "Don't breathe a word of what you've seen. After the Son of man is raised, you are free to talk."
B. Textual criticism.
C. Rough translation
And after 6 days Jesus picked the Rock and Jacob and John his brother and led them away into high mountain. And he metamorphosed before them and his face brightened like the sun, his clothes became white as light. And they saw Moses and Elijah speaking with him. The Peter said to Jesus, Lord, good it is for us to be here. If you like, I can build 3 skenas, you one and Moses one and Elijah one. While he was speaking a bright cloud shadowed them, and they heard a voice saying from it, This is the son, mine, the one I love, in eudokasa. Listen to him! And hearing the voice the disciples fell on their faces in terror. And up to them came Jesus and touched them saying, Stand up and not be phobic. Raising their eyes they saw no one but Jesus solely. And as they came down from the mountain Jesus said to them, tell no one the sight until the anthropic son from death is risen.
Step II: Disposition
A. Genre: How the text says what it says.
This is another epiphany-type text in Matthew that has arresting elements of grandeur, drama, and the supernatural.
B. Personal interaction: Questions and observations.
The scene intends to isolate Jesus with this inner circle for a special revelation. Why? Why not all the disciples? Significance of the mountain. Any potential in wondering how the two eminent personages got there? ..nah. Similarities/ differences to Moses' "transfiguration". Why Elijah? Taken up, technically never died. Ghosts-reincarnation-resurrection--forget it. "God is not the God of the dead but of the living". Son of Man figure from Daniel.What does Peter want to build? Why? Disagree with Peterson: Peter isn't babbling, he's making a theological statement that needs some work. But, I agree that it could along be the lines of a memorial to mark this great event. But, NOT for the THREE of them, as if they were equals, as if Jesus were just another "founding father" whose statue belongs in the capitol rotunda. Immediately the voice-like-thunder says: Don't you get it, Peter? Jesus is IT! Even Moses and Elijah don't compare. They were my servants, but He's my SON, in a way that nobody else is! HE's the one you should listen to--(not them?).
Were they in awe or terrified, scared to death? They are not exactly worshiping like the magi, BUT, they DO hit the deck at the overpowering Father-voice. Epiphany strikes again. What's it say to Matthew's audience? Was there a struggle in the matthean community about the supremacy of Jesus? The place of the law? Elijah? The "overpowering" nature of the voice would seem intended to put a stop to any such debate in the community. "Get over it...we honor those guys, but we worship Jesus. They can't hold a candle to him". Why the secrecy? No doubt some asked, if that really happened on the mountain, and it was so great, how come we never heard about it till now? That's simple: Jesus told them not to say anything.
What's it say to us? He's it--the "secret" is out now--He's definitely the One we're supposed to listen to, as well.
C. Organization--where the elements of B are located
Questions regarding the disciples' special privilege: Author's intent.
Regarding OT connections: author's christology
Question of meaning for us. Function of text in original setting. Messianic secret.
Step III Composition
A. Immediate Context
Preceded by Peter's confession and protest. You're the Christ! Then: You'll never go the cross--not over my dead body. Clearly, Peter's christology needs some ramping up. Yes, the messiah can TOO be crucified and still be the messiah. Then Jesus speaks of the difficult path of following him, and gives a promise that he will, sooner rather than later, come back in power with reward for those who have been faithful to him. The pericope is followed by the question about Elijah (again, some in or around the matthean group must have been arguing: he can't be the One, because Elijah hasn't returned yet; at any rate, it's an odd discussion for the three disciples to be having considering what they just saw only moments ago.) Then comes a scene where the disciples have failed to show any spiritual power, frustrating Jesus with their obtuseness. He wonders how much longer he'll have to put up with them. Then he reiterates he has to die.
B. Organization of the whole
This is another step in the journey matthew would lead us on in recognizing the total supremacy of Jesus. The magi, now the inner 3 disciples, at the end, the Roman centurion and other guards at the cross, finally, the ends of the earth through the missionary endeavors of the church. (Some worshiped some doubted. "All authority is given to Me") All will see the true glory of the Lord, epiphany
C. Issues of authorship.
Step IV. Context
A. Primitive Christianity
Alluded to above
B. OT and Judaism
This passage is directly concerned with the relationship between the OT, the law, and the new religion. It also goes to the heart of what has come to be known as trinitarianism, which seemed to fly in the face of Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is One. In this passage, God himself sets a strict monotheism aside, and commands followers to listen to Jesus as his only Son. Jesus' teachings thus supercde the OT.
C. Hellenistic world
Step V. Distillation
A. Summary of salient features
This passage reveals the sonship of Jesus to a new group, and perhaps in a deeper way.
B. Smooth translation
It was only about a week later. Jesus motioned to Rocky and the two Zebedee brothers to follow him up a mountain. The others weren't invited--it was just the four of them up there. You won't believe what happened! All of a sudden Jesus had this blinding light coming from him--you had to shield your eyes from the glare! Then who should appear from out thin of air but Moses and Elijah--they were right there, talking to Jesus. Well, Rocky blurted out, "Lord I can't believe you picked US to be here to see this! I'm so moved, just wanna to DO something. I've got it: How 'bout 3 memorial stones--one for each of you. Yes, Lord, YOU deserve one, too. Don't deny it. 'From this day forward...let it never be forgotten'--that kind of thing. I'll call it, 'Spot We Finally Realized Jesus is Equal to Moses and Elijah' Let's tell the world! We knew you were special, but we had no idea. It's awesome, Lord. Totally."
As Rocky continued to gush, a bright cloud passed over, and they heard a cataclysmic Voice saying, "You're missing the point. This is my SON we're talking about. What do you mean, you'll put up three memorials? This isn't about them. It's about HIM. He's the one I love. Listen to HIM.
When they heard that earth-shaking, bone-rattling, ear-splitting Voice, they dove to the ground, faces in the dirt, prostrate in worship and panic. Jesus gently came up to them and touched them, saying, "The coast is clear. You can get up now. Put your fears away." Glancing around, they realized they were once again by themselves. Moses and Elijah were nowhere to be seen. Only Jesus was there: he was all that mattered.
As they came down from the mountain Jesus said, Don't tell the others about this until after I rise again from the dead. Then you can tell them.
C. Hermeneutical bridge
Just as issues of understanding Jesus were critical for the early Christians, This passage speaks to us today about our need to have a full understanding of who Jesus is in God's plan for the salvation of the world.
A. Description of Audience
A small coutry congregation of older adults and young families.
B. Intended goals
I hope to help us think together about what it means for us to proclaim Jesus as Lord of our lives.