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The Meaning of the Transfiguration

Answers to your Scripture questions

What is the full meaning of the transfiguration? Is it related to John 17, when Jesus asks the Father to glorify him?
—Frank Rogers, via e-mail

Transfiguration is a change in appearance: a glorifying, spiritual change. This event in Jesus' life appears in three of the Gospels: Matthew 17.1-13, Mark 9.2-8 and Luke 9.28-36. Jesus was transformed, or glorified, by God, and “His face was shining like the sun, and his clothes became white as light” (Matthew 17.2, CEV). Other miraculous signs followed. Moses and Elijah appeared, and a bright cloud covered them. A voice spoke: “This is my own dear Son, and I am pleased with him. Listen to what he says!” (Matthew 17.5, CEV).

The importance of the transfiguration is that Jesus' true nature as the son of God was disclosed and a promise of his future glory was given. The transfiguration is confirmation of our faith. The event, important to the early church, has enriched the faith through the centuries.

The prayer you ask about in John 17.1-26 is the scene of Jesus' farewell meal with his disciples. It is not the typical deathbed prayer but shows his willingness to lay down his life and complete God's work. The message of this gospel is that God the Father is made known through Jesus, and the Son glorifies the Father by completing the work given him to do (John 17.4). Verse 5 indicates that the father will restore the glory hidden during Jesus' earthly life.

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