|Church of the Transfiguration - Mt. Tabor|
This is actually the ending of an extensive definition of the covenant God made with Israel (chapters 19-24 inclusive). Moses was bid come up the sacred mountain to receive the stones on which the terms of the covenant (the Ten Commandments) were written. There Moses met God in a cloud and stayed forty days and nights. Forty is a sacred number which appears many other times in the Old and New Testaments.
Psalm 2. Rightly or wrongly, the early Church interpreted this psalm as referring to Jesus as the Messiah. In its original form it was probably a poem encouraging confidence in an unnamed king of Israel at the time of his accession or an anniversary of that event. Verse 7 was quoted in the narrative of Jesus' baptism in Mark, then copied by Matthew and Luke.
2 Peter 1:16-21. This is the one reference to the Transfiguration outside of the first three Gospels. It interpreted that mysterious event as a guarantee of Christ's Second Coming in glory. This element of faith was in decline early in the 2nd century AD when this letter was composed.
Matthew 17:1-9. Does any other story of Jesus' ministry greater contain more mystery than this? Was it a vision revealing to the disciples Jesus' true nature and his future glory after death? Or was this an interpretation of what the ministry of Jesus meant to the church founded by the apostles?
The cloud and the voice symbolized not only the close presence of God, but God's designation of Jesus as Messiah first stated in his baptism. The appearance of Moses and Elijah, as well as Peter's desire to build three tabernacles, indicated that this renewed revelation at this crucial moment in Jesus' ministry still maintained the vital connection with the law and the prophets of Israel. It also reflected the early apostolic church's unbreakable continuity with the spiritual tradition of Israel.