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Matthew 17:1-9

Of all the things that bring intrigue to this story—the countenance of Jesus transforming before their eyes, Moses and Elijah just hanging out, and the theophany of the cloud—I’m most captivated by the secret nature of the Transfiguration on the mountaintop. According to Matthew, Jesus gives these disciples strict instruction not to tell a soul of the divine encounter (Matthew 17:9b). The messianic secret is a more prominent theme in Mark’s gospel. Still, it makes its way here in Matthew as well.

I’m curious about why that may be. What could have been the consequence if they did scale their way down and began to say, “We just saw something incredible! The fulfillment of our hopes and dreams. Moses! Elijah! The days are near! We’re on the right team. Jesus is the guy! Let’s crown him now! We’re unstoppable!” Would people believe they witnessed such a moment of grandeur? What might the powers and principalities have done if they heard of Jesus transfiguring to reveal the glory of God?

They better listen to the instruction given to the one whom the voice from heaven commanded them to listen to do not tell a soul.

We are now on the other side of this story, confessing that God has acted in history to raise the Son of Man from the dead. The secret is out. We know. The disciples were free to tell of this mountaintop moment after they witnessed the resurrected Christ. The story has been canonized and treasured as a part of our Scriptures for centuries.

Still, what do we make of it? It is almost as wild to our modern sensibilities as the resurrection itself. An instant metamorphosis? Phenomenal. Beyond what we can imagine.

While the transfiguration story belongs to all the Synoptics, each has it in a unique place as the gospel writers retell the story. While they al