The Transfiguration & Golgotha Compared
November 4, 2014
The key to understanding the transfiguration lies in understanding its parallel: the crucifixion. There are few, more beautiful, contrasts found anywhere in God's word than the contrasts between the transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-9) and the events surrounding the crucifixion (Matt. 27:33-54).
On Mount Hermon, Jesus is revealed in glory (Matt. 17:2); Yet Jesus was crucified in shame on the Hill of Golgotha (Matt. 27:33), outside of Jerusalem.
At the transfiguration, Christ's clothes "became white as light" (Matt. 17:2). But on Golgotha the Roman soldiers divided his garments among each other by casting lots (Matt. 27:25).
On the mountain Jesus had beside him Moses and Elijah, symbolizing the law and the prophets, whom he speaks with (Matt. 17:3). But on the cross the two criminals besides him reviled him (Matt. 27:44). What a contrast between the language that was used in each instance!
A bright cloud overshadowed Jesus and those on the mountain with him (Matt. 17:5). Yet on the hill darkness - a plague in Egypt (Ex. 10:21-22) - covered the land (Matt. 27:45).
On the mountain God publicly declared, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him" (Matt. 17:5). On the cross Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46). Moreover, the centurion surprisingly says, with others, "Truly this was the Son of God" (Matt. 27:54).
Peter was thrilled with the events on the mountain: "Lord, it is good that we are here" (Matt. 17:4). But where was he when Jesus was crucified? He is hiding, knowing that he had already denied Jesus three times. "It is good that I am out of here"?
Again, what does this tell us? You cannot have glory without shame. The way to glory is on the path of suffering (Rom. 8:18). There can be no other way for those who belong to Christ.
Sometimes when Pastor Mark Jones thinks of the Mount of Transfiguration he is drawn to Golgotha; yet when he thinks of Golgotha his mind is inevitably drawn to the Mountain.