Devotional Readings, Reflections on Israel

Matthew 17 – Reflections on the Transfiguration

On our trip to Israel we explored for four days the regions up north near the sea of Galilee and beyond it. One of the sites we visited was Mount Tabor.
Christian tradition since the fourth century has placed the site of the Transfiguration as the top of Mount Tabor, near Nazareth. There, St. Helen (approx. 250-330 AD) built the church of the Holy Transfiguration, solemnly dedicated on August 6.
We heard often that many of the current “traditional” Christian sites were selected by Helen, Constantine’s mother. I understand the logic used to connect these but not sure I agree.
In this case, the transfiguration, Jesus was up in the far north….
Mat 16:13  When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

This is the text that then has Peter’s conversation with Jesus.

Mat 16:14  And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

Mat 16:15  He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

Mat 16:16  And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Mat 16:17  And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

Mat 16:18  And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Mat 16:19  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Mat 16:20  Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.


Which is honored by another shrine site.


Tranquil Tabgha, on the north-western shore of the Sea of Galilee, is best known for Christ’s miraculous multiplication of loaves and fish to feed a multitude.

But it is also remembered for Jesus’ third appearance to his disciples after his Resurrection, when he tested and commissioned St Peter as leader of his Church.

Two churches commemorate these events, and pilgrims find the place a serene location for meditation, prayer and study.

Tabgha is at the foot of the Mount of Beatitudes, about 3km south-west of Capernaum. The name is an Arab mispronunciation of the Greek Heptapegon (meaning “seven springs”). Several warm sulphurous springs enter the lake here, attracting fish especially in winter. (seetheholyland)

They have a statue to Peter the rock, which is a Catholic tradition.
Anyway, IMHO, it seems perhaps a better fit to the text, that the transfiguration may have taken place,either at this Mount above Tabgha, or to Mt. Hermon, which is over 9,000, and up it the Caesarea Philippi region.

This is where they were immediately before today’s text.

Mat 17:1  And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,

Mat 17:2  And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.


As for the so called Mount of the Beatitudes site, it is quite beautiful, and high above the lake,

The text makes these markers, after the transfiguration…..


Mat 17:14  And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,


Mat 17:19  Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

Mat 17:20  And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

Mat 17:21  Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Mat 17:22  And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men:


Mat 17:24  And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?


Mat 17:25  He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?

Mat 17:26  Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.

Mat 17:27  Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.


All these seem to indicate he either had come back to the sea or had done do earlier. Where as Mount Tabor is not at all close to the Capernaum, or Sea of Galilee.

I am not sure why they would have gone passed this area, coming down from Caesarea Philippi, traveled all the way to Nazareth, then gone up Mount Tabor and then come back to abide in Galilee? v22. 

He had done this way back in ….
Mat 4:12  Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;

Mat 4:13  And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:

I could see this living there, as I mentioned it is beautiful, and an area his disciples the fishermen were well suited for.
Here is today’s text.

The Transfiguration

Mat 17:1  And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,

Mat 17:2  And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

Mat 17:3  And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

Mat 17:4  Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

Mat 17:5  While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

Mat 17:6  And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.

Mat 17:7  And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.

Mat 17:8  And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.

Mat 17:9  And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.

Mat 17:10  And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?

Mat 17:11  And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.

Mat 17:12  But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.

Mat 17:13  Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

Jesus Heals a Boy with a Demon

Mat 17:14  And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,

Mat 17:15  Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.

Mat 17:16  And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.

Mat 17:17  Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.

Mat 17:18  And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.

Mat 17:19  Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

Mat 17:20  And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

Mat 17:21  Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Jesus Again Foretells Death, Resurrection

Mat 17:22  And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men:

Mat 17:23  And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.

The Temple Tax

Mat 17:24  And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?

Mat 17:25  He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?

Mat 17:26  Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.

Mat 17:27  Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

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