The Transfiguration of Jesus is one of the most important events that took place during Jesus’ time, and the Mount of Transfiguration remains a memorable place to all Christians. All over the world, Christians take time to commemorate this occasion. So, where was the Transfiguration of Jesus?
The event, now commemorated as the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ, took place at Mount Tabor. Before the Transfiguration, Jesus had taken three of his disciples, John, Peter, and James, to the Mountain. There, Elijah and Moses appeared, and it is here that the image of Christ became transfigured, with clothes and face dazzling brightly – Matthew 17:1-13, Mark 9:2-13, and Luke 9:28-36.
Subsequently, Christians celebrate this event as an important festival. But what was the significance of the Transfiguration, and why did it occur at Mount Tabor?
What was the significance of Mount Tabor in the Bible?
As mentioned above, Jesus’ Transfiguration took place at Mount Tabor. Here, Jesus radiated a bright light while conversing with Elijah and Moses. Granted that these were significant events in the life of Christ and His ministry, Christians hold celebrations to commemorate the event, and the Mountain is quite important in these celebrations.
Accounts of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ on Mount Tabor are made in the Gospel of Matthew 17:1-19. This event is believed to have transpired in the 4th century or maybe earlier, although it was recognized as the Mountain where Jesus’ Transfiguration took place. During this time, Jesus hiked to the Mountain to pray. At the top, the three disciples with Jesus – John, James, and Peter fell asleep. However, when they awoke, they were astonished by the image they saw – Jesus appeared very radiant, shining brightly like the sun as His clothes dazzled, and he spoke to the prophets Elijah and Moses. That said, it’s worth noting that the exact high Mountain where Jesus transfigured isn’t specified in the accounts of the New Testament, but scholars mostly agree on Mount Tabor as the site of the Transfiguration.
Mount Tabor, a dome-shaped mountain located 6 miles East of Nazareth at the Jezreel Valley, rising about 2000ft above sea level, is highly regarded in and out of Jerusalem. The Mountain was quite crucial to the history of Israel since it not only represents the site of Jesus’ Transfiguration but also marks the geographical boundary between the three tribes of Zebulun as suggested in Joshua 19:12, Naphtali as suggested in Joshua 19:34. Issachar implied in Joshua 19:22. Also, Mount Tabor is nearby the international trade highway. It was a crucial navigational tool for traders plying from Israel’s Megiddo and Syria’s Damascus.
The scripture in Psalm 89:12 implies a close relationship between Mount Tabor and Mount Hermon. While the peaks weren’t close in height – Mount Hermon is much taller than Mount Tabor, Jeremiah suggested a link between the prominence of these mountains, with Mount Carmel in Jeremiah 46:18.
The Bible also mentions Mount Tabor in the Books of Judges 4:1-24 and 8:18-21 and the book of Hosea 5:1. These scriptures suggest that the army that Barak gathered after Deborah summoned him belonged to the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali and the army gathered at Mount Tabor. From here, these Israelite armies matched down, defeating Sisera, who commanded the Hazor Canaanite Army. And that later, Gideon avenged his brothers’ deaths at Mount Tabor, where he executed the two Midianite kings, Zalmunna and Zebah.
Hosea 5:1 suggests that Mount Tabor is the Mountain that has been identified in the Old Testament as the high place where the rulers of Israel would set up altars and worship the false gods.
Finally, Mount Tabor’s significance was recognized by Emperor Constantine the Great’s mother, Queen Helena. She was also convinced that the Mountain was the site of Jesus’ transformation, so she built the first Mount Tabor Mountain at the mountain top in 326 AD. Unfortunately, the church and monasteries set up later were destroyed by the Sultan of Syria and Egypt, Saladin, in the 12th century.
Today, a Greek Orthodox monastery exists from the 19th century and a Roman Catholic Church from early in the 20th century at Mount Tabor.
Where in the Bible does it talk about Jesus’ Transfiguration?
The feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus is one of the greatest feasts for the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, and they are celebrated to date because they are believed to have taken place, as specified in the Gospels, following accounts by the three disciples who witnessed the Transfiguration – James, John, and Peter. The Transfiguration is believed to have shown the divine and true face of Jesus Christ.
The accounts of Jesus’ Transfiguration are inferred in Matthew 17:1-13, with Matthew 17:2 giving the details of how Jesus changed into a dazzling divine being on the Mountain where he visited alongside his disciples, the brothers James and John and Peter.
The Gospels of Luke and Mark also talk about the transformation of Jesus Christ as suggested in Luke 9:19 and Mark 9:3. Other scriptures imply Jesus’ Transfiguration in Acts 15:14-18, 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, Romans 1:14-15, Revelation 20:4-6, and Revelation 19:15.
What was the meaning and significance of Jesus’ Transfiguration?
Jesus’ Transfiguration is more than another event that Christians celebrate. In many ways, this event that happened in the presence of three of His disciples was meant to demonstrate His actual or true, divine nature.
It’s implied in Luke 9:22 that the Transfiguration occurred a week after Jesus informed His disciples of the looming suffering that he would endure, his death, and subsequent resurrection. And so, the Transfiguration that made Jesus take on a glorified form in dazzling white clothes, and with Elijah and Moses talking to Jesus all about his death that was about to take place, these actions were meant to ensure that the world was aware of Jesus’ divine nature – mainly because many didn’t believe that He was the Messiah.
Jesus’ disciples became very fearful at the sight of Jesus. Moses and Elijah spoke with Jesus, discussing his death and offering to put up three shelters for the disciples. The shelters are believed to be the ones that were used to mark the Feast of the Tabernacles.
The primary significance of these events was that Christ’s Transfiguration had to happen in front of his disciples for His Heavenly Glory – so to speak – to be known by His Inner Circle. The Transfiguration allowed the disciples to gain a deeper understanding of who Christ was.
The Transfiguration also made it possible for His disciples to see Him and his true nature and Glory. Until then, the disciples only knew Jesus as human, and the Transfiguration meant they finally realized His Deity. Though shocking, this event reassured the disciples that they needed to believe everything else that would happen, including his looming death.
The presence of Elijah and Moses at the Transfiguration is also significant because they symbolize the prophets and God’s laws. They affirmed the Old Testament teachings while also showing that what they prophesized had come to pass, and it was time for the Old Testament prophets to give Jesus the way. And in his glorified form, the disciples witnessed Jesus’ glorification and His enthronement as the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings.
Finally, the Transfiguration of Jesus had to happen in front of His disciples because they needed to be the actual real-life witnesses of what had happened. And for them to recount to the rest of the disciples, believers, and the world.
Why is Jesus’ Transfiguration important?
Jesus’ Transfiguration is crucial because it is a powerful portrayal of Jesus’ divine nature. It is also the manifestation of Christ’s Glory and His greatness, proving that he was more than a mere man; he was a God. This revelation that Christ was God in human form is suggested in Philippians 2:5-11.
Additionally, this event was essential to Jesus’ story and what was to come next. In many ways, he was preparing himself and his believers for his death, so he told the three disciples that he’d die during the Transfiguration – Matthew 16:21.
Why did Jesus choose James, Peter, and John to witness his Transfiguration?
While the Bible doesn’t mention that the three disciples, James, John, and Peter, were in Jesus’ close or inner circle, Jesus took these three men because he may have trusted them. Luke 5:4-11 suggests that Peter, John, and James were Jesus’ earliest disciples and had been with Jesus Christ for the longest time.
The three were with Jesus in many special events and places where he performed miracles. Other than being the only eyewitnesses to His Transfiguration, they were also present when Jesus raised from death Jairus’ daughter – Luke 8:49-56 and also, they were present when Jesus went to pray at the Garden of Gethsemane as implied in Matthew 26:36-38.
Therefore, their presence during some of Jesus’ most significant moments – darkest and most glorious- meant they were the closest of Jesus’ friends. It is also possible that He kept the three disciples close in preparation for the leadership roles they were to take in growing the church.
What happened to Jesus during his Transfiguration?
During the Transfiguration at Mount Tabor, the following happened. First, Jesus appeared transfigured, with his face dazzling and his clothes shining in a bright, almost blinding brilliance – “His clothes turned white as light.”
Secondly, Elijah and Moses appeared and talked to Jesus.
Third, Peter offered to build three shelters in which James, John, and Peter would shelter since they were terrified.
Thirdly, while Jesus spoke with Moses and Elijah, they were enveloped in a bright cloud; then a voice bellowed from the cloud informing them that Jesus was His (God’s Son) son, a son He Loves and is Proud of, and they should listen to Him.
Why did Moses and Elijah appear during Jesus’ Transfiguration?
Though this gathering and its events were unusual, the presence of Moses and Elijah was a little off. However, there is no doubt that their presence was necessary.
Moses was present symbolically because the Transfiguration took place after Jesus had fed thousands by multiplying two fishes and 5 loaves – this is a reminder of Moses’ actions in the desert with the Israelites when he fed multitudes with Manna. And in Exodus 34:29-35, it’s implied that when Moses descended Mount Sinai carrying the 10 Commandments, his face was bright and radiant, just like Jesus’ when he transfigured.
Additionally, when Jesus spoke with Elijah and Moses, Luke 9:28-36 implies that they were talking about Jesus’ departure – Exodus, in which Moses led the Israelites from Egypt.
On the other hand, there is Elijah’s appearance, and it makes sense that he appeared during the Transfiguration of Christ because of the suggestion that Elijah ‘departed’ as well. Elijah is believed to have ascended into heaven by a chariot of fire, which is reminiscent of Christ’s ascension after the resurrection.
Together, Elijah and Moses were present at the Transfiguration of Christ because they represented the prophets and the laws that were to be fulfilled by Jesus Christ, whom they’d prophesized as the Messiah.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.