The Transfiguration, Crucifixion and Resurrection
“…he was transfigured before them…” (NRSV, Matthew 17:2)
Our Lord began his public ministry in the populous and nationalistic district of Galilee, and by the end of the first year it was clear that his ministry had failed. The people remained heedless of his call to repent and allow God to rule them in their daily lives. They just looked on him as a miracle-working prophet and thought of him in political and military terms as a potential resistance leader against the Roman occupying power.
Nor was he any more successful with the religious rulers. They resented both him and his ministry and went so far as to accuse him publicly of being in league with Satan.
But though Jesus had failed with the people and their rulers he still had his Apostles and on them he now concentrated. He withdrew with them to the sparsely populated district in the far north of the country where in peace and solitude they could reflect on the events of the past year, with the added objectivity and detachment which physical distance can bring.
So the time came to put them to the test: “…who do you say that I am?” asked Jesus and their answer would reveal conclusively whether there was among them, the spiritual perception which was to be found nowhere else in the country. It was the moment of crisis and the moment of truth, and Peter was inspired to rise to both. “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”, he declared – the long awaited King and Deliverer sent by God and uniquely related to him (NRSV, Matthew 16:15,16).