“Just admit it; we know it was you!” “How long since your last confession?” “Do you solemnly swear that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” These are all examples of calls to confess the truth where the one confessing the truth is left on their own to formulate the words. But, when it comes to confessing the truth of the Christian faith, Christians are given the words. We don’t have to formulate them ourselves.
We see this in Jesus’ transfiguration. Not only does the event itself call us to believe and confess the truth about Jesus, but the Father himself gives us the words to confess about Jesus.
When it comes to confessing the truth of the Christian faith, Christians are given the words. We don’t have to formulate them ourselves.
The transfiguration calls us to believe and confess the truth of Jesus’ identity. Just before his transfiguration, Jesus asked his disciples, “who do you say that I am?” Peter answered on behalf of the 12, “The Christ of God” (Luke 9:20). On the mountain, Jesus’ bright, transfigured appearance illuminated the fullness of his identity. Peter, James, and John, whom Jesus had taken up the mountain, awoke to find him in glorious splendor. His divine glory, usually hidden, shone through.
Not only had his appearance changed, but he stood talking with Moses and Elijah, the great figures of Old Testament history. So great were they that God was involved at the end of their lives on earth. God buried Moses himself (Deut 34:6), and he took Elijah up into heaven without tasting death (1 Kgs 2:1, 11).
Together Moses and Elijah represent the entire Old Testament. Its first five books are called the Law of Moses because Moses is believed to have written them. Through them, God reveals himself as gracious and reveals his law: his commands and demands of us.
Elijah represents the other books of the Old Testament referred to as the Prophets, for that was who wrote them. Elijah was the prophet of prophets, second only to Moses. No one was more zealous for the law of God than he.
On that mountaintop, both the act of Jesus’ transfiguration as well as those he speaks to point to the truth of his identity: that Jesus is God.
Enveloped in a cloud, the presence of God descended on the mountain. From here, the Father confessed the true identity of Jesus. “This is my Son...” These words reflect the words the Father already spoke at Jesus’ baptism. “You are my beloved Son; with you, I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).
His work for us leads us out of sin and brings us into a new life in him.
Jesus’ transfiguration also calls us to confess the truth regarding Jesus’ work. Luke is the only Gospel writer to give us the details of the conversation between Jesus and these two Old Testament representatives. “They spoke about [Jesus’] departure, which He was going to fulfill at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31). The Greek word used here for departure is literally “exodus.” It draws parallels between Israel’s Old Testament exodus and our New Testament exodus in Christ. Israel was trapped in bondage to the Egyptians. God freed them and led them to the promised land. We are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. But Jesus’ exodus—his death and resurrection—frees us. His work for us leads us out of sin and brings us into a new life in him.
The Father’s confession also confirms the truth regarding his plan for Jesus. “This is my Son, whom I have chosen...” Chosen to do what? He was chosen to fulfill the Father’s plan of salvation for sinners. Luke draws this together by sandwiching the story of Jesus’ transfiguration between two of the times Jesus predicts his suffering, rejection, death, and resurrection (Luke 9:21-22; Luke 9:34-35).
Further still, Jesus’ transfiguration calls us to confess the truth of Jesus’ authority. Once again, the Father’s words point to this. Not only does the Father confess that Jesus is his Son, whom he chose, the Father tells us that Jesus alone is the one to whom we should listen. He is the final word over the Old Testament, over the Law and the Prophets, over Moses and Elijah.
The Father calls us to pay attention to Jesus’ words. Not only is he the authority on the Old Testament, but he is also the final word on our forgiveness and salvation. He didn’t come to speak a new word of law to follow but to proclaim the gospel. The Father tells us to listen to Jesus’ words, and Jesus says, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Our sins are forgiven. Our salvation is won.
It was Jesus, the Son of God, that the Father chose and sent to stop the reign of sin and death. In Christ alone, we see the law fulfilled. In Christ alone, we see prophecy fulfilled. In Christ alone, crucified on the cross, we see our sins forgiven. In Christ alone, risen from the dead, we see the death of our death.
The Father’s confession about Jesus is our confession about Jesus.
The Father’s confession about Jesus is our confession about Jesus. We confess the truth about who he is: he is God’s only Son and our Lord. We confess the truth about what he did in history: he was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. On the third day, he rose from the dead. And we confess that only Jesus could accomplish this for us. He alone was sent to die for sinners, for us. Our sins are forgiven. Eternal life and salvation are ours.