Bible Commentaries
Matthew 17

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The Way Of The Cross

Matthew Seventeen

Jesus again showed that the way of salvation is the way of the cross. "Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry." ( Mat_17:22-23 )

Matthew seventeen provides us with at least four looks at Jesus. We see (1) Jesus in His glory -- transfigured. ( Mat_17:1-13 ), (2) Jesus in His power -- healing. ( Mat_17:14-21 ), (3) Jesus in His death and resurrection sacrificing. ( Mat_17:22-23 ), and (4) Jesus in His humility and might -- paying tax. ( Mat_17:24-27 ) Nothing helps our life more than to see Jesus from all these dimensions.

We observe that the glorious sight of the transfiguration of Christ overcame the apostles. ( Mat_17:1-13 ) Jesus presented the case of the afflicted child to God and he was healed. Jesus cast out a dumb and deaf spirit. ( Mat_17:14-21 ) He again foretold His sufferings, death and resurrection. He endured the cross in order to bring about our redemption. ( Mat_17:22-23 ) The Divine power and the earthly poverty of Christ were mentioned together. He did not even have money for Temple tax; Yet, He worked a miracle in order to have the tribute money. ( Mat_17:24-27 )

Verses 1-13

Jesus in His glory, transfigured Mat_17:1-13 : It was probably on Mount Hermon that the transfiguration took place. Jesus had gone up on this mountain to pray. Luke describes it this way, "Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening." ( Luk_9:28-29 )

Observe that Jesus took with Him Peter, James and John. Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus. He was "Transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light." ( Mat_17:2 ) Peter wanted to do something. He suggested that they would build three tabernacles, one for Jesus, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. ( Mat_17:4 ) Instead, God wanted the disciples to listen to Jesus. ( Mat_17:5 ) Even the glory of the transfiguration was not without thought of the suffering and death that awaited the Redeemer. ( Mat_17:12 )

The word "transfigure" means to transform the appearance of someone or something. In the case of Jesus the purpose of the transfiguration was designed to reveal His spiritual magnificence. Observe the components involved in the Transfiguration. (1) First, there were the glorious lights that came forth from Jesus. "His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light." (2) Second, There was appearance of Moses and Elias (Elijah). Luk_9:30 says, "And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias." (3) Third, there was the discussion that took place. Moses and Elias "appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem." ( Luk_9:31 ) The discussion centered in redemption by the sacrifice of Jesus. (4) Fourth, Moses represented The Law, and Elias represented The Prophets. Both now surrender to the authority of Jesus. It was to Him that they had pointed men. (5) The final element of the transfiguration was a voice from heaven. "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_17:5 ) The Messiah has come and now man is obligated to listen to and to obey Him.

Verses 14-21

Jesus in His power, healing Mat_17:14-21 : Following that heavenly transformation there is an earthly problem for Jesus to deal with. An epileptic, demon possessed boy had been brought to Jesus' disciples that had been left behind but they were unable to help. The man pleaded, "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_17:15 )

Jesus said "O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me." ( Mat_17:17 ) This account demonstrates both a Fathers' faith ( Mat_17:15 ) and the Saviors power. "And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour." ( Mat_17:18 ) Through faith in Jesus and obedience to His will Christians are able to make it through every difficulty in life.

Verses 22-23

Jesus in His death, resurrection, and sacrifice Mat_17:22-23 : Jesus tried for a second time to cause the disciples to understand that He must suffer and die. The important detail added here is that he would be "betrayed" or "delivered up." The disciples were exceeding sorry, as they understood that Jesus death was imminent. They did not fully understand the work of redemption until later when they could looked back on the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord.

The work of redemption demanded Jesus' death for our sins. Nothing less than killing the Son of God would satisfy that angry mob, "Pilate said to them, What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ? They all said to him, Let Him be crucified!" ( Mat_27:22 .) Without the blood of the Son of God there could be no redemption. Thank God that the light of Jesus’ resurrection diminished the gloom of Calvary.

Verses 24-27

Jesus in His humility, paying tax Mat_17:24-27 : It was costly to operate the temple. The ransom tax was used for that purpose. ( Exo_30:11-16 ) The tax authorities questioned Peter about whether Jesus was going to pay His tax. If Jesus had simply paid the tax he would have been looked upon as just another Jewish Rabbi or teacher. He was a great teacher but He wanted it to be understood that He was the Messiah. If He failed to pay the tax the Jews would have something unlawful of which to accuse Him.

Jesus claimed to be God's Son. They wondered whether He would pay tax to God, His Father. First Jesus again proved to Peter that he was the Messiah. He told Peter what he was thinking without Peter expressing anything. Jesus said to Peter that the tax must be paid so attention would not be focused on some small detail instead of the fact that He is the Messiah. The tax money was taken from the mouth of a fish. The Lord somehow put a coin in the mouth of the fish and then directed the fish to Peter's hook. The miracle of Matthew seventeen proves again that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah. ( Joh_20:30-31 )

The Bible gives us many looks at Jesus but non more vivid than the transfigured Savior healing a boy no one else could help, taking about His death and resurrection and being humble enough to pay the temple tax, but powerful enough to do so with a great miracle. Truly "this man is the Son of God". Do you love Him and are you keeping His commandments? Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." ( Joh_14:15 ) "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." ( Mar_16:16 )

Bibliographical Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on Matthew 17". "Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". 2014.