Matthew Chapter 17
Memory verses for
this week: Isa 65:25 The wolf and the
lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the
bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor
destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.
last week’s lesson, Christ rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for
seeking after a sign. Later on, we studied how the church would be
built on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ, and that even hell
itself could not prevail against it. This week we study about Christ
I. The Transfiguration of Christ
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.
When we closed our study last week in Chapter 16, the last
Mat 16:28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here,
which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in
This had to do with what happened six days later as recorded
here in Chapter 17. Christ chose Peter, James, and John to witness
this glorious sight. These men truly got to witness a glimpse of the
kingdom in its future form and see Christ in His glorified body. It
was in a mountain it says in verse 1. We have a record of several
important things that happened on a mountain.
a. Moses received the law (10 commandments) on a
b. Moses died on the
mountain and was buried by God.
c. Christ prayed all
night on a mountain before organizing his church.
d. Abraham brought
Isaac up to offer him as a sacrifice on a mountain. We know
God provided a ram to
substitute for Isaac.
Jesus was transfigured before them. This means he literally
underwent a change of form.
Rev 1:13 And in the
midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed
with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden
Rev 1:14 His head
and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes
were as a flame of fire;
Rev 1:15 And his
feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his
voice as the sound of many waters.
Rev 1:16 And he had
in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp
twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his
Rev 1:17 And when I
saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon
me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
Rev 1:18 I am he
that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen;
and have the keys of hell and of death.
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.
There appeared two Old Testament characters talking with
Christ. Moses represented those who have died in the Lord and will be
resurrected at Christ’s coming. Elijah represents those who are alive
at the Lord’s coming and who will be changed in a moment. They also
typify the Law (Moses) and the prophets. (Elijah)
Peter was always one to speak quickly, and he didn’t know
what to say, so he makes a statement. The first part was very good.
“It is good for us to be here.” That was so true, and is true today
when we gather together to worship the Lord in church capacity.
However, his last part that he speaks was not pleasing to God. He
says “Let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for
Moses, and one for Elias.”
Matthew Henry made these notes about Peter.
Yet in this zeal he betrayed a great
deal of weakness and ignorance. What need had Moses and Elias of
tabernacles? They belonged to that blessed world, where they hunger
no more, nor doth the sun light upon them. Christ had lately
foretold his sufferings, and bidden his disciples expect the like;
Peter forgets this, or, to prevent it, will needs be building
tabernacles in the mount of glory, out of the way of trouble. Still he
harps upon, Master, spare thyself, though he had been so lately
checked for it. Note, There is a proneness in good men to expect the
crown without the cross. Peter was for laying hold of this as the
prize, though he had not yet fought his fight, nor finished his
course, as those other disciples, ch. 20:21. We are out in our aim, if
we look for a heaven here upon earth. It is not for strangers and
pilgrims (such as we are in our best circumstances in this world), to
talk of building, or to expect a continuing city.
Yet it is some excuse
for the incongruity of Peter’s proposal, not only that he knew not
what he said (Lu. 9:33), but also that he submitted the proposal to
the wisdom of Christ; If thou wilt, let us make tabernacles. Note,
Whatever tabernacles we propose to make to ourselves in this world, we
must always remember to ask Christ’s leave .[i]
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
God speaks out of the cloud and declares that Jesus is the
one whom He has chosen to be heard. Two things are said about
Jesus.. “He is my beloved Son” and “In whom I am well pleased.” The
disciples fall on their faces when they heard this, and were very
fearful. But Jesus tells them to “Arise, and be not afraid.” How
many times does the Lord help and encourage us when we are down and
think we can’t go on.
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.
It says when they looked up, that they saw on one except
Jesus Christ. That is what you and I need to see. Jesus and Jesus
alone. So many times, we let others or self get in the way to the
point that we can’t see our Savior. Our desire should be to grow
more like Jesus every day. Christ tells them when they come down
from the mountain to not tell vision to any man until He had risen
from the grave.
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.
The appearance of Elijah caused the disciples to ask
questions concerning the coming of Elijah before the messiah. Christ
declares that John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah, and that
he would certainly come before that great and dreadful day of the
Mal 4:5 Behold, I
will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and
dreadful day of the LORD:
Mal 4:6 And he shall
turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the
children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a
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.
John the Baptist came in the power and spirit of Elijah and
the Jews knew him not. The prophecy we just read in Malachi 4:5 had a
partial fulfillment in the coming of John. By the treatment of
Christ’s forerunner, Jesus foreknew what he would endure as the
II. The Powerless
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 a lunatic, and
sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the
Mat 17:16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not
This man comes and kneels before Christ and asks for mercy at
the feet of Jesus. He is concerned about his son, who was like a
crazy man falling into the fire and running into the water. The man
says he has brought the boy to the disciples and they could not cure
him. After coming to them and having no success, he comes to the
right one. When we have a need, we need to come to Jesus. He and He
alone can hear our petitions and heal us if we are sick, or deliver us
if we are in trouble.
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.
We see the problem was that the boy had been possessed of a
devil. Jesus rebukes the devil and it flees from him. The boy is
totally healed. That is one thing about those who came to Jesus.
He healed them wholly and totally.
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
The disciples ask why they could not cast out the demon.
Jesus tells them bluntly that it was a lack of faith. He gives an
illustration that if we have as much faith as a mustard seed (the
tiniest of seeds), and we tell a mountain to move, it will move. But
to have this kind of faith takes a lot of prayer and fasting. I know
I fall short in my prayer life. We need to be men and women who
pattern our lives after those great men of the bible like Daniel who
would pray multiple times each day. And when they prayed, they were
serious in those prayers with the Lord.
III. Jesus Foretells
His Death and 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.
Jesus did not hide what was about to happen to him from the
disciples. For some reason, they seemed to not comprehend it, or just
did not want to believe it. They just seemed to not grasp the depths
of his doctrine. It says that the news of his death and resurrection
caused them to be exceeding sorry. But later, after it really
happened, it caused them to rejoice. There was a song written a few
years ago by Don Francisco named “He’s Alive.” It tells the story
about what happened when Jesus died on the cross and how the disciples
thought things were totally lost. But when they came to that grave
early on Sunday morning, they realized, that he had risen. With
tremendous power in the song, he comes into that part “HE’S ALIVE…
HE’S ALIVE.” And because he lives, we all can have that hope of being
Some of the greatest words of comfort we have in the word of
God are recorded in John Chapter 14.
John 14:1 Let not
your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
John 14:2 In my
Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told
you. I go to prepare a place for you.
John 14:3 And if I
go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you
unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
John 14:4 And
whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
John 14:5 Thomas
saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we
know the way?
John 14:6 Jesus
saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh
unto the Father, but by me.
John 14:7 If ye had
known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye
know him, and have seen him.
IV. The Miracle of the Tribute Money
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
The tribute money was a temple tax paid voluntarily by all 20
years of age and older to maintain the temple. Certainly, Jesus was
under no obligation to pay this tax, but he does so to not offend the
Jews who received it.
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
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.
Jesus claimed to be the divine Son of God. As the Son of
God, he declares that he has no need to pay tribute to support worship
of God. However the people of Capernaum did not know He was the Son
of God, so in order to not offend them, Jesus pays the tax. I think
there is a real lesson here for us. In order that we might all get
along, sometimes we may have to do things that are really going out of
our way to keep all people happy. But in doing that, we honor and
glorify the Lord. We know that Paul knew that to eat meat offered to
idols was not in itself sin. But it might cause his brother to sin,
and he would not eat if that would be the case.
1 Cor 8:7 Howbeit
there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of
the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and
their conscience being weak is defiled.
1 Cor 8:8 But meat
commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better;
neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.
1 Cor 8:9 But take
heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock
to them that are weak.
1 Cor 8:10 For if
any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's
temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to
eat those things which are offered to idols;
1 Cor 8:11 And
through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ
1 Cor 8:12 But when
ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye
sin against Christ.
1 Cor 8:13
Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh
while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
1 Cor 9:18 What is
my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the
gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the
1 Cor 9:19 For
though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto
all, that I might gain the more.
1 Cor 9:20 And unto
the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to
them that are under the law, as under
the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
1 Cor 9:21 To them
that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God,
but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without
1 Cor 9:22 To the
weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all
things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
1 Cor 9:23 And this
I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
Paul did everything in his power to reach the lost. He came
to the Jews as a Jew… to those under the law he came under the law.
Whatever it took, he tried his best to reach others for Jesus Christ
by preaching the Gospel to them after he found that common ground that
others could love and trust him.
Note the command Jesus gave to Peter. I’m sure as an old
fisherman, Simon Peter found the Lord’s method of obtaining the money
appealing. No one but Jesus cold tell you to go and open up a fish’s
mouth and find money. Notice the words… take the money and “Give unto
them for thee and me.” Why did he not just say us? Peter was
paying the tax on a different ground. He was responsible to pay.
Jesus was the only Begotten Son of God. Peter needed a ransom for his
J. Vernon McGee has this to say about the money in the fish’s
His method of getting the tax money
was certainly novel, to say the least. Now our Lord demonstrates that
He has recovered all that Adam lost. The creatures were obedient to
Him. The fish as well as Peter followed His command. I believe that
God had given to Adam the same dominion over all creation, but he lost
it at the Fall. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our
likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and
over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth,
and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (Gen.
In the Transfiguration we see man
restored to his original purpose. In the episode of the tribute
money we see man restored to his original performance.
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4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth
more and more unto the perfect day.
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Practice Random Acts of Kindness. Each act spreads, and many will be
Matthew, Matthew Henry’s
Commentary on the Bible,
(Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.
Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible
commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System,
(Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.