Forming Faith Blog

Listen to Jesus (Matthew 16-17)

In the transfiguration, something stands out: a voice from the heavens. God proclaims who Jesus is and what we should do about it. Listen to Jesus!

A man listening to a cup-telephone.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on
God’s Power

This reading in the Narrative Lectionary marks the second, and last, lesson in our unit on God’s Power (originally there were three lessons, but the season after Epiphany is one week shorter this year). Last week, Jesus taught us about the upside-down kingdom of heaven using parables. Previously in this Epiphany season, we learned from Jesus as he preached from a mountainside.

This week’s reading, Matthew 16:24–17:8, includes, among other things, a description of Jesus’ transfiguration, obviously appropriate for Transfiguration Sunday. Four years ago, I reflected on the “metamorphosis” itself (if you are interested in reading that). Today, I want to focus on the statement given by the voice (of God) in the cloud:

“This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!”

Matthew 17:5
This Is My Son

It is—without a doubt—significant that these are almost identical words as the voice from the heavens at Jesus’ baptism:

“This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

Matthew 3:17

This epiphany (revelation) marks the second (and only?) direct divine utterance in Matthew’s Gospel. This repetition is important. God is here, in a very dramatic fashion, revealing who Jesus is. Jesus is, first and foremost, God’s Son. This confirms the announcement by the angel of the Lord to Joseph that Mary’s pregnancy was from the Holy Spirit. Jesus is not only special, but he is also the revelation of God.

The Beloved

The second point God makes is that Jesus is beloved. While this should be inherent in the parent-child relationship that God just confirmed, it isn’t always in our broken world. And repetition is often a good thing. Parentage establishes the existence of a relationship. “Beloved” here qualifies that relationship. God loves Jesus completely.

With Him I Am Well Pleased

The first two points reveal to us Jesus’ identity, specifically his identity in relation to God. The third part is about God’s judgment of Jesus’ actions. What has Jesus been doing? Teaching about the kingdom of heaven, healing, and doing other miracles. God here affirms that Jesus has been doing God’s work.

Listen to Him

God’s pronouncement at Jesus’ baptism stops at the last point. As with us, Jesus’ baptism is—in part—about identity. The transfiguration goes one step further. God establishes who Jesus is: a trustworthy representative of God, and then goes on with a command: Listen to him!

Jesus says many things that we should listen to, but a good place to start is the next statement that Jesus makes:

“Get up and do not be afraid.”

Matthew 17:7

The experience of hearing the voice of God was so powerful that the three disciples fell down and were overcome by their fear. They had been awed and excited to see Jesus temporarily transformed, but this was too much. Then, they did what God and Jesus had just commanded: they listened to Jesus, got up, and moved through their fear.

Faith Formation Connection

There are so many ways to illustrate Jesus’ transfiguration, and I encourage you to do so. But it would also be helpful to faith formation participants of all ages to reflect on what this story (and others) tell us about who Jesus is. And you can ask them “What things does Jesus say that we should listen to?”

May Jesus be revealed to you in all his glory!


Gregory Rawn (Publisher)

Free Resource

During the main Narrative Lectionary year (this year: September 11 to May 28), we provide a free resource download from one of our products to help you in your faith formation ministry. This week, download a free activity “Stained Glass Crosses” from our Living the Word: Kids (3rd-6th, NL) (Year 1, 2022-2023 or Year 2, 2023-2024) curriculum. This activity can be used intergenerationally or with many age groups individually.

Order Faith Formation Resources

Lent is upon us! Do you have your Spring lessons yet (starting on Lent 1, 2/26/23)? You can order Spring lessons of our Narrative Lectionary and Revised Common Lectionary resources, or one of our Learning Together units! You can download the lessons as soon as your payment is processed.

Are you looking for resources for the 2023-2024 program year? You can now order resources for the Narrative Lectionary, Revised Common Lectionary, and even a new Classroom curriculum for PK-2nd and 3rd-6th (check our blog post for a special discount)!

At Spirit & Truth Publishing, we might just have exactly what you are looking for:

Stay updated by liking our Facebook page, subscribing to our e-newsletter, or following this blog!

Leave a Reply