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made conformable to Christ, even in his sufferings and death, if it may
be a means of transforming us into the resemblance of his glories ?
“ This is my beloved Son, hear ye him.” Here we have the great gospel-mystery revealed : “ This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." This was the very same that was spoken from heaven at his baptism :- Matt. iii. 7. - and it was the best news that ever came from heaven to earth since man sinned. It is to the same purport with that great doctrine, 2 Cor. v. 19. “ God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.” Moses and Elias were great men, and favourites of heaven, yet they were but servants, and servants that God was not always well pleased in: for Moses spake unadvisedly, and Elias was a man subject to passions : but Christ is a Son, and in him God was always well pleased. Moses and Elias were sometimes instruments of reconciliation between God and Israel. Moses was a great intercessor, and Elias a great reformer: but in Christ, God is reconciling the world : his intercession is more prevalent than that of Moses, and his reformation more effectual than that of Elias.
The great gospel duty required, and it is the condition of our benefit by Christ : “ Hear ye him.” God is well pleased with none in Christ, but those who hear him. We must hear him, as the great Prophet and Teacher ; hear him and be ruled by him, as the great Prince and Lawgiver. God does here, as it were, turn us over to Christ for all the revelations of his mind : and it refers to that prediction concerning the “ Prophet God would raise up like unto Moses.' -Deut. xviii. 18.
Moses and Elias were now with him, the law and the prophets : hitherto it was said, “ Hear them.” - Luke xvi. 29. The disciples were ready to equal them with Christ, when they must have tabernacles for them as well as for him.
“ No,” saith God, “ hear Him," and that is enough : Him, and not Moses and Elias: they were willing to see all their interest transferred to Christ, that “ in all things he might have the pre-eminence." Be not troubled that Moses and Elias make so short a stay with you; hear Christ, and you will not want them.
Christ gave the disciples charge to keep the vision very private for the present. « Tell it no man till the Son of Man is risen.” If they had proclaimed it, the credibility of it would have been shocked by his sufferings. Christ observed a method in the manifestation of himself : would have his works put together, mutually to explain and illustrate each other, that they might appear in their full strength and convincing evidence. Every thing is beautiful in its season. Christ's resurrection was properly the beginning of the gospel state and kingdom, to which all before was but preparatory and by way of preface. REV. MATTHEW HENRY.
Our Lord took those three whom he honoured with peculiar regard, and brought them up into a high mountain apart,” and manifested to them his glory, the glory which he had with his Father, before the world was. A simple account of what could not be adequately described. Nothing on earth, nothing seen by mortal eyes, can equal the brightness.
How wonderful and how inspiring is the thought, that this brightness, this glory, is prepared for those who here belong to Christ Jesus I Paul assures us, that He “shall raise our vile body, that it may be made like unto his glorious body." Christ was “ made flesh,” as ourselves : he bore the body of earth. We bear the image of the earthy: but on the mount where this wonderful transfiguration took place, Christ put on the appearance of "incorruption," of glory," of "power;" the glory and power of the celestial body. So likewise will his true and faithful disciples. We
may unite with the apostle in these words, “ It is good for us to be here :" to be where he was, and where he wished to remain, in the company of Christ Jesus, and of Elias, and of Moses. We are with Moses and Elias while we walk, as they walked, in all the ordinances and commandments of the law blameless. We are with Christ Jesus while we abide in his faith. He is one with us, and we with him. He has said, “ If any man love me, he will keep my words : and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
The interpreters of the law were right in expecting, that one typified under the title of Elijah, (see Mal. iii. 1.; iv. 5.) “ a burning and shining light in a dark age and country,” should precede the coming of the great Deliverer. But they had not perceived that this prophecy was already accomplished the ministry of John the Baptist. He had “ restored all things;" that is, he had established them in the state in which they must needs be when Christ appeared; he had called men to repentance, the first step towards restoration, and awakened the hearts of those who had ears to hear.
But the error of the apostles reminds us how much of the meaning of Scripture, how much of its spiritual force, how much of its personal application, may be unperceived, unless, through the grace of its Divine Author, it is brought home to our minds. May he so open our eyes,” that we may see the wondrous things of his law ! BISHOP J. B. SUMNER.
The apostle Peter, adverting to this memorable occurrence, says, “ We have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the
power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his Majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.”. 2 Pet. i. 16-18. This event is to be considered : 1. As a solemn confirmation of the prophetic office of Christ. 2. As designed to support the faith of the disciples, which was to be deeply tried by his approaching humiliations ; and to afford consolation to the human nature of our Lord himself, by giving him a foretaste of “ the joy set before him.”
3. As an emblem of humanity glorified at the resurrection. 4. As declaring Christ to be superior to Moses and Elias, the giver and restorer of the law. 5. As an evidence to the disciples of the existence of a separate state, in which good men consciously enjoy the felicity of heaven. 6. As a proof that the bodies of good men shall be so refined and changed, as, like Elias, to live in a state of immortality, and in the presence of God. 7. As exhibiting the sympathy which exists between the church in heaven and the church on earth, and the instruction which the former receives from the events which take place in the latter : Moses and Elias conversed with our Lord on his approaching death, doubtless to receive, not to convey information. 8. As maintaining the grand distinction, the infinite difference, between Christ and all other prophets : he is “ The Son.” “ This is my beloved Son, hear him.” It has been observed, with much truth, that the condition in which Jesus Christ appeared among men, humble, weak, poor, and despised, was a true and continual transfiguration ; whereas, the transfiguration itself, in which he showed himself in the real splendour of his glory, was his true and natural condition.
Rev. RICHARD Watson.
Jesus had (in the conversation mentioned in the preceding chapter) told his disciples, that the Son of Man should come in the glory of his Father, with his holy angels, to judge the world. The scene on the mount therefore, which so soon followed that conversation, was probably meant to convey to them some idea and some evidence of his coming in glory at the great day of judgment, of which his transfiguration was, perhaps, as just a picture and exemplification as human sight could bear.
It is, indeed, described in nearly the same terms that St. John, in the Revelation, applies to the Son of man in his state of glory in heaven. was clothed (says he) with a garment down to the foot. His head and his hair were white like wool, white as snow; and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.” It is remarkable that St. Luke calls his appearance, after being transfigured, his glory. St. John, who was likewise present at this appearance, gives it the same name. 66 We beheld his glory, as of the only begotten of the Father.” And St. Peter, who was another witness to this transaction on the mount, refers to it by a similar expression. “ For he received (says that Apostle) from God the Father, honour and glory, when there came to him such a voice from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” There can hardly therefore remain any doubt, but that the glory which Christ received from the Father, on the mountain, was meant to be a representation of his coming in the glory of his Father, with his holy angels, at the end of the world, which is one of the topics touched upon in the preceding chapter.
Another thing there mentioned was, our Saviour's resurrection. Of this, indeed, there is no direct symbol in the transfiguration ; but it is evidently implied in that transaction ; because Jesus is there represented in his glorified, celestial state, which being in the natural order of time subsequent to the resurrection, that event must naturally be supposed to have previously taken place.
The glory of Christ therefore on the mountain, was a symbol of his exaltation to be the judge of the earth; and the glory of Moses and Elias was an emblem of the rewards given to the righteous in heaven.
The other great purpose of the action on the mount was, I apprehend, to signify, in a figurative manner, the cessation of the Jewish, and the commencement of the Christian dispensation. BISHOP PORTEUS.
Jesus chose Peter, James, and John, that they might be witnesses of his Transfiguration : two or three witnesses being required by the Scripture to substantiate any fact. That fulness of the Godhead, which dwelt bodily in Christ, now shone forth through the human nature, and manifested to his disciples, not only the Divinity which Peter had before confessed, Matt. xvi. 16, but also the glorious resurrection body, in which they should exist in the presence of God to eternity.
Elijah came from heaven in the same body which he had upon earth, for he was translated, and did not see death 2 Kings ii. 11. And the body of Moses was probably raised again, as a pledge of the resurrection. Both their bodies exhibit the same appearance, to show that the bodies of glorified saints are the same, whether the person had been translated, or had died. It was a prevalent tradition among the Jews, that both Moses and Elijah should appear in the times of the Messiah.
We conceive that the Law in the person of Moses, the great Jewish legislator, and the Prophets in the person of Elijah, the chief of the prophets, came now to do homage to Jesus Christ, and to render up their authority into his hands : as he was the End of the Law, and the grand subject of the predictions of the prophets. This appears more particularly from what Luke says, (chap. ix. 31,) that Moses and Elijah conversed with our Lord on his death, which he was about to accomplish, because in it, all the rites, ceremonies, and sacrifices of the Law, as well as the predictions of the prophets, were fulfilled.
Tell the vision to no man. Observe, that as this Transfiguration was intended to show forth the final abolition of the whole Ceremonial Law, it was necessary that a matter which could not fail to irritate the Jewish rulers and people should be kept secret, till Jesus had accomplished vision and prophecy by his death and resurrection.
The whole of this emblematic transaction appears to me to be intended to prove, 1st. The reality of the world of spirits, and the immortality of the soul. 2dly. The resurrection of the body, and the doctrine of future rewards and punishments.—See chap. xvi. 27. 3dly. The abolition of the Mosaic institutions, and the fulfilment of the predictions of the prophets relative to the person, nature, sufferings, death, and resurrection of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 4thly. The establishment of the mild, light-bringing, and life-giving Gospel of the Son of God. And 5thly. That as the Old Jewish Covenant and Mediatorship had ended, Jesus was now to be considered as the sole Teacher, the only availing offering for sin, and the grand Mediator between God and man. DR. A. CLARKE.