|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:28-36 Christ's transfiguration was a specimen of that glory in which he will come to judge the world; and was an encouragement to his disciples to suffer for him. Prayer is a transfiguring, transforming duty, which makes the face to shine. Our Lord Jesus, even in his transfiguration, was willing to speak concerning his death and sufferings. In our greatest glories on earth, let us remember that in this world we have no continuing city. What need we have to pray to God for quickening grace, to make us lively! Yet that the disciples might be witnesses of this sign from heaven, after awhile they became awake, so that they were able to give a full account of what passed. But those know not what they say, that talk of making tabernacles on earth for glorified saints in heaven.
Verse 29. - And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, etc. The marvellous change evidently passed over Jesus while he was in prayer, probably because of his intense prayer. Real, close communion with God ever imparts to the countenance of the one who has thus entered into communion with the High and Holy One, a new and strange beauty. Very many have noticed at times this peculiar and lovely change pass over the faces of God's true saints as they prayed - faces perhaps old and withered, grey with years and wrinkled with care. A yet higher degree of transfiguration through communion with God is recorded in the case of Moses, whose face, after he had been with his God-Friend on the mount, shone with so bright a glory that mortal eye could not bear to gaze on it until the radiance began to fade away. A similar change is recorded to have taken place in the case of Stephen when he pleaded his Divine Master's cause in the Sanhedrin hall at Jerusalem with such rapt eloquence that to the by-standers his face then, we read, "was as the face of an angel." Stephen told his audience later on, in the course of that earnest and impassioned pleading, that to him the very heavens were opened, and that his eyes were positively gazing on the beatific vision. Yet a step higher still was this transfiguration of our Lord. St. Luke tells us simply that, "as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered." St. Matthew tells us how it was altered when he writes that "his countenance shone as the sun." And his raiment was white and glistering; literally, lightening forth, as if from some inward source of glorious light. The earthly robes were so beautified by contact with this Divine light that human language is exhausted by the evangelists to find terms and metaphors to picture them. St. Matthew compares these garments of the Blessed One to light; St. Mark, to the snow; St. Luke, to the flashing lightning.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered,.... It became exceeding bright and glorious, it shone like the sun, Matthew 17:2 and hereby his prayer was answered; and thus, as Christ was heard and answered, whilst he was yet speaking, so are his people sometimes; and even their countenance is altered, when they are favoured with communion with God, and instead of a sad and dejected countenance, they have a cheerful one.
And his raiment was white and glistering; it was as white as the light, as snow, and whiter than any fuller on earth could whiten, as the other evangelists say, and so glistened exceedingly; See Gill on Matthew 17:2. See Gill on Mark 9:3.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
29. as he prayed, the fashion, &c.—Before He cried He was answered, and while He was yet speaking He was heard. Blessed interruption to prayer this! Thanks to God, transfiguring manifestations are not quite strangers here. Ofttimes in the deepest depths, out of groanings which cannot be uttered, God's dear children are suddenly transported to a kind of heaven upon earth, and their soul is made as the chariots of Amminadab. Their prayers fetch down such light, strength, holy gladness, as make their face to shine, putting a kind of celestial radiance upon it (2Co 3:18, with Ex 34:29-35).
raiment white, &c.—Matthew says, "His face did shine as the sun" (Mt 17:2), and Mark says (Mr 9:3), "His raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow, so as no fuller on earth can white them" (Mr 9:3). The light, then, it would seem, shone not upon Him from without, but out of Him from within; He was all irradiated, was in one blaze of celestial glory. What a contrast to that "visage more marred than men, and His form than the sons of men!" (Isa 52:14).
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