And after six days Jesus takes Peter, James, and John his brother, and brings them up into an high mountain apart,…
And six days after. This note refers to the conversation Jesus had with his disciples, in which he said, "The Son of man shall come," etc. (quote Matthew 16:27, 28). But the apostles are all dead, and the kingdom is still future. The Transfiguration, then, must be viewed as a symbolic anticipation and pledge of the kingdom, and Peter and James and John were those referred to who should not taste death until they had seen the Son of man coming in his kingdom; and they saw this when they were "eyewitnesses of his majesty on the holy mount." We propose to show -
I. THAT THE SPIRITUAL GLORY OF THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST IS SET FORTH IN THE TRANSFIGURATION.
1. It exhibits the signs of a new dispensation.
(1) Here is humanity the shrine of Deity. This as a fact existed in the Incarnation. It is roundest in the Transfiguration. This is a new thing. Formerly the Holy Spirit was with men, now he is in them (see John 14:17). The indwelling of the witnessing Spirit characterizes this dispensation.
(2) Moses and Elijah shine in the glory of Jesus. The Law is illustrated by the light of the gospel. Its sacrifices and ablutions now become full of glorious meaning. So are the prophets illustrated. Their personal history is seen to have been typical. Their predictions of Messiah are fulfilled.
(3) Christ is the source of gospel law. The "voice" rebuked Peter's mistake in proposing to make equal tabernacles. "Hear ye him." No longer listen to Moses and the prophets otherwise than as they are heard in the accents of Jesus.
2. It exhibits the signs of a spiritual dispensation.
(1) Here is a remarkable concurrence. Moses fasted forty days in the wilderness of Sinai. So did Elijah. Jesus likewise fasted forty days in "the wilderness" - probably the same. Of no other is this recorded. Here are all those together in glory.
(2) The life of those forty days proclaimed that "man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word" - the precept and the promise "of God." This spiritual life may be studied in the history of that remarkable forty days of the life of Jesus after his resurrection. We are "risen with Christ."
(3) While they fasted from natural food, they feasted on spiritual. While the Israelites fasted during their forty years in the wilderness, they feasted on the bread from heaven.
(4) So the sun-clothed woman - the true Church of Christ - was nourished in the wilderness by the pure Word of God during these "forty and two months" in which she fled from the face of the Jezebel of Rome. The counterpart of this was the feeding of the prophets in the caves by good Obadiah, when they fled from the persecutions of the meretricious Queen of Samaria.
3. It exhibits the tokens of gospel grace.
(1) However glorified, Jesus still remembers Calvary. The matter of the conversation m the mount of glory was the decease he should accomplish at Jerusalem. And now he is in the height of heaven he lives there to make intercession for us.
(2) Calvary is the theme of celestial rapture. It is the burden of the song of the redeemed. Holy angels take up the strain.
(3) Prejudices are dissipated in the light of eternity. "Peter answered," viz. to the conversation about the decease, "Lord, it is good for us to be here." This was the same Peter who, six days earlier, had the presumption to rebuke Jesus for referring to the same decease (see ch. 16:22).
II. THAT THE PHYSICAL GLORY OF THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST IS SET FORTH IN THE TRANSFIGURATION.
1. Jesus will yet appear in royal state.
(1) In the visions of the prophets the two advents of Messiah are blended; and it is only in the fulfilment of the circumstances of the first advent in humiliation that we get clear views of those of the second advent in glory.
(2) Of this glory there were remarkable prophetic anticipations in the glorious Divine forms or similitudes of Old Testament times.
(3) The Transfiguration is a still clearer anticipation. For here we have not only the semblance of a beatified humanity; we have the true humanity of Jesus beatified by the glory of the Godhead.
2. The bright cloud manifested the presence of angels.
(1) If we compare the passages in which the glorious advent of Christ is described, we shall see that those which mention the "clouds" omit the mention of accompanying angels; and so contrariwise, those which mention the "angels" omit the mention of clouds.
(2) Wherever Christ's presence is promised, the presence of his retinue of angels is understood, if not expressed. They are ever present with him in the assemblies of his saints (see Ecclesiastes 7:6; 1 Corinthians 11:10).
(3) Clouds and angels are promiscuously the chariots of God. The clouds of angels were with him in his ascension (cf. Psalm 68:17, 18; Ephesians 4:8-10; see also Psalm 18:10; Psalm 104:1-4).
3. Moses represented the sainted dead.
(1) His appearance upon the mount was a kind of specimen of the resurrection. He had a grand death when, on the mountain summit, God bowed his august head out of heaven and kissed away the soul of his servant. His body was buried. Then there was a contention about this (see Jude 1:9). Was it with respect to the appearance of Moses in this scene?
(2) It was a sample of the first resurrection. The resurrection of the just will take place in two acts (see Revelation 20:4-6). In the first resurrection the "ancients" will appear in glory with Christ (cf. Isaiah 24:23; Daniel 12:1-3);
(3) May we hope for this distinction (see Philippians 3:8-11)? Let us strive.
4. Elijah represented the living who shall be changed.
(1) Paul had special revelation on this subject (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:51-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
(2) These transfigurations will occur during the course of the reign of Christ over the earth. Sinners will die off quickly. Saints will be changed - translated (see Luke 17:34-37).
(3) Of these, Elijah was a specimen. He was translated to heaven in a fiery chariot, and must have been transfigured in his transit. Flesh and blood cannot enter heaven.
(4) What a mingled scene is here! Christ with the glory of the Father. Clouds of angels. Elijah representing the quick. Moses representing the dead. The apostles representing the Church on earth. Heaven and earth will be thus blended in the kingdom of Messiah.
(5) Have we not a note of the time of the kingdom in the "six days'" interval? Does it not correspond with the six ages of Barnabas mentioned in his Epistle? Is this wholly without countenance from Scripture (cf. Daniel 12:12, 13; Hosea 6:2; Hebrews 4:9; 2 Peter 3:8)? There is a wonderful future for the Christian. - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,