And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.…
I. TRANSFIGURATION DOES NOT SEEM TO HAVE BEEN AN UNUSUAL EXPERIENCE WITH OUR LORD. He was accustomed to go apart to pray — to ascend mountains and spend whole nights in devotion. He was accustomed to meet heavenly beings there. He was accustomed to shine among them as the light. All this we know. But once He took three earthly witnesses, and permitted them to see those angels, who "strengthened Him," "comforted Him," "ministered to Him." Some, at least, of these celestial visitors were seen to be pious men who had lived and tried to do God's will on earth. One of them certainly had died, and been buried as we must be. Look upon this lantern. Its sides are unflecked crystal. No stain dims their transparency. Each ray of the Drummond light that blazes within them is perfectly transmitted. Such a light in such a body was Jesus Christ when His soul had been kindled by converse with Moses and Elias upon the theme which at His birth made heaven sing.
II. WHAT LESSONS DID CHRIST MEAN TO TEACH HIS DISCIPLES BY GOING THUS ONCE INTO HIS CLOSET WITHOUT HAVING SHUT TO THE DOOR?
1. He showed them the source of His strength. Such seasons of communion with heaven are needed by His disciples. We need experiences which remind us that we are citizens of eternity — experiences which will make the events of the markets, of the graveyard, and even wars and rumours of wars, seem insignificant, except so far as they move us to consider the "sign of the Son of Man."
2. Christ strengthened His disciples to meet the trouble that was coming, by showing them what that trouble meant. The thing of which blind mortals had been ashamed is the thing in which heaven glories! Is it not plain that the three who most needed this lesson were Peter, who had protested most vehemently against the cross, and James and John the throne-seekers? Peter, who will take the sword to assault the High Priest's servant, and the sons of Zebedee, who would call down fire from heaven after the manner of Elijah before he learned to under. stand the power of Christ revealed in the still, small voice? Did not these most need to be taught that the throne of God was the cross?
3. But why did the Master forbid the three to mention the heavenly interview until after He should arise from the dead? Plainly a prominent purpose of the peculiar experience granted them was, to impress their minds with a consciousness of the sympathy of the two worlds. The scene must have made them feel that heaven and earth were adjacent mansions in their Father's house; that the door was always swinging. As their Master retired at will into celestial companionships, so might they. But this was a lesson they did not need to use while He, their Guide, their Friend, their Saviour, was with them in the world. "Hear ye Him!" was the sole direction they required then. But the time was drawing near when they would need to use the lesson learned upon the mount. That time was not when Jesus hung upon the cross, not even when His body lay in the sepulchre, but when He had risen, and they would be tempted to believe that their continued communion with Him was an illusion, an "idle tale." And most of all after the ascension would they need to realize the meanness of heaven and earth.
(W. B. Wright.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.