And after six days Jesus takes Peter, James, and John his brother, and brings them up into an high mountain apart,…
The intention of this scene seems to have been to inaugurate the sufferings of Christ, and to set him apart as the Lamb of God who was to take away the sin of the world. Being a public event, it behoved that it should be witnessed, and the same three men are chosen as witnesses of the rehearsal of his sufferings who are afterwards witnesses of the sufferings themselves in Gethsemane - the three most closely bound to him in affection. On both occasions their conduct proved how utterly helpless we are in the matter of our own salvation. One would have expected they would have been forward to aid their Master, or, if not to aid, at least to sympathize with him. But on both occasions they fell asleep. The world's redemption had really to be transacted in spite of the world; the best men of the world were indifferent, were asleep, when the crisis of the battle was passing, when its Redeemer was agonizing on its behalf. To our Lord the strength received from the Father by prayer was more needful than the restoring sweetness of sleep. In it was to be found more real detachment from care, more vital renewal of energy. It was probably for his encouragement and that of the disciples that this earnest was given of his triumph over death, and of his glorified condition. The significance of the reappearance of Moses and Elias is not hard to discern. They came as representatives of the two great economies through which God had dealt with men, and guided them to himself, to lay down their office, and recognize Christ as the One in whom the Law and the prophets were fulfilled. Every acceptable sacrifice of the Mosaic economy was acceptable through the sacrifice of Christ. Every hope kindled by the prophets rested for its fulfilment on him. And how do they testify their homage? "They spake," says Luke, "of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem." The Law was to find its highest fulfilment in the most lawless of transgressions; prophecy found its richest in that which seemed to destroy hope itself. In the persons of these two our Lord would see as at one view all who had put their trust in God from the foundation of the world; all who had put their faith in sacrifice, believing that God would find a true Propitiation; all who had hoped in his tender mercy, and through dark and troublous times had strained to see the Consolation of Israel. The whole anxiety of guilty consciences, the whole longing sigh for the promised Messiah that had breathed through the ancient Church, at once becomes audible to his ear, and confirms his resolution that their trust shall not be put to shame. Steadfastly does he set his face to go to Jerusalem, more than ever determined that the glorified state which Moses and Elias have attained shall, by his shame and death, be secured to them, and to all those of whom they are the firstfruits. To complete the act of installation it was requisite, not only that the former mediators should resign their office, but that the real Mediator should be definitely nominated; and therefore a voice is heard from the cloud saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." And so, with no witnesses but these disciples, the world's history is transacted. It is summed up in these three, God commanding, God encouraging, God fulfilling; and these three are summed up in one - God saving. "When the disciples lifted up their eyes, they saw no mall, save Jesus only."
I. First, we learn that CHRIST IS NOW THE ONE MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MAN. The one command now is, "Hear ye him." When Moses and Elias retired, and the disciples saw no man, save Jesus only, the whole burden of legal ceremonial fell from their shoulders. With the one temple of the Lord's body left to view, how simple must all religion and service have seemed, consisting simply in their loving and cleaving to their Lord and Master - the compassionate, considerate, righteous Lord Jesus Christ! We are often satisfied with the means of grace, the things that lead to Christ. But God calls you to come to Christ's self. "Hear ye him." You have a life-and-death question to settle, and for the settling of it there is for you, in the world, "no man, save Jesus only."
II. CHRIST IS OUR SUFFICIENT SAVIOUR. If your troubles and difficulties seem the most real things in the world to you, remember him who chose suffering for his portion, that you might be partakers of his glory. If you are despondent on account of your spiritual condition, remember this sure foundation of all preaching, this proclamation of Christ by God himself. The one utterance of God in New Testament times is this intimation, three times heard by Christ, that by laying down his life for sinners God was well pleased with him. Only by coming can you please him. Indifference to the voice would have been guilt in the apostles; it is equal guilt in you.
III. THE CONDUCT OF PETER WARNS US AGAINST TOO MUCH DREAD OF SUFFERING, OR OF BEING CALLED TO ENTER A CLOUD; and against too much desire to rest in any one experience or state. The darkest cloud your Lord calls you to enter will be irradiated by his presence. And if by any experience you have obtained stronger faith or a more lively sense of Christ's worth, be not anxious to build a tabernacle for sweet experiences, while there are countless works of charity, patience, energy, awaiting you. Believe that the whole line of earthly experiences can be lit up with God's present favour. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,