And after six days Jesus takes Peter, James, and John his brother, and brings them up into an high mountain apart,…
I. THE PLACE.
II. Let us direct our attention to the PERSONS assembled on the Mount. We learn, I think, that saints, after death, know each other. Moses and Elias did so; and even the disciples, in a way not explained, were enabled to identify their celestial associates. Are we to say, then, that an earthly mountain was more than the heavenly Zion? It further appears, from what has been said, that the recompense of saints after death has some proportion to their prior discipleship. Jesus on this occasion had special honour to confer on some members of the heavenly Church, and whom did He select to be the subjects of distinction? In short, we learn here that saints may see more of the Church and of the world after death than before it. Moses desired, prayed for admission to Canaan. The request was denied, and yet here he is — all as you wished, and as he wished — within Palestine, and surveying from no foreign Pisgah, but from one of its own mountains, the inheritance of his people.
III. Let us consider the CONDITION IN WHICH THESE PERSONS APPEARED ON THE MOUNT. It is unnecessary that I should expatiate on the aspect of the disciples. No intimation is given of any change in their state. They remained as they had been, and their bodies displayed all the frailties common to our frame. The most interesting fact in their case is that they were not changed; and we hence see the folly of looking for transformation of our natures from any juncture of circumstances. It was otherwise with Moses and Elias. We are told by St. Luke that they appeared in glory. That glory is manifest when we compare what they once were with what they have now become. Moses has no more need of Aaron and Hur to sustain his arm for the discomfiture of Amalek. Though fifteen hundred years have passed over him they have brought no frailties of age, but the inextinguishable fires of an immortal youth. Mark the disparity between them and the apostles. Both parties were on the summit of a mountain, but how different their manner of reaching it! On the one hand the approach was from beneath, by slow, tedious, arduous steps. On the other hand the approach was from above, from the holiest of all in the third heavens, and was effected by a descent which no barrier could obstruct and no distance protract. When a bright cloud came and overshadowed them, the disciples, as we learn from St. Luke, feared to enter into the cloud; its lustre dazzled or appalled them. There was no such apprehension on the part of Moses and Elias; the wide universe contained not that which could frighten them; and as to the glory of God, its light, so inaccessible to mortals, was their element of joy. The disciples fell asleep, overcome by consternation and fatigue. But while they slept Moses and Elias talked with Jesus, and freely discussed the deep things of God. But I am restricting your attention to mere men, when one and another and many are saying, "We would see Jesus." "His face did shine as the sun." Usually it was darkened by grief; but now gloom is gone.
IV. Let us now direct our attention to their DISCOURSE. The subject discussed by such an assembly must surely have been important: it was important to all there assembled. You require no proof that the event spoken of was important to Jesus, for He was to be the sufferer. The subject was also important to Moses and Elias. No doubt they were glorified saints, but all this blessing they had acquired in virtue of the Messiah's anticipated sufferings; and not a plant bloomed in their paradise, not a note thrilled in their songs, not a gem gleamed in their crowns, but was due to the decease which Christ should accomplish at Jerusalem. The three disciples had a like stake in the event, which was not the less precious to them that they were insensible to its consequence. But these disciples were representatives of the New Testament Church, and if so, what was important to them is important to us. Christ died, not for their sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
(David King, LL. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,