And after six days Jesus takes Peter, James, and John his brother, and brings them up into an high mountain apart,…
"Lord, it is good for us to be here."
I. THIS EVENT HAD A SPECIAL EVIDENTIAL VALUE; it proved to St. Peter and — to the other apostles with him that their Master's claims were not exaggerated; that in giving up all to follow Him, they were not making a mistake; that the religion He had taught them, and of which He was Himself the centre, had come from heaven. These Jews see their Master in the correspondence with the great lawgiver and the prophets. Also they were assured by the voice out of the cloud. Then our Lord's glorious appearance at the Transfiguration was exactly fitted to remove a prevalent objection to the second advent. That objection was due to sluggish imagination rather than to offended reason. The picture of the Son of Man coming in " the clouds of heaven " seemed to a certain order of minds too remote from all experience to be conceivable, and St. Peter's answer in effect is this: "We have been witnesses of an event which has prepared us for the second advent; we saw in the Transfiguration a rehearsal of the glories beyond."
II. Besides contributing an evidence of the truth, the Transfiguration MARKED THE CHARACTER OF THE RELIGION OF CHRIST. It enabled the apostles to distinguish the inner and real value of their Master and His religion from the public estimate of Him. We are all of us affected by the spirit of the men around us. When they saw their Master transfigured, they saw that the vulgar estimate was not the true one; He was not to be measured by that which ordinarily met the eye. "The form of a servant " was but a veil; beneath it were the lineaments of the Lord of glory. In our own day there is a like difference between the popular estimate of the religion of Christ and the true one. But if a man can retire into the solitude of prayer, he may learn to take a different view of religious truth and life. It is not that he invests it with ideal qualities that do not properly belong to it; it is that he escapes from the obscure traditions which have hidden from him the reality. The Transfiguration marked Christianity as a distinctly supernatural religion. We can conceive that Christianity might have been merely natural; in such a system the Transfiguration would have been out of character. The soul requires an object above this world. The Transfiguration is an answer to this need.
III. The Transfiguration was a scene of glory; but it was something more, — IT WAS A PREPARATION FOR A SCENE OF SUFFERING. "His decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem." Does not this show us the true use of a time of prosperity, whether in material or in spiritual things; to prepare for time of trial. Thus is it with nations: times of peace and plenty enable us to prepare for reverse. On the Mount of Transfiguration we should always hear whispers of Calvary.
IV. THE RELIGIOUS VALUE OF OCCASIONAL WITHDRAWAL FROM THE ABSORBING INTEREST OF ORDINARY LIFE. Not seldom does He now, as of old, take Peter and James and John into a mountain apart, and is transfigured before them. He detaches men by some unforseen providence, by some great perplexity, by some great humiliation, by some heart-searching sorrow, from their surroundings, and from their past; He takes them with Him into a high mountain of thought and feeling to which they were previously unaccustomed, and they see how little hitherto they have understood either themselves or Him. Hitherto they have "known Christ after the flesh;" henceforth know they Him so no more. The prayers which had been long used, but with little sense of their meaning, are lighted up with force and pathos that makes them the very language of the soul; the Scriptures, which had been read only as a more interesting department of literature, are found to be, indeed, as St. calls them, "Letters from the heavenly country, describing all that is most important to know about God and about man;" the sacraments, which had been scarcely thought of, or which had been noticed only as graceless forms, are now seen to be channels of the life of the Divine Redeemer; fellow-Christians who had in former days been deemed uninteresting or stupid are now reverently looked up to as characters of rare and of unselfish beauty, whom it is a privilege and a blessing to approach.
Parallel VersesKJV: And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,