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.…
1. The time. Luke says, " about an eight days," Matthew and Mark, "after six days." The reconciliation is easy. Matthew and Mark spoke of the space of time between the day of prediction and the day of Transfiguration exclusively; Luke includes them both.
2. The persons chosen to attend Him in this action.
(1) Why three? (Deuteronomy 17:6.) And as John speaks (1 John 5:7, 8) of three witnesses in heaven and three on earth, so here are three and three, three from heaven — God the Father, Moses, "and Elias; and three from earth — Peter, James, and John.
(2) Why those three? Many give divers reasons. Peter had led the way to the rest in that notable confession of Christ (Matthew 16:16), and is conceived to have some primacy for the orderly beginning of actions in the college of the apostles. James was the first apostle who shed his blood for Christ (Acts 12:2), and John was the most long-lived of them all, and so could the longer give testimony of those things which he heard and saw, till the Church was well gathered and settled.
3. The place. A high mountain.
(1) For elevation.
(2) For secrecy.
4. The preparative action. Prayer.
II. THE TRANSFIGURATION ITSELF.
1. Its nature. It was a glorious alteration in the appearance and qualities of His body; not a substantial alteration in the substance of it. It was not a change wrought in the essential form and substance of Christ's body, but only the outward form was changed, being more full of glory and majesty than it used to be or appeared to be.
(1) How His body, now transfigured, differed from His body at other times during His conversing with men. Though the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in Him always, yet the state of His body was disposed so as might best serve for the decency of human conversation; as the sun in a rainy, cloudy day iS not seen, but now as it might cover His Divine nature, it would break out in vigour and strength.
(a) It was not a change or alteration of the substance of the body, as if it were turned into a spiritual substance; no, it remained still a true human mortal body with the same nature and properties it had before, only it became bright and glorious.
(b) As the substance of the body was not changed, so the natural shape and features were not changed, otherwise how could it be known to be Christ, the shape and features were the same, only a new and wonderful splendour put upon them.
(c) This new and wonderful splendour was not in imagination and appearance only, but real and sensible.
(2) How His body transfigured differed from His glorified body.
(a) Partly in the degree and measure, the clarity and majesty of Christ's glorified body is greater and more perfect. Here is a representation, some delineation, but not a full exhibition of His heavenly glory.
(b) Partly in continuance and permanency this change was not perpetual, but to endure for a short time only, for it ceased before they came down from the Mount.
(c) The subject or seat of this glory differed, the body of Christ being then corruptible and mortal, but now incorruptible and immortal. If Christ's body had been immortal and impassible, then Christ could not die.
(d) Here are garments, and a glorified body shall have no other garments than the robes of immortality and glory in heaven. Christ shall be clothed with light as with a garment.
2. Its objects.
(1) To show what Christ was. The dignity of His Person and office.
(2) To show what Christ should be; for this was a pledge with what glory He should come in His Kingdom (Matthew 16:27); it prefigured the glory of His second coming.
(3) To show what we shall be; for Christ is the pattern.Uses:
1. Be transformed, that you may be transfigured (Romans 12:2). The change must begin in the soul.
2. Be contented to be like Christ in reproaches, disgraces, and neglect in the world, that you may be like Him in glory. Your Lord is a glorious Lord, and He can put glory upon you.
3. To wean our hearts from all human and earthly glory; what is a glorious house to the palace of heaven; glorious garments to the robes of immortality? The glory of Christ should put out the glory of these petty stars that shine in the world, as the sun puts out the fire. We have higher things to mind; it is not for eagles to catch flies, or princes to embrace the dunghill.
4. Since this glory is for the body, do not debase the body, to make it an instrument of sin (1 Thessalonians 4:4). "Possess your vessels in sanctification and honour," do not offend God to gratify the body, as they do (Romans 14:13) who make provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof. Do not spare the body to do God service (Acts 26:7).
(T. Manton, D. D.)And it would be good for us also to be on the mount, for we, too, need to see Jesus transfigured. Some would say, if they were honest, that while they have a certain admiration for Christ, they see nothing transcendent in Him. To them, He is only one among the great — one among great peaks, not the greatest peak of all. They are not on the height where He is to be seen. They must ascend the mount of knowledge and faith, where alone His glory is to be seen. Have we seen this glory of Christ? Some say, "These 'visions' are a questionable good; they lead people into saying foolish things." But notice, it was only Peter who spoke, John and James were silent; Peter would not have spoken so if he had taken time to think, but Peter was always impetuous. What, then, was the good to the disciples? It struck down their prejudices. It silenced all objections to the death of Christ. The Church has come during the last fifty years to enjoy a vision of the Transfiguration of Christ — that is, to see more than in previous centuries the glory of His character and of His death. Christ is more prominent, more precious to the Church than ever before. It has consequently been delivered from many prejudices, and has been prepared for the great trial of anti-christian criticism. It is good for us to be here in this generation. But if this be true of the Church at large, let it be true also of our Own individual lives; you have difficulties about His death. Could you but see His glory these difficulties would vanish away. Or you have trials of various kinds — they will seem insignificant on the Mount of Transfiguration. But how shall we get on to the mount? how obtain these glorious views of Christ? Be guided by the circumstances before us. It comes
(1) by abiding with Christ;
(2) by free communion with Christ;
(3) by increasing devotion to Christ.The excellence of a great picture or book or character does not always appear at first. So we must have some good knowledge of Christ, some acquaintance with Him. Let there be an earnest study of these Gospels. Be not impatient. See how freely these three talked with Christ, There must not only be thought about Christ, but free talk with Him.
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.