And after six days Jesus takes Peter, James, and John his brother, and brings them up into an high mountain apart,…
Some have questioned whether this is to be received as real history. Rationalism calls it "The dream of Peter." Some talk of it as a mere scenic display, to awaken the dull and sleepy disciples, but of no further moment or significance. Even some comparatively sound theologians have satisfied themselves with assigning it a basis of historic truth, but much exaggerated by the dreamy imaginations of the witnesses. A dream! It is not likely that three men would each dream precisely the same thing, at the same time; or that they would all be so perfectly deceived as to tell it for fact m their most serious discourses and writings. .Nor do I know by what authority we are to regard that as a dream, which the record says the witnesses beheld when they were wide awake. We will notice —
I. THE PEACE. This is specifically described as " up in an high mountain." There is much said in the Scriptures about mountains, and many of the most memorable events of sacred history transpired upon mountains. The Law was given upon a mountain: the last decisive conflict with the prophets of Baal, and the last of the three great conflicts of our Saviour with Satan, occurred on mountains. The offering up of Isaac, the great type, and the subsequent offering up of Christ, the antitype, were accomplished upon mountains. All this is not mere accident. Mountainous elevations are particularly fitted to the sacred and the Divine. They are Nature's symbols of the Majesty of God. They have a natural harmony with His everlasting purity, power, and Godhead.
II. THE WITNESSES. "Peter, James, and John his brother." There were different circles, even within the little circle of the twelve, to which different degrees of privilege and trust were given. Not all the members of our natural bodies have the same functions, or the same honour; and so the members of Christ "have not all the same office." And yet we are to "covet earnestly the best gifts."
III. THE TRANSFORMATION — "He was transfigured before them."
IV. THE TIME, particularly as related to the act in which the Saviour was occupied — prayer. Prayer is a transfiguring power. It is the opening of the earthly nature to the inflowing of the heavenly. Prayer is the drawing near of the soul to the light and majesty of heaven, and always gathers to itself the gilding of that light. It not only ascends to heaven, but it calls heaven into itself, and illumines with the grace of heaven, and makes, not only the face, but the whole man, more heavenly.
V. THE ACCOMPANYING APPARITIONS — "And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with Him." However alone we may seem to be in our devotions, we are never alone. Though effectually withdrawn from this world, beings of another then join us.
VI. But, finally, NOTICE THE PARTICULAR MEANING OF ALL THIS. It had, first of all, an important relation to the fore announcements which the Saviour had just been making of His approaching sufferings and death (Matthew 16:21; Mark 9:31; Luke 9:22). These sad things had greatly disturbed, perplexed, and disheartened the disciples. And it was necessary that they should be strongly certified of the Saviour's Divine glory before He went down into those dreadful depths, lest their faith should utterly fail them when the facts should occur. We are also fully authorized to take the Transfiguration as a picture and earnest of His future coming and kingdom, which is to embody the consummated results of His obedience unto death. If it was a foretaste and pledge of "the glory that should follow" from His sufferings, it must needs be of the same kind and nature with that of which it was a section given in advance. Brethren, "it doth not yet appear what we shall be."
(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,