2729. Christ's Transfigured Face

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Christ’s Transfigured Face

No. 2729-47:253. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, August 1, 1880, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, June 2, 1901.

His face shone as the sun. {Mt 17:2}

1. While our Lord Jesus Christ was on this earth, he was as much divine as before he left his Father’s court in heaven. He never ceased to be God, nor was the Godhead for a single moment separated from his humanity. He was, therefore, always glorious. Yet there was a greater glory about him than could usually be seen. This may seem to be a paradox, but it is true. For Christ to be glorious was almost a less matter than for him to restrain or hide his glory. It is for ever his glory that he concealed his glory; and that, though he was rich, for our sakes he became poor; though he was God over all, blessed for ever, he “made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”

2. Our Lord’s humiliation was all perfectly voluntary; and I should not be surprised to learn that, when alone, his face was frequently radiant with glory as it was on this occasion of his transfiguration. I can easily imagine that he may often have returned to what must have been his natural condition when there was no human eye to gaze on him. If you carefully read the four Gospels, I think you will see that there are indications that the glory was always there ready to flash out. What was it that made those, who came to take him in the garden of Gethsemane, go backward, and fall to the ground when he said, “I am?” Was it, do you think, because the light of Jehovah gleamed on them at least in some degree? Certainly there was a mystical glory shining around him at times, and those who came near him appear to have been arrested by it. I imagine that it was something more than natural eloquence which made the officers return without him to the Pharisees and chief priests who had sent them to take him, while they excused themselves by saying, “Never a man spoke like this man.”

3. A kind of radiance would shine out from Christ, in some dim degree, now and then; but, on this occasion, he took off the veil; — indeed, perhaps it would be more correct to say that he lifted just a corner of it, and permitted these three highly favoured individuals to see what was always there, though usually concealed from their eyes. “We beheld his glory,” wrote John. “We were eye-witnesses of his majesty,” wrote Peter. They certainly saw the glory which may, I think, have been revealed at other times when Christ was alone; but whether that was so or not, he had a good reason for letting it be seen on this one occasion, and it may be that we shall gather some instruction while we meditate first on the transfiguration as a whole, and then turn our thoughts especially to the brightness of Christ’s transfigured face.

4. I want you to notice under what circumstances Christ revealed his glory to his three disciples; and my first observation is, that it was in a solitary place. They were on “a high mountain apart.” Learn from this, dear friends, that if we would see Jesus in his glory, we must get apart from the multitude. He may come to us, when we are with his people, as he came to the disciples in the upper room; but there was a kind of loneliness and seclusion even there, for the world was shut out, and no one was there except his own followers. Our Lord delights to talk to his beloved ones when they are in retirement. Leave the servants at a distance from the sacred meeting-place, even as Abraham did, and go up to the top of the hill alone, or with some specially chosen companion. We who live in London need more solitude, — at least, I mean that we need to find for ourselves more opportunities for solitude than those who live in retired places. They almost inevitably walk the fields in the evening, and we may hope that, like Isaac, they have communion with their God there. But if we do not have any fields to walk in, we must somehow manage to get alone. The best visits from Christ are like the best visits we have from those we love, — not in the busy market, or in the crowded street, but when we are alone with them.

5. Our blessed Master also, on this occasion, revealed his glory when he was in prayer. Luke says that, “as he prayed, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing was white and glistening.” Prayer is the key of all mysteries. When Christ would, as it were, unlock himself, the chest, so as to let his disciples see his inner glory, he prayed; and this should teach us that, if we would see Christ’s glory, we also must pray; and if we would glow with the glory of Christ, we must be much in prayer. These are practical truths, — much more practical than many imagine. We are far too often like Martha, “encumbered with much serving”; we need to be more like Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus, looking up into his dear face, and listening to his gracious words. The active life will have little power in it if it is not accompanied by much of the contemplative and the prayerful. There must be retirement for private prayer if there is to be true growth in grace.

6. When our Lord’s disciples saw his glory, it was revealed in an amazing light; and this may teach us how truly divine he is, for “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” It may also show us how he has come to us as the light; — not in the blackness of darkness, to overwhelm us in despair, and make us sit like the Egyptians during that darkness which might be felt; but Christ is “the true Light, which enlightens every man who comes into the world”; and when we see him, we shall perceive it. The glory which the disciples saw was a light that was perceptible by the eye; and there is about the glory of Jesus a moral, mental, spiritual light which we shall behold when we see him as he is. This will be the main thing that we shall see when we are favoured with a sight of him.

7. Something is to be learned also from the individuals to whom our Lord revealed his glory. They were very few; there were only three of them; and I venture to say that, among the saints of God in all ages, there have not been many who have seen our Lord Jesus Christ to the full. Blessed indeed are the eyes that have seen him like that, but they are very few. All of us, who have believed in Jesus, have looked to him, and have been enlightened, and have found salvation through him; but, even among us, there are some who have missed many of their rightful privileges. They are partially blind, and cannot see afar off; by the grace of God, they will get to heaven all right, but they will have much darkness on the road. There are few of us who so remain in Christ, from day to day, as to see him as distinctly as he is to be seen. I must confess that I envy some saints, whose biographies I have read, who have seen the Lord far better than I have; and I aspire, I hunger, I thirst to see as much of him as can be seen on this side of the river of death; why should we not all do so? Eyes are meant to see light, and spiritual eyes are intended to see Christ; and they are never so fully used for their true design as when they are constantly fixed on him; all lower lights being forgotten, and permitted to burn out, while he becomes the one great Light in which the soul basks and revels. Note this then, you multitudes of professors; out of the twelve disciples, only three saw the transfiguration; and what a small proportion were those three to the great company of men and women who at that time were disciples of Jesus!

8. Yet these three were very special people. Some say that Peter was one of them because he loved his Master much; that John was another because his Master loved him much; and that James was the third because he was so soon to die, the first of the apostles who should become a martyr for the faith of Jesus Christ. I do not think, however, that is a good distinction to draw, for I should not say that Peter loved Christ more than John did. Peter was open-hearted, bold, enthusiastic. To my mind, there is something very lovable about Peter; and, in my opinion, we need more Peters in the church of the present day. Though they are rash and impulsive, yet there is fire in them, and there is steam in them, so that they keep us going. As for John, you can all see that it was good that the man, whose head was to lie in the bosom of Christ, who was so affectionately to care for the Master’s mother, and who was to see his Lord “in the isle that is called Patmos,” should behold him once in his glory, so that he might recognise him when he again appeared to him. And as for James, we can easily believe that there were special traits of beauty about his character that made him to be one of those three; his early martyr death, and the fact that he was the brother of John, certainly lifts him up to a very high position among the disciples of Christ.

9. There were three, I suppose, in order that there might not be any question concerning their testimony to the transfiguration. Two or three witnesses were sufficient to establish a case in a court of law. A thing that cannot be proved by three honest men as witnesses, probably cannot be proved by thirty; and if three men join to testify to a lie, probably thirty will not speak the truth.

10. These three disciples were specially chosen to see Christ in his glory because they were to behold him later in his greatest agony. I cannot imagine what must have been their feelings when they first saw him brighter than the sun, and then beheld him red as the rose with bloody sweat. I do not know which sight a man might desire more, — to see Christ robed in light, and brighter than the sun, or to see him crimsoned with his own blood, the very essence of his being poured out in agony for us. “Oh!” said Rutherford, “but was he not bonny when he wore the red shirt of his own blood for you and me?” Oh, the loveliness of an agonizing Saviour! I cannot compare him in these two so strangely differing experiences; one would have needed to see him in both to understand either of them.

11. These disciples saw their Lord in his glory, and also in his agony; and perhaps someone here is saying, “Oh! I wish I could be favoured with those two sights. I wish I could, in vision, if not in actual fact, see the Lord Jesus Christ.” Dear friend, do not ask for anything of the kind; be content to see him by faith, for that is the only sight that you really need. Remember also that although Peter saw Christ like this, he yet lived to deny him; and although James and John saw him, they also forsook him and fled with the rest of the disciples. Well did Peter, therefore, set the revelation of Christ in the Scriptures even above the revelation on the mount of transfiguration when he wrote, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We also have a more sure word of prophecy; to which you do well that you take heed, as to a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns, and the day-star arises in your hearts.”

12. Sacred Scripture, accepted by faith, will give me a better view of Christ than even if —

    “Tabor’s glorious steep I climb”;

for —

    At the too transporting light,
    Darkness rushes o’er my sight.

Therefore it is better calmly and quietly to see Christ in the Scriptures than to wish to behold him either in his glory or in his agony.

13. Another thing which we may learn from our Lord Jesus Christ having shown himself to his disciples like this robed in brightness is, that we are scarcely aware of the glory of which the human body is capable. No one knows what beauty may surround these bodies of ours; they are only “vile” in certain aspects. You know what a difference there is in the appearance of a man when his face is lit up, as we say, or when he is sitting still, and a photographer is taking his portrait. The moment the operator begins to take the cap off the camera, the man’s soul vanishes, and his true likeness is not there at all. But see him when he is full of animation, when he is speaking on some delightful theme; his face lights up, and his whole appearance is changed. I have known some people, who have seemed to me to have an exceptional brightness on their face when they have been speaking about Christ; and very often, the faces of the dying are lit up with a wonderful splendour. There is actually, as physicians know, a kind of luminosity that does arise from the human face in certain stages of disease; that is a brightness which is not to be desired, but our flesh is capable of becoming marvellously transformed when it shall please God to make that change in us. We ourselves shall wonder that such bodies as these can become so light, so bright, so ethereal. The body of Christ became so; and we, in our measure, are to be raised in the likeness of his glorious body. “Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, so we shall also bear the image of the heavenly”; and this image of the heavenly, which the disciples saw on the holy mount, is a kind of index to us of the evident possibility of these poor bodies of ours being clothed with supernal splendour.

14. Now I want to talk to you, though only for a few minutes, about Christ’s transfigured face, concerning which our text says, “His face shone as the sun.”

15. I. First, from this truth we learn that JESUS CHRIST IS THE SAME IN HIS GLORY AS HE WAS BEFORE.

16. He was transfigured, but he was not transformed into another person. Matthew says that “his face shone as the sun.” Then, his face was the same as it was before. It was his face that the disciples saw; all the familiar features of his countenance were there, though illumined with supernatural radiance. So, whatever glory may come to Christ in the future it will be the same dear lineaments that will be lit up with heavenly brightness.

17. And just as there was no change of feature, so there was no change of nature. The transfigured Christ was the same Saviour whom the disciples had known before; and I like to think that, though now he reigns exalted high, he is, so far as his identity and nature are concerned, the same as he was when here below. Nothing has changed in his heart, or in his purposes, or in his intentions towards his people.

18. Further, when he was glorified, his disciples were with him, for Matthew says that he “was transfigured before them.” Do not imagine, dear friends, that our Lord Jesus Christ will forget his disciples when he is in his highest glory. No; even then, they will be with him, for this is part of his great intercessory prayer for them, “Father, I will that they also, whom you have given to me, be with me where I am; so that they may behold my glory.” Circumstances change some people; they rise in the world, and then they do not know their poor friends and relatives; but Christ was not changed in heart by the amazing transformation which he had undergone in being clothed in light. After the transfiguration he spoke to his disciples with just the same gentle, human, tender tones as before; he laid his hand on them in the old-fashioned, familiar way, and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid”; just as, when walking on the water, he had said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”

19. No, dear friends, there was no change in him, for, as I have already reminded you, even when he was revealing his glory like this, his conversation was concerning his decease at Jerusalem. There was no swerving from the great object for which he had descended from heaven; and there was no change either in his feelings or in his manner towards his people.

20. Oh beloved, have you known Christ here? Then you shall know him hereafter. Have you trusted him on the cross? Then he will not disown you when he wears his many crowns, and sits on the throne. You shall say, when you see him in the day of his greatest glory, as we sang just now, —

    This is the Man, th’ exalted Man,
    Whom we unseen adore.

Oh, yes! you shall see the nail-prints shine resplendent, and you shall know that he is indeed your old familiar Saviour, who was with you on earth; and now you are to be with him for ever in heaven.

21. II. Our text also teaches us a second lesson, namely, that THE GLORY OF CHRIST SURPASSES ALL HUMAN EXPRESSION.

22. We can measure the illuminating power of the gas that we burn; we talk of it as having so many candle-power; but will any gentleman, who is quick at calculations compute for us the candle-power of the sun? No; that is a task he never can accomplish; for the sun has more light than all other lights put together. So far as we are concerned, all the lights that we can make or imagine cannot equal the sun; it is the very source of all the light that floods the world on our brightest days.

23. So it is with Christ. He has in him all brightness and glory. If there is any virtue, if there is any goodness, if there is any excellence, it is all in him. One said of Henry the Eighth that, if the portraits of all the tyrants who ever lived had been lost, they might all be painted again from his one face; and, surely, I may change the expression and say that, if all the beauty, and all the goodness, and all the love, and all the kindness that there ever were among men should be forgotten, it might all be reproduced from the character of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

24. We cannot really see the full glory of the sun; some have been blinded by looking at it too intently; and no mortal eye can gaze on all the splendours of Christ. You may see much of him; but there is such a wonderful mystery — such a marvellous excess of glory — about him that, if any man says, “I know him fully,” he proves that he does not know him. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “that I may know him”; yet he had known Christ for many years. I suppose that he knew a great deal more about Christ in the first year of his Christian life than most of us know after twenty or thirty years; yet, after that long period of gracious instruction which the Holy Spirit had given him, he still had to write, as the expression of his most ardent desire, “that I may know him,” for he felt that he had not yet comprehended, with all saints, what are the heights, and depths, and lengths, and breadths, of the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.

25. There is an inexpressible glory about my Master; I can never exaggerate in speaking of it. I can never go to any excess in praising him; I can never extol him so much that anyone shall dare truthfully to say to me, “You have said too much in honour of your Lord.” No; if all human tongues were eloquent, and all spoke his praise for ever; and if all angelic voices never spoke except to laud and magnify him, so glorious is he who the praises of all combined would not rise above the soles of his feet.

26. III. I gather from our text, in the third place, that THE GLORY OF CHRIST IS ALL MEANT TO CHEER AND TO ENLIGHTEN.

27. The light of the sun reveals, and Christ also reveals much to us. In his light we see light. He who knows Christ knows God, who is light. The light of the Spirit of God is given to such as know Christ. They have an unction from the Holy One, and they know all things. Christ has brought immortality to light by his appearing. He is indeed a wondrous Revealer.

28. Christ, like the sun, is also a great Consoler. What comfort the sun brings to us! How sad we should be if we were to lose its light! But, oh! what floods of comfort come streaming down to darkened hearts when Christ, the Sun of righteousness, appears! No lonely watcher on the tower ever sighed for the dawn as those do who love the Saviour, and have lost his company; and never were hands so heartily clapped with exaltation at the light of the sun reappearing in the far North as we clap ours, in a spiritual sense, when Christ reveals himself to us, for he is indeed “the consolation of Israel.”

29. Jesus, also, like the sun, is a great Healer. The Italians say, “Where the sun does not come, the physician will soon come”; but where the sun shines, its beams usually bring at least a measure of health to men. So, where Jesus is, there the sick revive, for healing is found beneath his wings. So the face of Jesus is like the rays of the sun, scattering no malicious vapour, no deadly darts of baleful wrath, but only goodness and love. Oh, that we would all look, by faith, on his blessed face, and receive all the benefits that he is waiting and willing to bestow on us!

30. IV. I am obliged to speak very briefly on each point where one might enlarge almost without end; so I ask you to notice, in the fourth place, that THE GLORY OF CHRIST IS SUCH THAT IT MAY BE REFLECTED BY US.

31. Everyone knows that the sun’s light can be reflected; we owe much to reflected light. Well, the glory of Christ is such that it can shine on you, so that you can see it; and then, afterwards, you can reflect it, and refract it, and send it back onto others. You can give to others something of what Christ has given to you, and this is a very blessed thing. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” in order that we may let that light shine out on others.

32. John says, “We beheld his glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Well, now, you can have grace and truth, and you can so live that you shall be the means of bringing grace to others, and you can so display the truth that some, who have not yet looked to Jesus, can see something of Jesus reflected in you. Some Christians are very poor reflectors; but when we are as we ought to be, we shall be like that invention you see sometimes for underground rooms, where they try to send some of the daylight down by means of a reflector. Many of the poor people of London are both literally and spiritually, underground; very little light ever gets to them; so try to be reflectors, to shed the light on them. Reflectors are not of much use when they get dirty. Unless they are cleaned, they cannot be of much use; and I know some Christians who need a good shower to cleanse them. There are some professors who do not reflect much credit on their profession, I am sorry to say; and they generally blame the minister when this is the case. I sometimes wish that some of you Christians would be more careful concerning what you do, because the blame for your inconsistencies often falls on me. If I could do you any good by bearing it, I would not mind; but it is not so, you bring discredit on the name of the one who wishes to live for the Lord in the best way he can, and who has quite enough faults of his own without having all those of other people unjustly laid at his door. “Ah!” say the fault-finders; “that is one of Spurgeon’s people.” Of course they do; and I am blamed for your wrong-doing, although I am not in the least responsible for it. If the sheep go astray because the shepherd has not done his best to keep them from wandering, blame him; but if he has done all he could, and the sheep then stray, so that the dog has to go after them, do not say that the shepherd ought to have the dog set on him. Oh beloved, try to reflect the glory of God so that people shall ask, “What makes that man’s countenance so bright?” And the answer shall be, “He has set his face so close to the Well-Beloved’s face that he reflects the light that shines from it.”

33. V. Lastly, — for our time fails us, — we learn that THIS GLORY OF CHRIST WILL SOON BE MORE FULLY DISPLAYED.

34. In heaven, the glorified face of Jesus is always to be seen, for we are expressly told that “his servants shall serve him: and they shall see his face.” Their eyes will be especially strengthened so that they can gaze on it without injury.

    “Oh long-expected day, begin,” —

when we, too, shall be caught up to see that wonderful countenance! Do not your desires often make you feel like a bird that wants to fly, but cannot, because it is held down by a chain? Then you sing, —

    My heart is with him on his throne,
       And ill can brook delay;
    Each moment listening for the voice,
       “Rise up, and come away.”

35. Those who see Christ in glory, even from the outermost rank of the saints, are to be envied more than all earthly kings and princes. One said to an old saint, “You cannot see God’s face, and live.” “Then,” he replied, “let me see God’s face, and die”; and I will be glad enough to die a hundred deaths if I may only see Christ. One hour with Christ in glory will more than make up for a weary lifetime of service, or suffering, or poverty, or persecution. I have often tried to imagine what the first five minutes with Jesus Christ in heaven will be like; but I have in vain sought to picture the novelty and freshness of that wonderful time when the soul, filled with amazement, will exclaim, “The half has never been told to me.” The Queen of Sheba was astonished when she saw all the glory of King Solomon; but he was a mere nobody compared with our Lord Jesus Christ. Oh! what will it be to see him?

36. Now I close with this thought, — the glorified face of Jesus is also to be revealed here on earth. In a short time, according to his promise, he will come. I do not know that he is coming tomorrow, but I do not know that he is not coming then. His return may be a thousand years from now, — perhaps, fifty thousand years from now, or it may be before that clock strikes again; but, whenever he comes, he will fulfil his own word, “Surely I come quickly.” One thing is certain, he will come again. In the same way as he went up into heaven, he will return in his own proper person, enthroned on the clouds of heaven, to hold the last assize. And, my hearers, you will be there, every one of you. As surely as you are here, you will be there. When the earth rocks, and the sky shakes, you will be there. When stars are falling like the leaves of autumn, and when heaven and earth shall flee away from his presence, you will be there; and, whether you love him or not, you shall see him, for “every eye shall see him, and those also who pierced him.” Are you ready for his appearing? Do not say, “It will be a long while before it happens.” It may not be; it may be tonight; and if it is a long time, yet he will surely come; and then where will you be? If you live and die without the Saviour, how will you face him? His eyes are as a flaming fire to search you out, and burn into your very soul. Oh, seek his face this very hour! It still shines as the sun. You know that, when you are out of doors, and the sun is shining, you do not ask, “Where is the sun?” Why, my dear man, you cannot help finding out where it is. “Oh, but how can I look at the sun?” My dear man, no one needs to ask such a question as that; you just open your eyes, and look. It is the simplest thing in the world to look; and so, to look to Jesus, which is faith, is the simplest, easiest thing ever performed by man; and that is why it is so difficult for many people. That is another paradox. If it were really difficult, men would do it; but because it is so easy, they say they cannot. “If the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?” said the servants to Naaman their master; “how much rather, then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean?’ ” and so, when the message is, “Look, and live,” you, proud gentleman, want to have a much more elaborate system of salvation. You do not like simply to look to Christ, that you may be saved; but if there is a poor soul anywhere, who is willing to have a whole Christ for nothing, he may have him, and have him now. Accept him; and may God bless you, for Christ’s sake! Amen.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Mt 16:24-17:13}

16:24, 25. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

This is the law of self-sacrifice, based on the sacrifice of Christ, and leading up to the complete sacrifice of the redeemed. We are not our own; we are bought with a price. To try to keep ourselves to ourselves, would be acting contrary to the whole spirit of the redemption which Christ has accomplished for us; and that is the last thing that any Christian should think of doing.

26-28. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Truly I say to you, ‘There are some standing here, who shall not taste of death, until they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”

By which, I suppose he meant that they should see him in his majesty; — that, notwithstanding the cross, they should see something of his crown of glory, as they did when they beheld him after his resurrection, and as they did, even better, when he ascended on high; and as they did, some of them, in vision, when they saw him standing at the right hand of God, even the Father.

17:1. And after six days —

Luke says, “about eight days after these sayings”; but I suppose he counted the day before and the day after. “After six days,” — and the first day was, probably, the first day of the week, so he was now coming to another Lord’s day. One of the high Christian festivals of the life of Christ was about to be celebrated. Jesus was not yet dead, therefore it was not the resurrection that was celebrated on that day, but the transfiguration. “After six days,” — six days’ teaching concerning the cross before he revealed his glory. Dear brethren, there are many in these days who delight to speak almost exclusively about the glory of the second advent. Now, God forbid that we should be silent concerning that great theme! But I think our teaching concerning it must be given after six days’ consideration of the sufferings of Christ. Let those who will say, “We preach Christ glorified; ” but I still intend to say, with Paul, “But we preach Christ crucified.” When I have had my six days for that topic, then I am very glad to have another day to speak concerning Christ’s glory. We must never forget his death; all our immortal hopes are centred in the death of our great Substitute. “After six days” —

1, 2. Jesus takes Peter, James, and John his brother, and brings them up to a high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and his face shone as the sun, and his clothing was white as the light.

“White and glistening,” says Luke; “extremely white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can whiten them,” says Mark.

3. And, behold, —

As if this was a great wonder. The transfiguration of Christ could scarcely be called miraculous, for it is according to the nature of Christ that his face should shine, and his very clothing become glorious.

3. There appeared to them Moses and Elijah talking with him.

Moses, the great representative of the law, and Elijah, the chief of the prophets, — one who had died, and one who had entered heaven without dying, — so representing both the quick and the dead.

4. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here: if you wish, let us make three tabernacles here; one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

If Peter had known that hymn by Dr. Watts, —

    My willing soul would stay
       In such a frame as this,
    And sit and sing herself away
       To everlasting bliss; —

he would have thought it appropriate to sing at that moment; and whenever we get up on the mount, we have no desire to go down again. Our one thought is, “Oh, that this happy experience would last! Oh, that we might remain in this blessed company for ever!” Yet our highest religious excitements cannot continue, even as the sea is not always at flood-tide.

The conversation between those three — Jesus, and Moses, and Elijah, — must have been well worth hearing. I would like to have been one of the three untransfigured, unglorified disciples, to listen to the conversation of the three glorified ones. We know what they talked about, for Luke tells us that they “spoke of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem”; and it is very unusual that the Greek word which he used to describe Christ’s decease is the word “exodus.” They “spoke of his exodus which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.” Moses knew all about the exodus out of Egypt; and what a type that was of Christ’s departure out of this world; — the death of the lamb, — the sprinkling of the blood, — the slaying of the firstborn among the Egyptians, even as Christ struck sin, death, and hell; — the triumphant coming out of Israel, with silver and gold, representing Christ’s ascension to his Father with all his precious treasures captured from the hand of the enemy.

How changed must the feelings of Elijah have been since the day when he said, “I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away”; for now he was seeing the King in his glory, and talking with him about his approaching departure.

How did Peter, and James, and John know that these two men were Moses and Elijah? They had never seen them in the flesh, yet they evidently recognised them; so, just as they knew people whom they had not known on earth, so I am sure that I shall know in heaven those whom I knew here; I shall have the advantage over them in that respect. I suppose they said to each other, as soon as they saw these men, “That is Moses, and that is Elijah”; yet they had never seen them; and shall not we, when we meet our dear kindred and friends, say at once, “That is So-and-so, with whom I took sweet counsel on earth when we walked to the house of God in company?” Surely, the mutual recognition of the saints hardly needs a better support than this passage supplies.

5. While he yet spoke, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them:

The Shekinah cloud, which was the type of the divine presence in the wilderness, — bright, yet a cloud, softening the excessive glory of the face of Jesus with its overshadowing, yet casting no dimness on it: “a bright cloud overshadowed them”:

5, 6. And behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear him.” And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were extremely afraid.

We cannot bear for God to come too near us; for we are such frail clay vessels that, if he reveals his glory too much within us, we are ready to break.

7. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.”

Indeed, it was Jesus only who could give them comfort; and I have to say, —

    Till God in human flesh I see,
       My thoughts no comfort find;
    The holy, just, and sacred Three
       Are terrors to my mind.
    But if Emmanuel’s face appear,
       My hope, my joy, begins;
    His name forbids my slavish fear,
       His grace removes my sins.

The hand of a man touched the disciples, and the voice of a man said to them, “Arise, and do not be afraid.”

8. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, except Jesus only.

And they did not want any other man “except Jesus only.” Let Moses, and Elijah, and all others go, as long as Christ remains. There will be the most blessed company for us as long as he remains with us.

9, 10. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, “Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man is risen again from the dead.” And his disciples asked him, saying, “Why do the scribes then say that Elijah must come first?”

“May we not tell the story of what has happened on this mountain? Elijah has come. If we proclaim this news, it may convince even the scribes that you are the Messiah.”

11, 12. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Elijah truly shall come first, and restore all things. But I say to you, that Elijah is come already, and they did not know him, but have done to him whatever they wished. Likewise also the Son of man shall suffer at their hands.”

How he comes back to that point! Evidently the chief thought in our Saviour’s mind was concerning his suffering. On another occasion, he said, “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!” Just as the magnetic needle always points to the pole, so did the heart of Jesus always point to the cross.

13. Then the disciples understood that he spoke to them concerning John the Baptist.

John had indeed come “in the spirit and power of Elijah,” yet Herod had put him to death, as other wicked men would deal with his Lord and Master whose way he so gloriously prepared.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, His Praise — ‘Altogether Lovely’ ” 421}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus — Idols Destroyed And Jesus Loved” 793}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, In Heaven — The Glory Of Christ In Heaven” 337}

Jesus Christ, His Praise
421 — “Altogether Lovely”
1 To Christ the Lord let every tongue
      Its noblest tribute bring:
   When he’s the subject of the song,
      Who can refuse to sing?
2 Survey the beauties of his face,
      And on his glories dwell;
   Think of the wonders of his grace,
      And all his triumphs tell.
3 Majestic sweetness sits enthroned
      Upon his awful brow;
   His head with radiant glories crown’d,
      His lips with grace o’erflow.
4 No mortal can with him compare,
      Among the sons of men;
   Fairer he is than all the fair
      That fill the heavenly train.
5 He saw me plunged in deep distress,
      He flew to my relief:
   For me he bore the shameful cross,
      And carried all my grief.
6 To heaven, the place of his abode,
      He brings my weary feet:
   Shows me the glories of my God,
      And makes my joys complete.
                     Samuel Stennett, 1787.

The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus
793 — Idols Destroyed And Jesus Loved <7s.>
1 Soon as faith the Lord can see
   Bleeding on a cross for me,
   Quick my idols all depart,
   Jesus gets and fills my heart.
2 None among the sons of men,
   None among the heavenly train,
   Can with Jesus then compare,
   None so sweet, and none so fair!
3 Then my tongue would fain express
   All his love and loveliness;
   But I lisp, and falter forth
   Broken words, not half his worth.
4 Vex’d I try and try again,
   Still my efforts all are vain:
   Living tongues are dumb at best,
   We must die to speak of Christ.
                     John Berridge, 1785.

Jesus Christ, In Heaven
337 — The Glory Of Christ In Heaven
1 Oh the delights, the heavenly joys,
   The glories of the place
   Where Jesus sheds the brightest beams
   Of his o’erflowing grace!
2 Sweet majesty and awful love
   Sit smiling on his brow,
   And all the glorious ranks above
   At humble distance bow.
3 Those soft, those blessed feet of his,
   That once rude iron tore,
   High on a throne of light they stand,
   And all the saints adore.
4 His head, the dear majestic head
   That cruel thorns did wound,
   See what immortal glories shine,
   And circle it around!
5 This is the Man, th’ exulted Man,
   Whom we unseen adore;
   But when our eyes behold his face,
   Our hearts shall love him more.
                        Isaac Watts, 1709.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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