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are covered with snow during winter, and some of this snow remains in places during the year.
Now we do not believe that the Lord took his disciples up into this highest peak. In the ordinary way of ascent from Cæsarea Philippi, it would have been a journey requiring much time and labor. But we are firmly persuaded that on some one of the mountain heights that overlook Cæsarea Philippi, Jesus took Peter, James and John to be witnesses of his Transfiguration. There was heard the voice from Heaven: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” About a quarter of an hour's ride above Banias, the site of Cæsarea Philippi, there are extensive ruins of a castle on an eminence nearly fifteen hundred feet above the town. This would be a very probable site for the Transfiguration. See A Diary of My Life in the Holy Land.
A weak objection is urged against this location of the event, that when Jesus came down from the mount, he found his disciples in contention with the scribes. The country round about Cæsarea Philippi was not much inhabited by Jews, and the opponents of our opinion demand that the scene be laid in a more Jewish environment. This is answered by a word. We know that great multitudes were constantly following Jesus, and it is very probable that a crowd went with the father of the demonized boy to see the expected miracle. The Scribes followed to lay snares against the Lord.
From Luke, we learn that the Transfiguration took place while Jesus was praying. In fact, Luke tells us that Jesus took the three Apostles and went up into the mountain to pray.
Luke also tells us that “Peter and those that were with him were heavy with sleep.” Wherefore, we conclude that the event took place at night. It was a usual thing for Jesus to go up into a mountain to pray by night. And this night he took with him these three witnesses.
The event corresponds in many things to the night before the Crucifixion. On that night, also, Jesus went out to Gethsemane, on Mount Olivet, to pray. He took with him the same three witnesses; and while he prayed, they also were heavy with sleep. But at this point comes a great contrast. Those on the Mount of the Transfiguration saw the glory of the Lord; while those in the Garden of Gethsemane saw no glory, but only heard the wail of anguish of the man on whom God had placed all our iniquities. The glory of the Transfiguration was given to enable men to look through the gloom of Gethsemane and Calvary to the everlasting glory of the Kingdom that was purchased by that Atonement; to prove to men that the Crucifixion was not inflicted on the Lord by any necessity, but by his own free choice.
This mighty contrast is in the Christian's life also. The Christian is here now in Gethsemane and on the way to Calvary. Beyond the gates of death is the mount of his transfiguration.
In the second verse of Matthew's text the Vulgate follows poor authorities in the translation, “his garments became white as snow.” Besides the weight of extrinsic evidence, it will be plain to any one who reads how much stronger is the reading “his garments became white as the light.
The text of Mark also, as rendered by the Vulgate, has the spurious phrase, “as the snow.”
Moses and Eliah appear on the mountain talking with Jesus. Luke tells us that Moses and Eliah spoke of Jesus' decease, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Therefore, the conversation of the Lawgiver and the great Prophet must have been, at least in part, heard by the Apostles.
A curious question arises to determine how the Apostles knew that the two beings who appeared with Jesus were Moses and Eliah. It may have been that, while Moses and Eliah talked with Jesus, their identity was revealed by spoken words.
Luke informs us that Moses and Eliah appeared in glory. In what bodies they appeared, it is not given us to know. It was fitting that these two great witnesses should also appear invested with the glory of those who belong to Christ's triumphant kingdom. Moses appeared as a witness that Christ was the center of the Jewish Law. Eliah, the greatest of the prophets, appears as the representative of his class, to bear witness that the prophecies are fulfilled in Christ.
The force of daypnyopňoavtes, employed by Luke, has been explained by some to indicate that Peter, James and John had fallen asleep, and awaking saw the miracle. But the far more probable opinion is that, though the tendency to sleep was strong upon them, they remained awake and saw the vision.
The Transfiguration is one of the great proofs of the Divinity of Jesus Christ. In the judgment which God will execute upon the world, that fact will form one of the finest proofs that God gave to an unbelieving world abundant evidence that Jesus was the Son of God.
Again, we see in the Transfiguration the highest example of what man can make of his life. As the glory of the transfigured Lord is to the lowly estate of the cross-bearer, so is the glory of the elect to man's present life. No man can be the consubstantial Son of God, but we can be like him in his glory,--we can share in his kingdom, and live his life, and this for all eternity.
When one compares time and eternity, and considers the smallness of the price, and the greatness of the reward, is it not strange that men give their lives for other things, and nelect that for which they were created? The one idea that should possess the Christian is, that there is within him a being like to him who appeared transfigured on the mount; and the strength of human labor should be bent unto the developing of this noble aim of life. As the sculptor, looking upon the rough mass of stone, sees in it the beautiful lifelike statue, and faints not at the long labor that is required to work the creation of his brain out of the shapeless mass, so man should hold that great thought ever uppermost in his mind: What can I do with my life? Am I so living that I shall be fit to stand on that second Mount of Transfiguration, where the vision will no more pass away?
The glory of the transfigured Lord transcended description; but the Evangelists have made the best attempt possible by likening the face of Jesus to the sun, and his raiment to the light.
In the sublimity of the glory of the Transfiguration, Jesus, Moses and Eliah speak of the approaching death of Jesus. This was designed to show the Apostles, and through them the world, that Jesus suffered death, not as the slave of death, but as the master of death. On the fact that Jesus died on
the cross the Jews were principally going to insist, to endeavor to prove that Jesus could not be the Son of God. The conversation on the mount proves that Jesus was offered up because he willed it.
The vision is about to pass; Moses and Eliah are about to leave Jesus, when Peter, enraptured by the glory of the scene, proposed to make three tents on the mount, one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Eliah. The impracticability of Peter's proposition needs not surprise us. Mark and Luke tell us that Peter knew not what he said. The rapture that he felt at the vision moved him to wish to perpetuate it. His mind was so strongly moved that he thought of nothing but of his desire to be in the presence of such glory.
At this point Rhabanus Maurus makes the following beautiful reflection: "Wherefore, if Blessed Peter contemplating the glorified humanity of Christ, is filled with such great joy that he would in nowise be removed from the vision, who can conceive the blessedness of joy of those who shall have merited to see the fulness of his Divinity? And if (Peter) thought it the highest good to witness the transfigured countenance of the man Christ on the mount, with only two saints, Moses and Eliah, what power of speech can express, what mind can understand what are the joys of the just, when they are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, and to innumerable hosts of Angels, and shall see the great architect and builder of that city-God, 'not in a mirror, darkly,' but face to face?"
While Peter was speaking, a bright cloud enveloped Jesus, Moses and Eliah, and hid them from the view of the three Apostles. This cloud manifested the presence of Yahveh. In such manner he was wont to make known his presence in the Old Testament. Thus, in Exodus, XVI. 10,- and, behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in a cloud.” “And the Lord said unto Moses: Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and may also believe thee forever" (Exod. XIX. 9). Thus also, in Exod., XXIV. 15; XXXIII. 9; I. Kings, VIII. 10.
Out of the cloud came the voice of God, attesting the divine sonship of Jesus, and calling upon the world to hear
him. The presence of the glory of God in the cloud and the voice from out of the cloud filled the three Apostles with awe. They fell on their faces before the awful presence of Yahveh. And then the vision passed, and Jesus came and touched the prostrate men, and bade them arise and not fear. And they arose, and looked, and saw only Jesus.
The memory of that event could never be canceled from the minds of those three witnesses. In his Second Epistle, I. 16–17, Peter thus refers to it: "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eye-witnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came this voice out of that excellent glory: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; and this voice we ourselves heard come out of heaven when we were with him in the holy mount."
The Transfiguration is a glimpse of the glory of the Kingdom of Christ. It is a ray of light from Heaven to strengthen humanity's great hope. At the bottom of the mountain in the demonized boy and the helpless Apostles is represented the present state of human life, weighed down by misery and helpless without God. On the top of the mount we see the glory of God. That glory fills Peter's heart with great peace, and ecstatic delight: he wishes to remain there with the Lord in his glory: “It is good for us to be here." But that vision
Before Peter lay the way of the cross before he could be united to his divine Master in glory forever. He must drink the cup which the Lord drank, before he could come to eternal peace.
What clearer evidence could the Father give of the Divinity of his Son than to show him in his transcendent glory and at the same time declare that Jesus was the Son of God ? Faith must be the basis of supernatural hope, and the event of the Transfiguration is a motive of our faith and of our hope. That event was intended for us as well as the Apostles. It beckons us on up to the top of the mountain of human perfection, to that nearer approach to the Light of the world. In the midst of the storms that rage round the base of the mount where we are struggling we are encouraged by the look aloft to the glory of which the