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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[Mat. 17:1–9. Mark 9:1–8. Luke 9:28–36]

A SHORT time before His Passion, Jesus took with Him Peter, James and John, and went up to a high mountain to pray. And whilst He prayed, He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His garments became white as snow. And behold, Moses and Elias appeared, discoursing with Him concerning His Passion and Death, which He was soon to suffer for the redemption of the world.

 

Fig. 78. Mount Thabor.

Transported with joy at the sight, Peter exclaimed: “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.” As he was yet speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and the Voice of the Eternal Father was heard, saying: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased. Hear ye Him!”

The disciples fell prostrate on the ground, terrified by the heavenly Voice. Then Jesus came to them, and touched them, saying: “Arise, and be not afraid!” When they arose, they saw no one but Jesus alone. As they went down from the mountain, Jesus said to the three disciples: “Tell the vision to no one till the Son of Man be risen from the dead.”

The Divinity of Christ is proved:

a) by the testimony of His heavenly Father, Who, at the time of our Lord’s Transfiguration, declared for the second time that Jesus was His beloved Son.

b) by the teaching of the apostles, who were eye-witnesses of His divine glory. This glory was visibly manifested at the Transfiguration, and was seen by the three apostles. Therefore St. Peter was able to write in his second epistle (1:16, 17, 18) thirty-five years later: “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ: but having been made eye-witnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honour and glory; this voice coming down to Him from excellent glory: ‘This is My beloved Son in whom I have pleased Myself. Hear ye Him!’ And this voice we heard brought from heaven, when we were with Him in the holy mount.”

c) by our Lord’s own prophecy of His Resurrection, when He forbade the apostles to tell what they had seen, till after He had risen from the dead.

Jesus is the Messias and Lawgiver of the New Testament. The apparition of Moses and Elias proved Jesus to be the Messias to whom the law and the prophets pointed. They paid homage to Him as their Lord, Who had fulfilled the law and the prophets, and Who by His impending death would release the holy men of the Old Covenant from Limbo, and admit them into heaven. The Voice of the heavenly Father proclaimed Jesus to be the Founder and Lawgiver of the New Covenant, the teaching of which all men are bound to believe, and the commandments of which they are bound to obey. This narrative, therefore, reveals Jesus to us as the Messias, and the Fulfiller of the law and the prophets, the Divine Founder and Lawgiver of the New Covenant, the Redeemer of mankind in all ages, and the centre of the history of the world.

Thabor and Golgotha. This glimpse of glory was meant to make such an impression on the three apostles, as to prevent their losing courage or faith when, ere long, they saw their Lord in the hour of His deep abasement, and in that fearful state of suffering, when “there was no beauty or comeliness in Him” (Old Test. LXXII). In fact, the Transfiguration contrasts with the Crucifixion in every respect. In the one, we perceive Christ in wondrous majesty—on either side of Him two Saints—, the revelation of God, and the disciples in rapture. In the other we see our Lord marred and disfigured—on either side of Him two thieves—, abandoned by God, and with Him His sorrowing Mother, the grief-stricken John, and the weeping women.

The happiness of heaven. If one passing glimpse of their Lord’s glory could fill the apostles with such rapture, how unspeakable must be the happiness of heaven, where the blessed see God face to face, and rejoice in the company of the Saints and angels. Truly it will be good to be there!

APPLICATION. While Jesus was praying, He was transfigured. Have you ever been able to watch any one who is praying interiorly and with recollection? You can see devotion on his very countenance, and he is, as it were, transfigured. Prayer raises and ennobles a man, and makes him heavenly-minded, filling him with peace and conformity to God’s will. He who prays devoutly feels himself raised and filled with joy. Have you ever prayed thus? Compose yourself carefully before you begin your prayers, and say: “Lord, teach me how to pray!”








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