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sorrowing disciples in Galilee. Whilst only one hundred and twenty names were found in Jerusalem, more than five hundred were collected in Galilee, and hence Galilee was the most suitable place for this meeting. In Jerusalem they were compelled to meet in secret rooms and upper chambers, at night, by stealth, with locked and guarded doors, for fear of their enemies, and but a few could enjoy the privilege of seeing and hearing their risen Lord. In Galilee were many who, by reason of age, poverty, sex, or other causes, must have been deprived of the direct proof that Jesus bad risen, had not this meeting been appointed. Hence it was called by our Lord on this mountain, in Galilee, where in the solitude of its sublime elevation, afar from the noise of men, they might gaze on the form of the beloved Master, and listen to the words of his lips.
Tradition designates Tabor as the mount of transfiguration, but the facts of its populousness, and its distance from Capernaum, make it rather improbable that it was the scene of that wonderful transaction. Whatever was the precise locality, the retirement and silence of the mountain, its elevation and grandeur, as a spot rising up to: wards heaven, and purified by its breezes and showers, all combined to make it a suitable place for this remarkable meeting. And we cannot but think how often, since, the stricken disciples have
thus met amid the mountains of Piedmont, Savoy, Switzerland, and Scotland, and found the glens and fastnesses of the rocks to be places of transfiguration to their souls, where they saw the King in his beauty, and the land that is afar off.
II. The importance of this meeting.
That it was important is plain from the facts, that our Lord appointed it the night before he died; that the angels repeated this promise to the women in announcing his resurrection; and that he himself repeated the promise in his interview with them. It was therefore a meeting of great importance, for some reason. If we suppose no unusual appearance of our Lord at that time, we are utterly at fault in trying to discover its importance. But if we suppose a substantial reproduction of the transfiguration scene, its importance and significance are seen at a glance.
The general ground of this importance lies in the fact that this “ upwards of five hundred" comprised nearly, if not all, the whole body of believers then on earth. It was Christ's first and last meeting with the whole church on earth, after the incarvation, until he should come the second time, without sin, unto salvation. One reason of this meeting was that the clearest evidence of his resurrection should be given to the largest num. ber, enabling them to see, hear, and touch him in open daylight, when all ocular deception was impossible. This being done, the whole church could testify to the truth of this fundamental fact ; and twenty years afterwards Paul was able to appeal to this testimony, and to the fact that a majority of this five hundred were yet alive and able to testify that they had seen the risen Jesus.
But this did not exhaust the meaning of this interview. It seems to have had another object, found in the fact already suggested that it was a kind of transfiguration. The language of Matthew seems to demand this supposition. He tells us that two very opposite effects were produced. Some worshipped, and some doubted. Had it been a mere ordinary appearance, these extraordinary effects of it are hard to explain. But if we suppose an extraordinary appearance, we can see how some would be awed into adoration, and others bewildered into doubt, by the august spectacle presented. As Jesus had sealed the lips of Peter, James, and John, until he was risen from the dead, it was to be expected that when thus risen the announcement would be made, and if not made here we have no record of it having been done for nearly half a century. But if we suppose that the seal was then removed, and that the three apostles declared that on this same-spot they had seen the excellent glory, and heard the voice of the Father saying, “ This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased," and that hence
this glorious and divine being, all radiant with the light of heaven, was truly the same lowly and gentle teacher that they had before known and loved, all becomes plain. Those who received the words of the apostle would fall down and worship bim with grateful adoration as the Son of God. But those who were dazzled with this glory, might doubt whether this form of unearthly majesty were truly the same that walked the dusty streets of the city, or sat at the margin of the well in hunger, thirst, and weariness, the “man of sor. rows and acquainted with grief."
In the same supposed fact, we find the grand significance of the transaction. The first transfiguration was designed to strengthen our Lord for “the decease that he was to accomplish at Jerusalem.” The vision of heavenly glory, and the words of heavenly love that Moses and Elias brought, strengthened him by the joy that was set before him to endure the cross, despising the shame. But now he was about to depart to that glory, and leave his disciples to toil, trial, and suffering. Some of them were feeble in faith, as their very doubts indicate. It was then needful for them to have something to strengthen that faith, and enable them to endure the trials before them. What more likely to do both, than a glimpse of that glory which they would share, when called to meet him on the streets of the heavenly city? As they gazed on that radiant form, they would behold, in its heavenly beauty and brightness, a picture of what awaited them, when, after a little season of toil, this vile body should be made like to his glorious body, and they should see him as he is. Hence we cannot wonder that some, as they gazed, began to exult with rapture, and bent the knee in adoring wor. ship, and uttered the first notes of that song, which, begun on earth, is never ended in heaven; whilst others, bewildered, amazed, feeling that it was too glorious a.vision to be real, too wonderful a hope for such poor, perishing creatures as they, should doubt. But in the scene itself thus supposed, we see the wonderful love of Jesus in thus furnishing them so richly for the trials before them, by this blessed vision of the glory that awaited them.
III. Another point remains to be considered, the comparative silence of scripture concerning this important meeting. .
It is remarkable that a meeting like this, so important that it was three times predicted, should not be recorded at length, whilst other meetings, not thus predicted, are thus recorded. It seems strange at first sight that Paul should allude to it, whilst John and James do not.
This fact will also find its explanation in what has been suggested as the grand object of the meeting. Had this meeting been designed to establish