Luke 9:28
About eight days after Jesus had said these things, He took Peter, John, and James, and went up on a mountain to pray.
The TransfigurationW. Clarkson Luke 9:28
The Saviour's Secret RevelationsR.M. Edgar Luke 9:18-36
A Bore the CloudW. M. Taylor, D. D.Luke 9:28-36
Arguments in Favour of Hermon as the Scene of the TransfigurationArchdeacon Farrar.Luke 9:28-36
Arguments in Favour of Tabor as the Scene of the TransfigurationVan Oosterzee.Luke 9:28-36
Christ's TransfigurationT. Manton, D. D., T. Goodrich.Luke 9:28-36
Christ's TransfigurationBishop Hacker.Luke 9:28-36
LessonsF. Jacox.Luke 9:28-36
Lessons from the TransfigurationH. M. Grout, D. D.Luke 9:28-36
Luminous HoursH. W. Beecher.Luke 9:28-36
Modern TransfigurationsLuke 9:28-36
Our Lord's TransfigurationW. B. Wright.Luke 9:28-36
The Beauty of Jesus ChristCanon Body.Luke 9:28-36
The Countenance as an IndexW. F. Crafts.Luke 9:28-36
The Irradiation of Our Lord's RaimentCanon Body.Luke 9:28-36
The Mountain Where the Transfiguration Took PlaceCanon Body.Luke 9:28-36
The Prayers of ChristB. Wilkinson, F. G. S.Luke 9:28-36
The Redeeming Majesty of the Son of GodA, J. Morris.Luke 9:28-36
The TransfigurationR. H. McKim, D. D.Luke 9:28-36
The TransfigurationStopford A, Brooke, M. A., D. Moore, M. A.Luke 9:28-36
The TransfigurationT. M. Herbert, M. A.Luke 9:28-36
The Transfiguration of ChristT. S. Evans, D. D.Luke 9:28-36
The Transfiguring LookE. H. Chapin, D. D.Luke 9:28-36
The Transforming Power of Communion with GodJohn Christian, D. D.Luke 9:28-36
Thoughts on the TransfigurationT. Binney.Luke 9:28-36
Transfiguration During PrayerBishop Hacker.Luke 9:28-36
We Must Climb If We Would See ChristBishop Hacket.Luke 9:28-36
Why a Mountain was Chosen for the TransfigurationBishop Hacket.Luke 9:28-36


1. Allusions to the Transfiguration. The scene described in the above parallel passages is as singular as solemn. There are,

He took Peter, and John, and James.


1. Its intent touching Jesus. To strengthen and brace His spirit for the solemn and awful work before Him.

2. Its interest touching Moses and Elias. For them it must have been s new revelation of the wisdom and glory of God in the consummation of His eternal purpose to redeem a ruined world.

3. Its intent touching the three apostles. To rectify their conceptions of the Messiah.


1. It marks the topmost step in the progressive glorification of the manhood of Jesus Christ. His incarnation and His whole life upon earth was a humiliation; but side by side with that humiliation there was going on a process of glorification. From infancy His person had been the centre of a widening circle of epiphanies, manifesting forth the glory which was progressively unfolded within the Tabernacle of His humanity.

2. It may be looked upon as the inauguration of the New Covenant. The law and the prophets, having prepared the way for the new dispensation of grace, mercy, and peace, in Christ Jesus our Lord, now appear as His attendant ministers, at once to bear witness to Him, and to learn from Him the mystery of redemption. Then, having borne their testimony, they give way to Him, and the voice of God proclaims Him the Head and Lord of all.

3. It represents to us the investiture of Jesus Christ as High Priest. The Father was now robing His Son in the sacred garments of His holy priesthood in which he was to offer the great sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, and, bearing upon His heart the names of His people, to pass through the veil — that is to say, His flesh — into the Holy of holies in the heavens, now to appear in the presence of God for us.

4. It is, above all, designed to exhibit to us the transcendent value of the sufferings and death of Christ. In the Basilica at Ravenna there is a mosaic of the sixth century, representing in emblematical form the Transfiguration of Christ — a jewelled cross set in a circle of blue studded with golden stars, in the midst of which appears the face of Christ, the Saviour of the world; while from the cloud close by is thrust forth a Divine hand that points to the cross. Those early artists were right in their reading of this sublime event. The Transfiguration sets the cross of Christ in the centre, surrounds it with a radiant firmament of God's promises and of the prophecies of the Old Testament, and shows us the hand of God Himself, emerging from the cloud of glory, and pointing to the cross, as though God the Father would say to man what John the Baptist said, "Behold the Lamb of God," &c.

5. It has a prophetic significance. Standing on Hermon with these three apostles, a long vista stretches out before us into the distant future, including in its scope that great day when the Son of God shall take to Himself His power, His mighty power, in order to reign, His kingdom has come at last; and what is the manner of it? It is a kingdom of redeemed men — of men who stand, like Moses and Elias, with Christ in glory, not only redeemed, not only delivered from sin and suffering and sorrow and trial and pain, but transformed and transfigured with that same glory by which the person of Jesus is inwrapped.

6. It has a symbolic import. It symbolizes the transformation and transfiguration of our spirits, our whole reasonable, moral, and spiritual nature into the image of Jesus Christ our Lord.CONCLUDING LESSONS:

1. If we desire to behold the glory of the transfigured Redeemer, we must climb with Him the mount of prayer.

2. Learn from this great scene the metamorphic power of prayer. There are holy men and women, even in this our practical age, and amid the practical duties of life, whose spirits are manifestly transformed, who, already in this mortal life, are seen walking with Christ in the white robes of self-renouncing, self-forgetting love. If we ask the secret of this new transfiguration, the answer can only be, "They are men and women who breathe the atmosphere of fervent prayer.

3. Consecration to the path of suffering is the preparation for transfiguration. Oh, the mystery of suffering, the mystery of sorrow, the mystery of bereavement! Oh, the mystery of loneliness and of affliction in this world! But see, it vanishes like the morning mist, as we discover that they who tread the path of suffering are preparing for the Mount of Transfiguration.

4. Learn from this scene the true relation of the contemplative to the active life. We cannot spend our lives on the mountain-top of vision, or of ecstasy, or of contemplation. "It is good to be here," says the mystic, "beholding the vision of the glory of God." "It is good to be here," says the ascetic, "apart from the world, disciplining the soul, striving to obtain purity of heart." "It is good to be here," says the student, "revelling in the contemplation of the Divine, beholding the glory of God in history, in philosophy, in revelation." But we may not thus spend our lives. The voice of God calls us down to grapple with the problems and the duties which wait on every side. Sin is here! sorrow is here; darkness is here; unbelief is here. If God has revealed to us the glory of His Son, it is not that we should give our lives up to its contemplation, but that we should gain thereby inspiration and strength to tread the path of duty or of suffering, that we should consecrate our. selves to the work of lightening the darkness, and lessening the suffering, and cleansing the defilement, of the world in which we live.

(R. H. McKim, D. D.)

I. TRANSFIGURATION DOES NOT SEEM TO HAVE BEEN AN UNUSUAL EXPERIENCE WITH OUR LORD. He was accustomed to go apart to pray — to ascend mountains and spend whole nights in devotion. He was accustomed to meet heavenly beings there. He was accustomed to shine among them as the light. All this we know. But once He took three earthly witnesses, and permitted them to see those angels, who "strengthened Him," "comforted Him," "ministered to Him." Some, at least, of these celestial visitors were seen to be pious men who had lived and tried to do God's will on earth. One of them certainly had died, and been buried as we must be. Look upon this lantern. Its sides are unflecked crystal. No stain dims their transparency. Each ray of the Drummond light that blazes within them is perfectly transmitted. Such a light in such a body was Jesus Christ when His soul had been kindled by converse with Moses and Elias upon the theme which at His birth made heaven sing.


1. He showed them the source of His strength. Such seasons of communion with heaven are needed by His disciples. We need experiences which remind us that we are citizens of eternity — experiences which will make the events of the markets, of the graveyard, and even wars and rumours of wars, seem insignificant, except so far as they move us to consider the "sign of the Son of Man."

2. Christ strengthened His disciples to meet the trouble that was coming, by showing them what that trouble meant. The thing of which blind mortals had been ashamed is the thing in which heaven glories! Is it not plain that the three who most needed this lesson were Peter, who had protested most vehemently against the cross, and James and John the throne-seekers? Peter, who will take the sword to assault the High Priest's servant, and the sons of Zebedee, who would call down fire from heaven after the manner of Elijah before he learned to under. stand the power of Christ revealed in the still, small voice? Did not these most need to be taught that the throne of God was the cross?

3. But why did the Master forbid the three to mention the heavenly interview until after He should arise from the dead? Plainly a prominent purpose of the peculiar experience granted them was, to impress their minds with a consciousness of the sympathy of the two worlds. The scene must have made them feel that heaven and earth were adjacent mansions in their Father's house; that the door was always swinging. As their Master retired at will into celestial companionships, so might they. But this was a lesson they did not need to use while He, their Guide, their Friend, their Saviour, was with them in the world. "Hear ye Him!" was the sole direction they required then. But the time was drawing near when they would need to use the lesson learned upon the mount. That time was not when Jesus hung upon the cross, not even when His body lay in the sepulchre, but when He had risen, and they would be tempted to believe that their continued communion with Him was an illusion, an "idle tale." And most of all after the ascension would they need to realize the meanness of heaven and earth.

(W. B. Wright.)


1. The scene was a mountain. It is not fanciful to say that mountains seem to have a power of attracting to themselves the great things of men. Natural advantages may account for it in part; symbolism may account for it still more. Physical qualities present a strong claim, spiritual significance a stronger. However some may disesteem the more ethical relations of the material to the mental, we believe that men have been wise in seeking for types as well as space in the outward world, and that their religions, whether of human origin or of Divine origin, as among the Jews, have embodied a deep truth in connecting their sacred scenes and sacred services with "the ancient mountains" and everlasting "hills." When the Son of God appeared in glory, the earth assisted in his temporary enthronement, and the local accident harmonized with the spiritual import of that august event.

2. The company who witnessed it. These witnesses were enough to attest the reality of the occurrence. But why select them? Why not permit all the apostles to be thus privileged? The answer to this may not be within our knowledge. It is, however, probable that they were more intimately related to the Saviour than the rest. They had a closer fellowship; they could follow Him further; they required a higher preparation. They perhaps loved more, could bear more, and needed more. And thus, as He showed Himself to all of them more than to the world, so He showed Himself to some of them more than to the rest, admitted them to the deeper things of His spirit, and the stranger facts of His history, now permitting them to behold His "sorrowfulness unto death," and now permitting them to be "eye-witnesses of His Majesty."

3. The time it took place. A week after the conversation which Christ had with His apostles at Caesarea Philippi, when Peter declared his belief in His Messiahship, and Christ predicted His sufferings. The immediate season was night, for what took place on their descent from the mount, Luke says, was " on the next day." Hence the disciples fell asleep. The darkness of the night would add to the solemnity of the scene. And may we not say that the seasons of our greatest glory are commonly connected with gloom, and that the evil of sorrow and shame help the display of the moral lustre of the soul? But the circumstance to which I would especially call attention is that Christ was "praying." The obvious lesson to be drawn from our Lord's conduct on this and other occasions is, that not only should we always indulge the spirit of prayer, but that we should enter into the greatest events and experiences with peculiar devotion; that special temptations, special duties, special sufferings, and special good, all call for special wrestling with God; that instruction and strength, fortitude and honour, are to be sought from heaven; that only in prayer can we meet our enemy, only in prayer can we fulfil our vocation, only in prayer can we drink the cup of love, and only in prayer can we gain "the Spirit of glory and of God."


1. It had immediate reference to the circumstances of Christ and His disciples. Jesus was now entering upon the last and most sorrowful portion of His career. He was probably within a fortnight of His death. It was not the dying, but the attendant circumstances that made the future so distressing to the mind of Jesus. In another sense than that of the disciples, "He feared as He entered the cloud." He was chastened and oppressed by the anticipation of His peculiar woe. And, doubtless, " He received from God the Father honour and glory," on the occasion before us to strengthen Him for the coming conflict. But if the Transfiguration was meant for Christ, it was also meant for the disciples. It was intended to reward and establish the conviction of His Messiahship, which they had lately expressed. It was intended to extend and exalt their conceptions of His character and work.

2. The Transfiguration has a meaning to ourselves, as a type of the redeeming majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ.(1) Christ is glorified. He is personally transfigured in heaven. He is "changed," and His body is a "glorious " one, the beauteous type of the restored bodies of all who "die in" Him. This body exists in light. Ineffable brightness invests it. Far different is it from what is below — the seat of infirmities, and pains, and death. Far different is its state from its state below — one of want, exposure, injury, and shame.(2) The glory of Christ is the glory of One who is appointed the Lord and Lawgiver of man. He is to be "heard."(3) It is the glory of One who passed to honour through suffering and death. Most notable is it that the theme of conversation with the glorified messengers was His decease.(4) It is the glory of One whom both worlds obey and honour.(5) It is the glory of One in whom all history finds its meaning and its honour.

(A: J. Morris.)


1. The time. Luke says, " about an eight days," Matthew and Mark, "after six days." The reconciliation is easy. Matthew and Mark spoke of the space of time between the day of prediction and the day of Transfiguration exclusively; Luke includes them both.

2. The persons chosen to attend Him in this action.(1) Why three? (Deuteronomy 17:6.) And as John speaks (1 John 5:7, 8) of three witnesses in heaven and three on earth, so here are three and three, three from heaven — God the Father, Moses, "and Elias; and three from earth — Peter, James, and John.(2) Why those three? Many give divers reasons. Peter had led the way to the rest in that notable confession of Christ (Matthew 16:16), and is conceived to have some primacy for the orderly beginning of actions in the college of the apostles. James was the first apostle who shed his blood for Christ (Acts 12:2), and John was the most long-lived of them all, and so could the longer give testimony of those things which he heard and saw, till the Church was well gathered and settled.

3. The place. A high mountain.

(1)For elevation.

(2)For secrecy.

4. The preparative action. Prayer.


1. Its nature. It was a glorious alteration in the appearance and qualities of His body; not a substantial alteration in the substance of it. It was not a change wrought in the essential form and substance of Christ's body, but only the outward form was changed, being more full of glory and majesty than it used to be or appeared to be.(1) How His body, now transfigured, differed from His body at other times during His conversing with men. Though the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in Him always, yet the state of His body was disposed so as might best serve for the decency of human conversation; as the sun in a rainy, cloudy day iS not seen, but now as it might cover His Divine nature, it would break out in vigour and strength.(a) It was not a change or alteration of the substance of the body, as if it were turned into a spiritual substance; no, it remained still a true human mortal body with the same nature and properties it had before, only it became bright and glorious.(b) As the substance of the body was not changed, so the natural shape and features were not changed, otherwise how could it be known to be Christ, the shape and features were the same, only a new and wonderful splendour put upon them.(c) This new and wonderful splendour was not in imagination and appearance only, but real and sensible.(2) How His body transfigured differed from His glorified body.(a) Partly in the degree and measure, the clarity and majesty of Christ's glorified body is greater and more perfect. Here is a representation, some delineation, but not a full exhibition of His heavenly glory.(b) Partly in continuance and permanency this change was not perpetual, but to endure for a short time only, for it ceased before they came down from the Mount.(c) The subject or seat of this glory differed, the body of Christ being then corruptible and mortal, but now incorruptible and immortal. If Christ's body had been immortal and impassible, then Christ could not die.(d) Here are garments, and a glorified body shall have no other garments than the robes of immortality and glory in heaven. Christ shall be clothed with light as with a garment.

2. Its objects.(1) To show what Christ was. The dignity of His Person and office.(2) To show what Christ should be; for this was a pledge with what glory He should come in His Kingdom (Matthew 16:27); it prefigured the glory of His second coming.(3) To show what we shall be; for Christ is the pattern.Uses:

1. Be transformed, that you may be transfigured (Romans 12:2). The change must begin in the soul.

2. Be contented to be like Christ in reproaches, disgraces, and neglect in the world, that you may be like Him in glory. Your Lord is a glorious Lord, and He can put glory upon you.

3. To wean our hearts from all human and earthly glory; what is a glorious house to the palace of heaven; glorious garments to the robes of immortality? The glory of Christ should put out the glory of these petty stars that shine in the world, as the sun puts out the fire. We have higher things to mind; it is not for eagles to catch flies, or princes to embrace the dunghill.

4. Since this glory is for the body, do not debase the body, to make it an instrument of sin (1 Thessalonians 4:4). "Possess your vessels in sanctification and honour," do not offend God to gratify the body, as they do (Romans 14:13) who make provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof. Do not spare the body to do God service (Acts 26:7).

(T. Manton, D. D.)And it would be good for us also to be on the mount, for we, too, need to see Jesus transfigured. Some would say, if they were honest, that while they have a certain admiration for Christ, they see nothing transcendent in Him. To them, He is only one among the great — one among great peaks, not the greatest peak of all. They are not on the height where He is to be seen. They must ascend the mount of knowledge and faith, where alone His glory is to be seen. Have we seen this glory of Christ? Some say, "These 'visions' are a questionable good; they lead people into saying foolish things." But notice, it was only Peter who spoke, John and James were silent; Peter would not have spoken so if he had taken time to think, but Peter was always impetuous. What, then, was the good to the disciples? It struck down their prejudices. It silenced all objections to the death of Christ. The Church has come during the last fifty years to enjoy a vision of the Transfiguration of Christ — that is, to see more than in previous centuries the glory of His character and of His death. Christ is more prominent, more precious to the Church than ever before. It has consequently been delivered from many prejudices, and has been prepared for the great trial of anti-christian criticism. It is good for us to be here in this generation. But if this be true of the Church at large, let it be true also of our Own individual lives; you have difficulties about His death. Could you but see His glory these difficulties would vanish away. Or you have trials of various kinds — they will seem insignificant on the Mount of Transfiguration. But how shall we get on to the mount? how obtain these glorious views of Christ? Be guided by the circumstances before us. It comes

(1)by abiding with Christ;

(2)by free communion with Christ;

(3)by increasing devotion to Christ.The excellence of a great picture or book or character does not always appear at first. So we must have some good knowledge of Christ, some acquaintance with Him. Let there be an earnest study of these Gospels. Be not impatient. See how freely these three talked with Christ, There must not only be thought about Christ, but free talk with Him.

(T. Goodrich.)

I. THE FINAL CAUSE: why Christ was transfigured.

1. The Redeemer of souls lived in great humility upon earth, nay, like an abject worm, to attract the love of the Church; now He changed Himself into this admired excellency, to increase their faith.

2. By this apparition the three disciples saw in what form He would come to judgment.

3. He did represent Himself as the argument and idea of that beautiful reward which the bodies of the just shall have in the general resurrection.

4. For this once Christ looked like a person of Divine authority, that the minds of His disciples might not be cast down with despair at the cross.

5. The fifth and last reason hath a moral use. There is an old man with his corruptions to be metamorphosed in us all, sieur Pelias recoctus, as the fable goes, that Medusa bathed the body of Pelias with certain magical drugs, and from a decrepit old man transmuted him into a vigorous youth. This is a figment; for no man spent his young years so well, to deserve at God's hands in this world to be young again: but there is a renovation in the spirit of our mind. God will not know us in our own form and filthiness, unless we put on the image of Christ. As Jacob obtained his father's blessing, not in his own shape, but in the garments of Esau; so we must sue our blessing, having put on the righteousness of Christ; then the Lord will receive His servant, and say unto thee, as Jacob did unto Esau, "I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God."

II. THE EFFICIENT CAUSE: from whence this splendour was derived. Many obscure points will come to light by asking this question: Whether this lightsome beauty like the sun did appear in our Saviour's face from the beatification of His human soul, or from the union of His Divine nature? First, you must understand, that the great school-man, Aquinas, took the best end of the cause into his hand, when he answered to neither of those two members, but rather to the purpose of the question in this wise, fuit haze qualitas gloria, sed non corporis gloriosi, quia nondum erat immortalis. "This Transfiguration was a quality of glory, but not of a glorified body, because He was not yet passed death, and raised up to be immortal and impassible." In this distinction is covertly included, that it was not such a brightness as the soul shall communicate to the body, when it is reunited in a joyful resurrection, hut was created at this time by the Divine power, to foretell and shadow what would come to pass with much increase in the kingdom of God. Praelibatio regni Dei fuit haec transfiguratio, says : this was but the landskip or pattern of the true happiness which shall be in the kingdom of heaven.

III. THE EFFECT ITSELF. Alteration in His countenance: whiteness and glistering in His raiment. It is a good thing to be safe under His mercy, the cheerful aspect of His face doth promise that at the least. And doth not this glistering transmutation assure us likewise, that His grace shall shine in our hearts to produce the fruits of life: "The life is the light of men," says St. John; and by inversion it is true to say, that this light is the life of the soul. Though this which I have said already be much, yet this prospective of admirable light leads us further; for in this transformation the Master did show what liveries of glory the servants should wear when they should dwell with Him in His kingdom for ever. All the light which is in this world is but like a glowworm to the day, in respect of that mirror of marvellous light m the heavenly Jerusalem, where millions of millions of saints shall be gathered together, and every saint shall shine more sweetly and majestically than the whole globe of the sun; what a ravishing object will this be? What an unutterable concurrence of illumination, especially when the sense of the eye shall be perfecter than the eagle's a thousandfold, and no whir dazzled to behold it? "O Lord, what good things hast Thou laid up for them that fear Thee?" And thus you see what the Transfiguration in our Saviour's countenance did portend — light of grace in this world; light of glory in the next; and light of mercy and comfort in respect unto them both. I conceive that in the resurrection of the just every countenance which had disfigurement in it, or any monstrous disproportion, shall be new shaped and fashioned. Because that great workmanship of God which abideth for ever shall be conspicuous to all eyes with most exact decency and comeliness. One thing more may yet be expected from me to be spoken of for the finishing of this point. St. Luke says, that "His countenance was altered, and His raiment glistered." Was that all? Was His face only glorified with light, and not the rest of His body? There are some that hold how His whole body was transfigured and bedecked with light, and that the radiancy of the body did shine through the garments and make them brightsome; and they think that St. Matthew's text doth favour this opinion, for he speaks of a total transfiguration first, and then of the shining of the face — "He was transfigured before them, and His face did shine as the sun." The matter is not great which way the truth stands. But I assent to that which is the more probable tenent, that the rays of splendour did issue out from no part of His body, but from His face only. As the face of Christ did bear the greatest share of ignominy at His passion-being buffeted, being spit on, being pricked with thorns — so the honour of His Transfiguration did light upon his face rather than upon any other part of the body, because God's reward shall make amends in every kind for the despite of Satan. The Jews did strip Him of His garment, and arrayed Him with a robe of scorn, and then led Him to be crucified: so God, to show that His Son deserved no such ignominy, made His garments to shine with unspeakable purity. As lapidaries say of a true diamond, that whereas other precious stones have some colour in their superficies well known by name, as the ruby and sapphire, but the colour of the diamond cannot be well called by any name, there is a white gloss and a sparkling flame mixed together, which shine fairly, but render no constant colour, so we cannot say what manner of show the raiment of our Saviour did make. These two did concur to the composition of the beauty, candour, and lux; a whiteness mixed with no shadow, a light bedimmed with no darkness.

(Bishop Hacker.)

1. An illustration of the personal character of Jesus, and the connection which exists between eminent devotion and Divine manifestation.

2. The Divine dignity of the Son of God.

3. The susceptibility and the need of Jesus as Son of Man.

4. The importance of Christ's redemptive work. Of all subjects that they might have chosen, the heavenly visitants talk with Him about His coming death.

5. Christ's supremacy and authority. "Hear Him."

6. From the whole incident we may learn —

(1)The weakness and poverty of humanity.

(2)What a grand and glorious thing it may become.

(T. Binney.)

1. This event gives us an insight into the unseen world.

2. An assurance of Christ's Divine personality.

3. The subject of converse was the Atonement.

4. It is quite in accordance with man's imperfect condition at present, that Peter's rapture so soon came to a close.

5. The Transfiguration suggests to us the nature of our own condition hereafter.

(F. Jacox.)

Where did the Transfiguration take place? An old tradition tells us on Mount Tabor; but though I am always reluctant to refuse assent to these traditions if I can find reason to believe them, yet no traditions are of apostolic authority, and I cannot believe that which assigns the Transfiguration to Mount Tabor. We know that the preceding conversation took place at Csesarea Philippi. Now this is far off from Mount Tabor, but near to that city is a mount which may be called the mount of the Holy Land, the snow-clad mount of Hermon. And what place so fitting for a retreat as that? We have no hint in the Bible of any long journey taken from Caesarea Philippi to Mount Tabor of the tradition, while the solitude which our Lord would naturally seek would not be found there, for Mount Tabor was fortified by stations and garrisons of Roman soldiery. Then, again, the whole setting of the story, according to the imagery of St. Luke, seems to imply that the incident took place on some snow-clad height. Tabor is not snow-clad, but all the year through the heights of Hermon are clad with snow. There is no doubt, then, to me, that one of the lower slopes of Hermon was the scene of the Transfiguration of our Lord.

(Canon Body.)

There can be little doubt that Mount Hermon (Jebel es Sheikh) is intended, in spite of the persistent, but perfectly baseless tradition which points to Tabor. For(1) Mount Hermon is easily within six days' reach of Ceesarea Philippi, and(2) could alone be called a "lofty mountain" (being 10,000 feet high), or "the mountain," when the last scene had been at Caesarea. Further(3), Tabor, at that time, in all probability was (Jos. B. J. 1:8, § 7, Vit. 37), as from time immemorial it had been (Joshua 19:12), an inhabited and fortified place, wholly unsuited for a scene so solemn; and(4) was moreover in Galilee, which is excluded by Mark 9:30. "The mountain' is indeed the meaning of the name "Hermon," which being already consecrated by Hebrew poetry (Psalm 133:3), and under its old names of Sion and Sirion, or "breastplate" (Deuteronomy 4:48; Deuteronomy 3:9; Song of Solomon 4:8), was well suited for the Transfiguration by its height, seclusion, and snowy splendour.

(Archdeacon Farrar.)

The tradition which has pointed to Tabor has been often contradicted, yet the objections raised against this are, according to our opinion, not well founded. That this tradition existed even in the time of , and that the Empress for this reason erected a church on Tabor, proves of itself not much, it is true. Yet it may still be called remark. able, that tradition designates a place so far distant from Caesarea Philippi, where our Saviour had just before been found (Matthew 16:13). Without sufficient ground in the apostolic tradition, it appears probable that they would not have assumed the theatre of the one event to be so far removed from that of the other. For the other mountains which have been thought of instead of Tabor, viz., Hermon, or Paneas, there is almost less yet to be said. Yet it must not be forgotten that about a week intervened between the Transfiguration and the first prediction of the Passion, in which time the Saviour may very well have traversed the distance from Caesarea to Tabor, which, it is true, is considerable. If the Saviour, moreover, after He left the mountain, returned to Capernaum (Matthew 17:24-27), this town was scarcely a day's journey from Tabor. The single important difficulty is that raised by De Wette, following Robinson, that at this time there was a fortification on the summit of Tabor. But although Antiochus the Great fortified the mountain, , it is not by any means proved that in the time of Jesus this fortification was yet standing, and though, according to Josephus, this mountain, in the Jewish war, was fortified against the Romans, this, at all events, took place forty years later. Traces of these fortifications are found apparently in the ruins which have since been discovered, especially on the south-western declivity; but in no case is it proved that the whole mountain was built over in the time of Jesus.

(Van Oosterzee.)

A valley is as capable of God's glory as a mountain, for "God is God of the valleys as well as of the hills," whatsoever Benhadad, the king of Syria, said to the contrary; but Christ chose this high hill as well for the exercise of prayer, as for the mystery of His Transformation. There may seem to be two intentions that He desired such a place for prayer, quia coeli conspectus liberior, quia solitude major: First, upon the higher ground there is the more free contemplation of heaven, the place to which we lift up our eyes and our hearts in prayer; for though our Lord is everywhere, both in heaven and earth, and under the earth, yet thither we advance our devotions as to the chief throne of His Majesty. Next, our Saviour left a concourse of people beneath, and went to the mountain to pour out His devotions there as in a solitary sequestration, where he should not be troubled. Into such unfrequented hills He did often retire alone, as if He would teach us to bid all the world adieu, and all earthly thoughts, when we utter our supplications before our Heavenly Father: neither doth it seem expedient to act the miracle of the Transfiguration upon a meaner theatre than an exceeding high mountain, to show what ascensions must be in their soul who have a desire to be exalted to God's glory.

(Bishop Hacket.)

Our heart, according to its own evil inclination, cleaves unto the dust like a serpent, our thoughts are of low stature, like Zachaeus; if they will climb up, let it be for no other end, or errand, but, as he did, to see Christ. There are two mountains, says Bernard, which we must ascend, but not both at once. First, there is the mountain where the Son of God did preach (Matthew 5.), and after that go up to the mountain where He was Transfigured (Matthew 17.). Non solum meditemur inpraemiis, sed etiam in mandatis Domini: I beseech you first meditate upon the sayings and commandments of God, and afterward upon His Transfiguration, upon the reward of glory: and not, as it is the vain custom of the world, run on presumptuously upon assurance of glorification, and to forget the true order, first to ascend upon the mountain of obedience.

(Bishop Hacket.)

As Jesus prayed there on the mount, "the fashion of his countenance was altered." And so we may say that, as man prays — or, in other words, as in any posture man comes in contact with the great realities of religion and of the soul, and expresses his relation to these — the fashion of his countenance alters, the look of humanity is transfigured. I affirm that there is no mode of action, no posture of being, so grand, so hopeful, so pregnant with suggestion, as that of man praying — one in whom culminates the fullest expression of Christian belief and service. It is a transfiguring look, which lifts him above all sin and frailty and dust and shadow, and exhibits him as a child of God and an heir of immortality. Higher than any mere intellectual achievement is this uplifting and surrender of the soul. Newton grasping the firmament in his thought is not so sublime a spectacle as Newton when he kneels and adores. And as with individual instances, so with the collective humanity. Its supreme expression is in the act of faith and worship. Wherever to-day humanity heaves with the great ground-swell of religion, and all outward distinctions dissolve in the light of spiritual relations — I say that there this humanity is transfigured; it is lifted above its sins and miseries and frailty, and all that gives occasion for sceptical distrust. For as man prays — as his nature assumes its highest expression — the shadows of his mortality disappear, and the fashion of his countenance is altered. Even at the risk of some repetition, let me specify that which has now been generally suggested.

I. I observe, then, in the first place, that the very attitude of religious faith contradicts sceptical theories of human nature. In trying to estimate the worth and the purpose of any being, it seems reasonable that we should adopt for our standard the highest manifestations of that being. As an illustration of my meaning, I remark that we estimate any individual man, not by what he may be doing at any specified time, not by the weakness or failure of some particular occasion, but by what he has done in his highest moods, what he is capable of doing at his best. We do not expect that Demosthenes will always give us an "Oration for the Crown," that Shakespeare will always write a "Hamlet," or Tennyson an "In Memoriam." But surely it is by these productions, and not their poorest, that we rate such men. We measure their calibre by their broadest circle of achievement, and stamp the recognition of genius upon that which they have done, and can do, in the full swell of their powers. Now apply this illustration to classes of being. There are fools and knaves and tyrants and sensualists; there are such as Caligula and Benedict Arnold and George IV.: but here, also, are Pauls and Fenelons and Florence Nightingales; here are men and women writing a Christian martyrology in letters of blood and fire on the walls of amphitheatres; here are Latimers and Ridleys holding unblenching hands in the flame; here are Pilgrims clasping Bibles to their breasts as they sail over stormy seas. Nay, let us get away from these scenic instances of history, here, right around you, are poor widows in bare garrets, kneel. ing, with God-seeing eyes; here are oppressed and suffering men clinging to their simple belief in an infinite Helper, and feeling the consolation of Jesus breathing upon their sorrow; here are poor brethren of ours, pressed by grievous temptations, lifting up their souls to Him who can make them strong in their moral conflict, and with swift strokes of supplication cleaving down help from the Almighty. Here is a man called to lie down and die, leaving a sick wife, leaving little helpless children; feeling the mortal terror creeping inward to his heart, as the mortal agony creeps over his flesh; but still looking up to the Father, laying hold of immortality, and in that one touch of faith making the coarse sheet that soon is to be his shroud more glorious with heaven's light than the hearse of Napoleon, rumbling through the streets of Paris and blossoming with a hundred victories. In such, in a thousand ways, here is the spectacle of man praying — man summoning faith and devotion, and taking hold of unconquerable strength, lifted into unfading light; and, I ask, what do you make of this? I maintain that thus estimating humanity by its highest, not by its lowest attitudes, this weak, sinning, dying creature refutes all sceptical conclusions, and the fashion of its countenance is altered.

II. I proceed to observe, in the next place, that in this expression of our nature we find a refutation of any extreme claim of action as opposed to worship, and also of science as setting itself in the place of religion. Action cannot occupy the place of prayer. As the very motive power of our action, we need the inspiration and the vision which are revealed to faith. Nor can science be substituted for religion. The soul of man requires a light that we cannot find through the telescope, or at the end of the galvanic wire. It cannot rest or be satisfied with the mere discernment of natural laws. It cannot steer through the mystery of life with no other chart than the physical constitution of man. It needs a heavenly Father and a redeeming Christ. Christ the revealer, Christ the glorified, Christ the transfigured, represents something without ourselves and above ourselves. He presents a point of reconciliation between the human and the Divine, that no one else — no Plato, no Socrates, no oracle of scientific truth, no modern type of philanthropy — can give. In the light which streams upon us from the personality of Jesus the fashion of man's countenance is altered.

III. In closing, let me say that the fact which we have been considering, not only refutes false theoretical, but unworthy practical conclusions. Construct, in theory, a universe that will justify profaneness or licentiousness, meanness and fraud, lack of principle and lack of love. How awful the system of things in which such lives would be logical conclusions! A universe in which there are no foundations of "eternal and immutable morality," no source for Divine light like that which shone upon Jesus and from Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration! But if we are children of God and heirs of immortality, what then should be the scope and standard of our lives? Oh, my brethren! if there is a world from which a supernatural splendour fell upon the face of the praying Jesus — if there was such a Jesus, revealing such things to men — if these things are real — it is not merely, the fashion of man's countenance that alters, but the entire fashion of human life! Then, not those things concerning which men think and act as though they really made up the substance of our being, but those we seek for and cling to in solemn moments, in our best hours and in our last — these are the supreme, the eternal fashion, all else being uncertain and perishable.

(E. H. Chapin, D. D.)

1. One use of this scene was to give to the favoured disciples a clearer idea of the nature of Christ's kingdom.

2. Another use of this scene was to disclose more than had yet been seen of Christ's personal majesty and true glory.

3. We may note a third use of the Transfiguration in the confirmation it afforded to the harmony of Christ's teaching with that of Moses and the prophets.

4. The Transfiguration scene was of use in helping to show the place, in heavenly as well as earthly interest, of the death of Christ.

5. A fifth and very important use of the Transfiguration was in the glimpse it afforded of the heavenly world.

6. The one other use of this wonderful scene to be noticed, is the lesson of patience it teaches, with respect to our earthly temptations, conflicts, and work.

(H. M. Grout, D. D.)

O the wise God, that would have the glory of transfiguration fall upon Himself at no other time but in the fervour of prayer. Miserable men are those that desire not to be transfigured and to cast off the old man; but more miserable that think to be transfigured without continual prayer. An hypocrite would seem to be a transformed man; Satan would appear to have transformed himself into an angel of light; hypocrites and devils all love to make a show of transfiguration, but they did never pray to God to change their inside, which is nothing but filthiness, and to be renewed in the spirit of their mind; hold on, and cease not to pray, till you be changed into new men. As a distiller keeps his extractions at the furnace till he see them flower and colour as he could wish; so, as long as we feel the relics of the old Adam remaining, especially while we feel them reign and get the dominion over us, we must ply our Saviour day and night with a restless devotion and a flagrant importunity; and I am sure while we pray, not the fashion of our countenance, but the fashion of our heart shall be altered. Well, I pray you remember, that when our Saviour went up into the mountain, as well to be transfigured as to pray, yet the text names this only, that "He went up into the mountain to pray"; that name stands in chief, and drowns the mention of the other business, as if prayer were a greater work than that resplendent Transfiguration. And what needed He to pray, but to bring us upon our knees humbly and frequently before His Father, and our Father.

(Bishop Hacker.)

And what was that glory? What made His face shine? What was the light which enveloped His form? We know that it was the glory of God, a glory not from without but from within, a light shining from the essential beauty of the Godhead within, not flashed from without. The Transfiguration, then, was not a miracle, but a witness of the abiding presence of Christ's Divinity: His whole Being shone, and like Moses, when gazing day and night upon the image of God till it became, in a measure, stamped upon him, and the "skin of his face shone," what did He do? Moses, we are told, put a veil over his face to hide it from the people of Israel, and so it was with Christ: He veiled His glory. If He had been outwardly true to what He bore within Him He would have been seen always with His glory unveiled; it would have been about Him in the manger at Bethlehem — transfigured Babe! in His home at Nazareth — transfigured Boy! it would have shone about Him during His ministry in Galilee — transfigured Man! and, at the last, on Calvary's Cross — transfigured Sufferer! But under the very conditions of coming as man among men, the Godhead within was veiled, and the outcoming of those rays held back which would have made for ever beautiful the Sun of Righteousness. For a moment there is no restraint, for a moment He knows the beauty of repose as in His solitude He holds communion with His Father, and all the beauty from within shines forth, and He is transfigured. The beauty of Jesus Christ! not an outward beauty, such as appeals to the physical part of man. "When we see Him there is no beauty that we should desire Him." He does not stand out as an Apollo of the Greeks or as a Samson of the Bible stories. "As the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my Beloved." As the apple-tree, you notice, not as the cedar; yet if there is no physical beauty, there is a beauty of His own in every feature, every action, every part, for the transfiguration beauty was the beauty of God. God had communicated His beauty to His Son, for "in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" — the perfect beauty of an intellect which is permeated with light, of a heart which is filled with love, of a will lifted up wholly to the will of God, of conscience at perfect peace, of an imagination sanctified by the most perfect imagery. For the fact remains, which is so true of Him, and, in a great measure, of our fellow-creatures, that the spirit moulds the countenance. There is such a thing as a saint-like countenance, wherefore where there is the indwelling of the Divine there is a beauty of face and figure, movement, speech, and tone, which nothing else can give.

(Canon Body.)

The evangelists, in their record of the Transfiguration scene, seem to concentrate the attention of Christian people on the irradiated garments in which our Lord's sacred form was enveloped. Indeed, the description of the irradiation of the garments of Christ is certainly fuller than the description of His transfigured humanity. St. Matthew tells us that "His raiment was white as light"; St. Mark, that "His raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow, so as no fuller on earth can white them"; and St. Luke, as our text reminds us, that "His raiment was white and glistering." Therefore, in studying the history of the mystery of the Transfiguration our duty is carefully to notice this feature, and to seek to learn the lesson that the glorified beauty of the raiment of Christ teaches us. The scene of the Transfiguration is one which each of us can easily paint for ourselves by an effort of the imagination. Jesus Christ was, no doubt, poorly clad, probably in the garb that a mechanic" was wont to wear in those days. His clothing was not the clothing of "soft raiment," for "they that wear soft raiment are in kings' houses"; not in the palace of a king among a favoured few dwelt the Incarnate Son of God, but in a cottage where His lot was cast among the toiling many; and there He dwelt for thirty years, clothed surely in raiment of the most homely nature, probably made by His mother's own hands, and woven from the wool of the flocks. And if the raiment of our Lord had no beauty of form or material to make it lovely, so, too, it must have borne signs of wear, the stains and marks of daily toil. Thus clothed, then, our Lord passed to the Mount of Transfiguration; and, whilst He prayed" He was transfigured before them." The light of the essential Godhead within broke forth, and, lo! as its rays shone through the veil of His humanity, it pierced the poor garments in which He was clothed, which, though worn and stained, now became white with a supernatural whiteness, and, though lacking beauty, now became beautiful with a supernatural beauty. Sweet vision of irradiated garments! what an abiding spiritual meaning it shows forth! St. , in a notice which occurs in his "Commentary on the Psalms," says "The raiment wherewith Christ was clad is His Church." Sweet, sacred vision of a transfigured Lord associated with an irradiated Church; showing forth the abiding relationship of Christ with His Church through endless ages of glorified eternity, and His closest union with this Church, which He has put on as a mystic garment shining with the glory of His own mystic beauty. In this glorified raiment of Christ we see shadowed forth His Church under all conditions of time and of eternity. The Church exists, and is eternally predestinated in the fulness of time to be the glorified vesture of her Lord; the Church, which is God's elect, admitted by baptism and by the cleansing waters of the holy font brought into this election, this ecclesia of God. Is not the Church in her making like the garments of our Lord? Mary takes of the wool of the flock, and therewith weaves the raiment which He puts on in all its meanness and poorness, and then glorifies. Just so with the Church. In what is she poor, do you say? Surely her poverty is in the men and women within her who are lacking in purity and in beauty; but our Lord stretches out His hand and brings them into union with Himself; not a hypostatical union, such as the union of the Divine and human natures in Himself, but a sacramental union, which can be severed, like the putting on of the garments with which He was clad. Then, having as it were put them on to lie on His Sacred Heart, He works in them the work of justification, taking from them the soil of guilt, and by the work of renewal ever removing from them all spots and wrinkles, till passing from glory to glory, and going from beauty to beauty, the just become more and more pure in the sight of God. He gives them not only purity but beauty; Christ acts on the pure and makes them lovely; He communicates to them His own Divine beauty, till in time the Church on earth becomes "white and glistering" with the glory He imparts. And what is the glorification of the Church? What is the consummation of sanctification? What is the end of justification? Is not the goal to be absolutely beautiful? is it not that when we awake we may find that we are beautiful even in the sight of God? Yes, in the glorified raiment of Christ we see a pledge of His work in His Church, a pledge which in her perfect day shall be accomplished, yet for its accomplishment it is necessary that her members co-operate with Him in a three-fold way. The members of Christ's Church must be channels of Divine grace. Men and women touching the garments of Christ were made whole; as, for instance, that poor woman who had suffered for many years from a sad disease, and who stretched forth her hand in the crowd, saying within herself, "If I may but touch His garment I shall be whole"; but Christ said not, "Who touched my raiment?" but "Who touched Me?" (as St. Luke tells us), for His raiment had been but the means of conveying His own healing power: and in the same way Christ has made His Church the instrument through which He distributes truth, and grace, and peace; and if her members would reach forth to her essential glory in eternity they must reach forward to her Divine mission in time, and become, like His garments, channels of His grace to those around. Is it not so? Have you thought that those same garments were probably on the hill of Calvary? But where do we see them then? No longer clothing that sacred form, but thrown at the foot of the cross, given over to the Roman soldiery, His very vesture the prize of a gambling game which they were playing just beneath Him. As with the raiment of Christ so must it be with His Church. The Church can only pass to her Divine glory under the same conditions by which Christ passed to His; the Church must not only imitate Him in His active ministry, but share His sufferings: she, too, must go to her Gethsemane, and pass along her way of sorrow, and hang down upon her cross of shame, and pain, and humiliation; and only as she patiently perseveres in walking on the road of the Cross can she hope to reach to the glory awaiting her above. There is only one ladder from earth to heaven, that is the ladder of our Saviour's Cross. And it is necessary for us always to keep this vision of the transfigured raiment of Christ before our minds; for this reason, that we never look at any creation of God aright unless we keep in sight the ideal of that creation as it is in the mind of God, otherwise we form a wrong conception of it. God's ideal cannot be realized here and now. If we look at the world in its present conditions only, should we not find it hard to justify the dealings of God with men? But these conditions are only accidental; sin came into the world, and with it poverty, crime, pain, death. God has mysteriously permitted a temporary marring of His creation, but that which mars it does not come from God, therefore it cannot last. We Christians are saved from being pessimists because we know that the present conditions are not final. There is a time, at the coming of our Lord, when error will be banished by truth, iniquity by righteousness; when universal knowledge mill cover the face of society; when peace shall be the only condition of mind among God's people. Look with eyes brightened by faith, then, even though we see antichrist developed, yet our hope shall be bright, aye, brighter than before, for the development of antichrist is the very pledge of the coming of Christ. And so, too, with the Ideal of man; none have ever realized, even if they have grasped, their own ideal; and certainly no one can ever have grasped their ideal as it is in the mind of the Creator, far less have carried that out. What is this ideal? is it not conformity to the perfection of God Himself? "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Yet we know by experience that, here and now, we cannot conform to this perfection; and so the Church, here and now, fails to realize her ideal: to-day she is of the earth earthy, as poor, and stained, and marred as the garments of Jesus before they were transfigured by His imparted glory. Often perplexities meet us when we try to reconcile the actual condition of the Church with the ideal. But on the Mount of Transfiguration we see this — that in His own time and way Christ will realize the ideal of His Church. Till then let us live in faith and hope, refusing to let our faith be staggered by the Church's troubles in time, but giving ourselves up to His service, lying, as His sacred garments did, at the foot of His cross, in sure and confident expectation that He will realize His own ideal, and that in eternity we shall see Jerusalem the Golden, shining with the glory of God and of the Lamb, and the Church, as His vesture, lying on His bosom in closest union with her Lord!

(Canon Body.)

To every one of us, first or last, come these luminous hours. But they are transient. As the Transfiguration on the Mount was designed to teach the disciples how to conduct themselves when the exigencies which were to come upon them should be developed, so these luminous hours which come to all men ought to be used by them to determine their duties and courses. It is when you are on the mountain-top that you should take your land-marks and steer toward them, and when you go down and lose sight of them, keep straight across the valley until you rise so that they greet your vision again. Not when you are in the valley can you tell which way to travel, unless you have learned it on the top of the hill. Another thing. After all the beauty and sublimity of this wonderful miracle wrought upon the person of Jesus Christ, and after all the instruction connected with it, it still comes back to me, in the light of the apostle's joyful yet sad utterance, "Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face." We are all of us ignorant; we know in part; but the time is drawing near when neither upon this mountain, nor at Jerusalem, nor upon Mount Hermon, nor upon any earth summit, shall we need to receive instruction, or have any luminous hours, or pass through this or that experience; but when we shall stand in Zion, and before God, and shall see Him as He is, and shall be like Him, and shall rejoice with Him for ever and for ever.

(H. W. Beecher.)

This remarkable story divides into two parts the ministerial life of Christ. It is the central point of His public career. It is connected, in thought, with His baptism by the voice from heaven. It is connected with His death by the conversation with Moses and Elias. We must not forget the appropriateness of the comparison of the whiteness of Christ's garments to snow, for above the apostles' heads was the dazzling snow which illuminates the peak of Hermon. Observe —

I. CHRIST'S LOVE FOR MOUNTAIN-SOLITUDES. This is only one instance out of many, and it brings before us the sensitive humanity of Christ. Christ loved nature. All the world to Him was sacramental. It should be so with us. Celestial messages and grace should flow to us through every sight and sound which touches and exalts the heart.

II. THE TRANSFIGURING GLORY. It supplies us with a principle. The outward form takes its glory or its baseness from the inner spirit.

III. THE VISION. Moses and Elias represent the law and the prophets, and Christ is the end of them both. All the revelation given in the past culminated in the revelation which He gave. The glory of the law and of the prophets was fulfilled and expanded in His perfect glory. The whole of the Old Testament, so far as it was spiritual, was taken up into the New. The unity of the Old Testament with the New was declared, and the superiority of the New Testament over the Old.

IV. The apostles not only saw a vision, but they heard A CONVERSATION. Strangely in the midst of radiant glory, of ecstatic joy, intervened the thought of death and sorrow. Learn that eternal life is giving, that eternal joy is the sacrifice of self; that the human is only then transfigured into the Divine life when the pain of sacrifice is felt as the most passionate ecstasy. That is the transfiguration power. That thought transfigures the world of humanity. It is the life of heaven with God.

(Stopford A, Brooke, M. A.)


1. The prayers of Christ.

2. The witnesses of the Transfiguration.

3. The manner of the Transfiguration.

4. The appearance of Moses and Elias.

5. The subject of their conversation with Jesus.


1. TO accredit the Divine mission of our Lord.

2. To connect the different dispensations of revealed truth together, to give an authorised sanction to Old Testament announcements, to affix the signet of heaven to all the ancient types and prophecies, and to show that Christ was the glory, the substance, the terminating object of them all.

3. To afford a practical demonstration of man's immortality.

4. To asssure us that in the life of the world to come we shall know each other.

(D. Moore, M. A.)

Communion with God is a condition of spiritual elevation.


1. They presuppose a somewhat advanced condition of the spiritual life.

2. They are fraught with the richest, keenest bliss.

3. They are given not merely for their own sake, but as means to important and practical ends.

II. WHAT IS THE RELATION WHICH PRAYER SUSTAINS TO THESE ELEVATIONS? The evangelist evidently wishes us to understand that there was a connection between the Saviour's praying and His being transfigured, that in some way the one was the consequence and the out. come of the other.

1. Prayer draws us away from the presence of distracting objects.

2. Prayer relieves us from the pressure of worldly toil.

3. Prayer calls out the finer, better feelings of our nature.

4. Prayer opens to us all the treasures of God's own being.


1. It is not necessary for our prayers to be consciously and intentionally directed towards this particular end.

2. Let us be thankful that such elevations are possible to us.

3. Let us show our thankfulness by putting ourselves constantly in that prayerful attitude which is the one chief condition of spiritual exaltation.

(B. Wilkinson, F. G. S.)

-Christ ever seemed to live in view of the two worlds, even as He belonged to both. The Transfiguration, viewed as an example of intercourse between the seen and the unseen, appears not like a magician's marvel, based on optical illusions; but an example This singular and beautiful incident in the life of our blessed Redeemer I propose to set before you in detail, as befitting the occasion of this sermon, and because it is an incident not only most interesting in itself, but also one which presents to us an idea of that transfiguration into glory which we shall ourselves sometime experience, if by perseverance in the faith we attain to the resurrection of the just. It was into a high mountain, St. Mark informs us, that Jesus led the chosen three, Peter and James and John, by themselves apart from the rest. This is the true sense of the passage in St. Matthew: not that the mountain stood apart from other mountains, but that our Lord took with Him three of His disciples apart from the rest. Nevertheless tradition has long asserted this high mountain to be Tabor, a solitary hill indeed, and apart from others — a hill studded with trees, rising like a rounded mass of verdure out of the plain of Galilee to the height only of 1,700 feet. But there stands another hill in Palestine that rises high above all the hills of Palestine, with snow-clad summits towering to an altitude of 10,000 feet above the level of the Mediterranean. It is the hill of Hermon: nay, rather it is a mountain, the only mountain that deserves the name in the Holy Land. The northern barrier it is of the Holy Land; that lofty barrier which " set the last limit to His wanderings who was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." To some one or other of the southern peaks of Hermon modern research has assigned the scene of the Transfiguration. But leaving the question of place undetermined, we may briefly remark in passing that hills and mountains and high places were often the exalted platforms of exalted events. On Mount Sinai was the law delivered. Up the slopes of Moriah was Isaac led to the sacrifice. On the hill of Rephldim Moses built an altar, and stood with the rod of God in his outstretched hand. From the summits of Ebal and Gerizim sounded the blessings and the curses. Elijah sacrificed on Carmel. On the hill of Zion stood the Temple. "I have looked up to the hills," we read in the Psalms; and from the Mount of Olives our blessed Lord was wont to look up to heaven, which is God's hill — from those hallowed heights prayers ascended from Christ, and Christ Himself ascended bodily. But to return to the text — into this high mountain — whether it was Tabor or Hermon, or neither, but some hill country on the shores of lake Tiberias, our Saviour went up. For what purpose? For the purpose of devotion and prayer. St. Luke expressly asserts that "He went up to pray," and moreover, that "as He prayed, the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment became white and glistering." "The fashion of His countenance was altered." For this was a transfiguration, not a transformation: there was no change of form; the shape of the head and the outline of the features, and the symmetry of the body all remained the same; only the figure or fashion of His countenance was altered: and His face did shine, did shine "as the sun": and His raiment became dazzling white, as the light, white as snow, white as no fuller on earth can whiten. His form, I say, was unaltered, but the fashion of that form underwent a change, His whole sacred person seemed to be living with light, living with the light of the glory which is above the brightness of the sun; this intense unearthly light struggling through the veil of the flesh, streaming through the threads of His raiment, flashing from the inner man to the outer — why so? Why from the inner man to the outer? Because the spirit of Jesus was then rapt in prayer to His Father when His body began to be transfigured. For prayer — fervent prayer — is a great power; it is the silent engine that bends heaven to earth; it is the power which moves the hand which moves the world. The countenance of a holy man rapt in prayer seems to be illumined from within, and is, as it were, a transfiguration begun. It was this surpassing splendour of the heavenly glory which long afterwards again riveted the gaze and dazzled the eye of one of the spectators of this wonderful scene. What St. John afterwards saw, in a trance, in a vision on the Lord's day, that he was commanded to write. And he wrote, "I saw one, like unto the Son of Man" (the beloved disciple recognized his risen and ascended Master) — "I saw one, like unto the Son of Man, clothed with a shining garment down to the foot and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle. His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes were as a flame of fire, and His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace, and His voice as the voice of many waters, and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength." But, brethren, this vision of glory on the heights of the mystic mountain, this brief heaven upon earth in the life of our Lord, this beautiful insertion of a golden link in the iron chain that bound His career, this brilliant intrusion of the Transfiguration into the dreary uniformity of His humiliation, was not without human witnesses. Peter and James and John — the legal number of three — were witnesses of the Transfiguration on the mount, even as they were afterwards witnesses of the Agony in the garden. On both occasions they slumbered and slept. On the present occasion something there was in the majesty of heaven descending to earth which seems to have overpowered the senses of the chosen three. And yet, while their Master was standing and praying near them in the mount, to watch the light of love looking out of His earnest eyes, to see His soul outpoured in those palms outspread, was enough, one would think, to bring His followers, the chosen three, to their senses and to their knees. Yet it was not so, for they saw but heard not; or if they heard they heeded not; or if they heard and heeded, it was but for a little while. Soon somehow their ears became dull, their spirits drowsy, their eyes heavy; they felt a film of stupor rising and spreading between themselves reclining and their Saviour standing. He in the attitude of' one praying, they in the posture of men drooping, listless, lethargic, unconcerned, indifferent, with dreamy eyes and heads nodding in a bewilderment. So the disciples slumbered and slept, but their Master watched and prayed. And as they slept and as He prayed, as they slept the sleep that is cousin to death, and He prayed the prayer that is akin to life, then in the dull stupor of their prostration, and in the holy rapture of His supplication, was ushered in the first act in the Divine drama of the Transfiguration. How it was ushered in, what it was, is not recorded. For when the chosen three awoke out of their sleep, the glory had already set in; and they, lifting up their eyes, "beheld the glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father." And they saw also standing in that glory together with Jesus two human forms. The three attendants, Peter and James and John, themselves outside the glory, beheld the two companions of Jesus standing with Him inside the glory. These two human forms, "whether in the body or out of the body," I know not, were Moses and Elias: Moses the publisher of the law, Elias the chief of the prophets, both of them seen shining in the same light with Christ Himself, who gave the law and sent the prophets. Moses and Elias, admirable to the Jews for their miracles, beautiful to God for their holiness. Moses and Elias, each admitted to conference with God in Horeb; both of them types of Christ; both of them fasters of forty days; both of them dividers of the waters, messengers of God to kings; both of them marvellous in their life, mysterious in their end. A chariot of angels came and took away Elias; he was sought by the prophets and not found. Michael, the archangel, strove with the devil for the body of Moses; and he was sought by his people and not found. But strange to say, both Moses and Elias were destined to be found at last without seeking. Many centuries after their disappearance three fishermen of Galilee found the two prophets of God both together, standing with the Messiah, shining in fellowship with the brightness of His glory on some mountain or other in Galilee. Doubtless, other than human spectators were gazing upon this marvellous scene of the transitory glory. We may well believe that myriads of angels, ever moving on the wings of ministration, on this occasion also clustering around the peaks of Tabor, did in amazement behold Him between two saints transfigured, whom afterwards they beheld in horror between two thieves disfigured. Meanwhile Peter and James and John, from the outer twilight of the sunshine of this world, were looking with an astonished curiosity into that heavenly circle of sevenfold brightness, which ensphered in one glory the shining three, Jesus and with Him Moses and Elias. And as they gazed they heard Moses and Elias speaking — speaking still as of old prophetically and of Christ, for they spake of His decease, or, as St. Luke writes, they "foretold His departure." This they did, not to inform Him that He was to die, for this He knew long before; nay, He Himself communicated it to them, for He was the Word of the Father, and they were but two voices or echoes of that Word — the two prophets inside thus spake in order that the three disciples outside might hear, and that, hearing from two heavenly witnesses what they had before heard from their Divine Master, they might by the threefold testimony be settled, strengthened, established in the belief of the coming passion. And now behold a bright cloud overshadowed them! The outer skirts of the central glory began to advance — to enlarge their borders and to encompass the chosen three. Peter and James and John stand for a while in the golden suburbs of the heavenly Jerusalem. "A bright cloud overshadowed them." He who "tempers the wind to the shorn lamb" softened the dazzling brightness with a luminous curtain. Nevertheless, even in the haze of the cloud that relieved the blaze, they were affrighted. The majesty was veiled to them, yet they were afraid. The glory was tempered to them, yet they trembled. But if the subdued flashing of the clouded splendour alarmed them, the thunder of the voice that came out of the cloud appalled them. It was the voice of God! "This is My Son, My Beloved, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him." At the sound of that Divine voice the three disciples fell upon their face and were exceedingly afraid. And Jesus approaching them, as was His wont, did not rebuke them either for their past drowsiness or for their present terror, but gently said, "Arise, and be not afraid." And lifting up their eyes they saw no one save Jesus only. This was the last scene of this Divine drama. All had now vanished — Moses, Elias, the cloud, the voice, the glory. The mountain remained standing, as it stood before, but not more solid and real than the glimpse of heaven of which it had been the brief stage. Peter and James and John, who had drooped and slumbered, who had gazed upon the scene and wondered, who had heard the voice and had fallen and been raised and comforted, they also remained near the spot. And last, but net least, Jesus, too, remained on the scene; but the beauty of comeliness, the brightness of majesty, the glory of His countenance had departed from Him. This was the second time that He relinquished His glory for us and for our salvation. He was now to outward view just what He was before the change, a man to common eyes of no mark, of no desire. Now, as before, He was in the form of a servant, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He knew what was in store for Him: that from the summits of the glory He must descend into the garden of the agony; from the garden of the agony bearing the cross of shame He must be lifted up on the tree of the curse. That Divine face which had so lately shone with the light of God must be smitten and buffeted and spit upon; that sacred brow and those stainless hands that had just now glistened with a heavenly brightness must be bruised with thorns and pierced with nails; that raiment which had been woven anew with threads of light must be stript from His body and divided as a spoil. As He came down from the mount of the Transfiguration He knew that He must die. He knew as He descended from that happiness that He must descend still further, that henceforth His path lay terribly downward. He knew that He, bearing the nature of all men, must step by step pass down the sleep stair of the humiliation, from the glory to the agony, from the bitter sharp agony to the awful tragedy. He knew that He, the Messiah, the Redeemer of men, the Creator and the Restorer of the world, the Holy One of Israel, the Son of God, must for some hours hang upon the tree, in the daylight a mark of mocking men, in the darkness a butt of scoffing fiends. In this storm of hate, in this wild rage of popular fury, the sea and the waves roaring, cries of blasphemy, shouts of derision shocking His pure ears, from all sides looks of malignant glee, glances of triumphant scorn meeting His meek eyes — He knew that thus and thus He must depart, alone in His passion, abandoned of His fellow-men, deserted by the chosen three, forsaken of the twelve elect, forsaken even in His inmost consciousness of His God. He knew, I say, as He descended from the mount of the Transfiguration that He must die — must die the death of a common malefactor, in order that He might become the common Benefactor of mankind and the propitiation, not only for the sins of His Church, but for the sins also of the whole world.

(T. S. Evans, D. D.)

An alpine traveller has told us how, one day, he set out from Geneva, in a dense and dripping fog, to climb one of the hills in the range of the Grand Saleve; and how, after ascending for some hours, he came out above the mist, and saw the cloudless sky above him, and around him on every hand the snowy battlement of the glorious mountains. In the valley lay the fog, like a waveless ocean of white vapour; and as he stood on the overhanging crags, he could hear the chime of bells, the lowing of cattle, and the sound of labour coming up from the villages that lay invisible beneath; while now and then, darting up out of the cloudy sea, there came a bird, which after delighting itself awhile in the joyous sunshine, and singing a glad song to greet the unexpected brightness, dived down again and disappeared. Now, what that brief time of unclouded radiance was to the bird which had left the drizzling dulness of the lower world beneath it, that was the experience of the Transfiguration to our Lord Jesus. His earthly life, as a whole, was spent in the valley, beneath the clouds of suffering and sorrow; and it was only at rare intervals that He emerged above it, and stood on the mountain-top in the glorious majesty of His native Godhead. Of such occasions, that of she Transfiguration was, by far, the grandest. It stands alone, even among the marvels of His history, rising above them with as much magnificence as does the mountain on which it took place above the surrounding plain.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

The human face is a "book where men can read strange matters." Said Dr. Bellows in a recent sermon: "There is an ecumenical council in the soul of man," a conflict of opinions good and evil, a debate on the great truths of duty and destiny; and we might carry out the figure and say that the doings of this great council in the soul cannot be kept secret by closed lips, for the face is a bulletin-board that constantly indicates the working of the heart. We have all seen how anguish of heart "disasters the cheeks" and furrows the face, and writes upon it the epitaphs of buried hopes; we have seen "faces tramped as hard as a highway by the hoofs of pain and oppression," and every one is thus familiar with the fact that sorrow engraves its story in the countenance. But look, also, into the faces that glare at you from the dens of infamy; faces that seem to contain the ruins of the ten commandments; faces that hurt you more than a blow; faces where "from the eyes the spirit wildly peeps"; faces like petrified vices, not a finger-touch of God left whole upon them, and you will realize that vice as well as misery makes its trademark on the visage while it ravages the heart. Great soul-artists always recognize the fact that we are to see the mind in the visage. Dickens makes even the dogs to lead their blind masters up side alleys to escape the cruel face of Scrooge, while on the other hand, the little boy in the churchyard looks with tears into the face of "little Nell," as her countenance is being transfigured by approaching death to see if she is already an angel, as the neighbours have said she will be soon.

(W. F. Crafts.)

But these transfigurations are not out of date. In the sweet hour of prayer, and around the mercy-seat, it is is still true of many a believer, "as he prayed the fashion of his countenance was changed." I have seen faces that shone with the light of a new experience; faces that caused me to look steadfastly, for they were as the faces of angels by this transfiguration from within. Often I meet a face which is a transfiguration of trust and joy; often I feel the outshining of a mystic glory and peace as I gaze within a face that is itself a gospel, a living epistle known and read of all. Recently there knelt at the altar of mercy a man whose face was horrible with agony and remorse. At length he cried, "My sins are washed away in the blood of the Lamb!" and he looked up beautiful, as it were, with the face of an angel. "The beauty of the Lord our God was upon him." "Beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, he was changed into the same image."

Whether that communion take the form of prayer, or a childlike confidence, or a searching after truth and life, it has this power. Contrast the portraits of Luther and Loyola; George Canning and George IV.; John Milton and Charles I.; or more pertinently still, the portrait of Bunyan, the wild, godless tinker of 1650, with the same Bunyan of twenty years later, the thinking, praying, dreaming maker of laces in Bedford jail for conscience' sake. Or picture to yourself the appearance of John when the fisherman on the Galilean sea — what his face was when with indignant anger he said," Shall we call down fire from heaven and consume them?" — and what he was and his face was, when after intimate communion with the Father through Christ Jesus, he stood by the Cross — and what later still, when old and sainted, he repeated his one text and sermon, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols."

(John Christian, D. D.)

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