Suddenly two men, Moses and Elijah, began talking with Jesus.
Moses and Elias: who appeared in glory, and spake of His decease.I. IN THE DECEASE AT JERUSALEM, THERE IS THE DEATH OF THE SINLESS CHRIST.
II. THIS DECEASE AT JERUSALEM WAS A DEATH PURELY AND PERFECTLY VOLUNTARY.
III. IN THE DECEASE AT JERUSALEM WE HAVE A DEATH WHICH APPEARS TO BE MORE IMPORTANT AND PRECIOUS THAN EVEN LIFE.
IV. IN THIS DECEASE AT JERUSALEM, WE HAVE THE ONLY INSTANCE OF A MAN BEING A SACRIFICE FOR SIN.
V. IN THIS DECEASE AT JERUSALEM, WE HAVE A DEATH THAT IS TO BE REMEMBERED AND COMMEMORATED FOR EVER.
(H. J. Bevis.)1. What they spake of none could Divine, unless it had been told us, and the Evangelist Luke telleth us, that it was of His death. This argument was chosen —(1) Because it was at hand. The next solemn mediatory action after this was His death and bloody sufferings; after He was transfigured in the Mount, He went down to suffer at Jerusalem.(2) This was an offence to the apostles that their Master should die (Matthew 16:22, 23).(3) This was the Jews' stumbling-block (1 Corinthians 1:23).(4) This was prefigured in the rites of the Law, foretold in the writings of the Prophets.(5) It was necessary that by death He should come to His glory, of which now some glimpse and foretaste was given to Him.(6) The redemption of the Church by Christ is the talk and discourse we shall have in heaven. The angels and glorified saints are blessing and praising Him for this (Revelation 5:9, 12).(7) It is an instructive pattern to us, that Christ in the midst of His Transfiguration, and the glory which was then put upon Him, forgat not His death. In the greatest advancement we should think of our dissolution. If Christ, in all His glory, discoursed of His death, surely it more becometh us, as necessary for us to prevent the surfeit of worldly pleasures; we should think of the change that is coming, for "Surely every man at his best estate is vanity" (Psalm 39:5). In some places they were wont to present a death's head at their solemn feasts; merry days will not always last, death will soon put an end to the vain pleasures we enjoy here, and the most shining glory will be burnt out to a snuff.
2. The notion by which His death is expressed, His decease ἔξοδον, which signifies the going out of this life into another, which is to be noted.(1) In respect unto Christ His death was an "exodus," for He went out of this mortal life into glory, and so it implieth both His suffering death, and also His resurrection (Acts 2:24).(2) With respect to us; Peter (2 Peter 1:15) calls His death an "exodus." The death of the godly is a "going out," but from sin and sorrow, to glory and immortality. The soul dwelleth in the body as a man in a house, and death is but a departure out of one house into another; not an extinction, but a going from house to house.
3. The necessity of undergoing it. "Accomplishing."(1) His mediatorial duty, with a respect to God's ordination and decree declared in the prophecies of the Old Testament, which, when they are fulfilled, are said to be accomplished. Whatsoever Christ did in the work of redemption was with respect to God's will and eternal decree (Acts 4:28).(2) His voluntary submission which He should accomplish, noteth His active and voluntary concurrence; it is an active word Dot passive, not to be fulfilled upon Him, but by Him.(3) That it was the eminent act of His humiliation; for this cause He assumed human nature. His humiliation began at His birth, continued in His life, and was accomplished in dying; all was nothing without this, therefore there is a consummation or perfection attributed to the death of Christ (Hebrews 10:14).
(T. Manton, D. D.)
I. The first point to be noted here is, THE VOLUNTARY CHARACTER OF THIS DEATH. There was no power, no law of nature that made death a necessity to the Lord Jesus. That pilgrimage into the regions of the tomb He could undertake or decline, according to His own pleasure. He died simply because He willed to die. He might have left the world in a very different way. Like His own servant Elias, with whom He conversed of this decease, He might have returned to heaven in a chariot of fire; or, if He must taste death in order that He might be perfectly like unto His brethren, His departure might have been calm and tranquil, in the stillness of home, amid the sympathies and tears of loving friends. Such a death would surely have been sufficient, if the end of His ministry had been simply the manifestation of God in the flesh. Instead of a close so fitting to a life of purity, He chose to accomplish a decease, in which He should be "numbered with the transgressors." Surely for this there must have been wise and sufficient reason. The fact that He died thus, is the proof that the great design of His advent could be fulfilled only by such a death. With Him it was the centre-fact of His whole history.
II. THE IMPORTANCE ATTACHED TO THIS DEATH. He had work to do in the world beside, a bright example to give; the true ideal of a human life to set before man; a perfect righteousness to win; a thousand blessings to scatter; His own deep love and sympathy with human sorrows to discover: but His great work was this — to die.
III. THE TRUE MEANING OF THIS DEATH. The New Testament speaks in various ways — sometimes it employs the language of type and symbol — sometimes it gives us distinct and explicit statements but all its representations of this death converge to one point, and enforce one grand idea. "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us." Here is an expressive metaphor — one whose signification it cannot be hard to discover. What is the meaning of the apostle? The Paschal Lamb died for the deliverance of the nation — through his death the nation escaped the sword of the destroying angel — the animal was slain, the blood was sprinkled, and the people were saved. So was Christ our Passover sacrificed, that we might be delivered — His death is our life — in virtue of His blood of sprinkling we are purified and accepted. "The decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem." Thus, then, did the man Christ Jesus ever keep before Him that goal of suffering and humiliation to which His steps were tending. Not ignorantly did He rush on perils and death, entering on a path whose end He did not discern until retreat had become impossible. Knowing what the work was, He had deliberately undertaken it, and throughout all its stages, the issue was ever present to His eye. Very early in His ministry did He indicate that He was set apart to this service — was anointed unto sacrifice.
(J. G. Rogers, B. A.)
(Canon Body.)1. "It is strange how much we can find in that great scene on the Holy Mount, to illustrate this conception, and to impress it on our minds. Look at the speakers — Moses, Elijah, Christ. Was not the death of Moses an exodus? A sacred mystery hangs over the decease of the "Man of God." "He who died by the kiss of the Eternal" is a not infrequent synonym for Moses in the Rabbinical schools. Elijah, again, was rapt, we are told, and carried up into heaven, as by a whirling cloud of fiery chariots. If, therefore, any of the sons of men should be permitted to pass from the spiritual world to hold converse with Christ in the moment of His glory, these were the two men. They had already and fully achieved the exodus or journey of death, and had passed into the large fair land beyond. "They talked with Him of the exodus He should accomplish at Jerusalem." If we love and follow Him, we need not doubt that we shall be made partakers of His death in this high sense — that for us, as for Him, death will be an exodus, a journey home.
2. The more we study this conception of death the more instructive and suggestive we shall find it to be. The illustration which the figure suggests, and was intended to suggest, is the exodus of Israel from Egypt. If we consider what that exodus was and implies, if we then proceed to infer that death will be to us very much what their exodus was to the captive Hebrew race, we shall reach some thoughts of death, and of the life that follows death, which can hardly fail to be new and helpful to us. The exodus was a transition from bondage to freedom, from grinding and unrequited toil to comparative rest, from ignorance to knowledge, from shame to honour, from a life distracted by care and pain and fear to a life in which men were fed by the immediate bounty of God, guided by His wisdom, guarded by His omnipotence, consecrated to His service. And if death be an exodus, we may say that, by the gate and avenue of death, we shall pass from bondage to freedom, &c.
(S. Cox, D. D.)I. CHRIST GLORIFIED IN CONNECTION WITH HIS DEATH. There are two transfigurations — that of the Mount and that of the Cross; and it is impossible to understand either, save in the light of the other. He who was on the Mount was still the Man of Sorrows, and He who was on the Cross was still the Divine Son. The death on the Cross gave its glory to the mountain-scene; the declaration on the Mount makes the death all-radiant with triumph.
II. CHRIST GLORIFIED THROUGH HIS DEATH, REFLECTS BACK A RADIANCE ON MOSES AND ELIJAH.
III. AS MOSES AND ELIJAH ARE THUS GLORIFIED BY CHRIST, THEY RETIRE FROM VIEW AND GIVE PLACE TO HIM.
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
1. That human spirits are not annihilated when they disappear from this world.
2. That human spirits have a personal existence after death.
3. We see in Moses and Elias what all faithful souls shall be, when the great redemption is completed — as like unto God as possible.
(Thomas Jones.)tion: — Jesus was lifted by His rapture above the fear of death. He spoke calmly of His decease with the messengers from the unseen world, whose very presence testified of death conquered and the grave despoiled. His acutest pain was transformed into His highest joy, as the body of His humiliation was transfigured by the glory of heaven; and at that supreme moment, when His life was at the brightest, He could have willingly lain it down, and passed into the dark shadow feared of man. This true to human experience. Jacob on seeing Joseph again — "Now let me die"; Simeon, with the infant Saviour in his aged arms — "Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace." And outside the domain of Scripture we find numerous examples of the same strange intermingling of the highest glory of life with the thought of sorrow and death. It is indeed on mounts of transfiguration, when our nature is irradiated by some great joy, that we love to speak of our decease. We fear not to enter into the cloud of death when we are transfigured by the passionate intensity of our feelings. Our joy transforms the pain of dying into its own splendour, as the sun changes the very cloud into sunshine. All thoughtful writers have described this remarkable human experience, AEschylus, in his " Agamemnon ", pictures the herald returning from the Trojan War as so overjoyed at revisiting his native land that he was willing to die. Goethe represents one of his most beautiful creations — the loved and loving Clara — as wishing to die in the hour of her purest joy; for earth had nothing beyond the rapture of that experience. Shakespeare puts into the lips of Othello, at his joyful meeting with Desdemona, after the perils of his voyage to Cyprus were over, the passionate exclamation: —
"If it were now to die
"Twere now to be most happy: for I fear
My soul hath her content so absolute,
That not another comfort like to this
Succeeds in unknown fate."
It is said of Benjamin Franklin that his exultation was so great when he succeeded in attracting the lightning from the clouds by means of his kite, and thus proving its identity with the electricity of the earth, that he could willingly have died that very moment. Miss Martineau, in her "Retrospect of Western Travel," describes the grandeur of a storm which she encountered on the Atlantic, as producing a similar triumph over the fear of death. "In the excitement of such an hour," she says, "one feels as if one would as soon go down in those magnificent waters as die any other death." I remember, on one occasion, having something of the same feeling. I was travelling at night in a mountain region, when a terrible storm came on. The rain poured in torrents; the thunder pealed among the rocks; flash after flash of lightning linked the hills together, as with chains of fire. A pall of blackness covered the sky from end to end. Hundreds of torrents poured down the heights into a lake, as if direct from the clouds; the sheen of their foam looked weird and ghastly in the illumination of the lightning, and their roar drowning the crash of the thunder; the sound of many waters, here, there, and everywhere, filling earth and sky. Amid all this appalling elemental war, I felt a strange excitement and uplifting of soul, which made me indifferent to danger, careless what became of me. Such moments reveal to us the greatness of our nature, and fill us with the intoxication of immortality. Death in such glorious circumstances seems an apotheosis. He comes to us as it were with the whirlwind and the chariot of fire, to lift us above the slow pain of dying, in the rapture of translation.
(H. Macmillan, LL. D.)
I. THE PERSONS WHO CONVERSED WITH OUR LORD WERE TWO MEN.
1. It may be thought that two angels would have rendered the scene more splendid, but there was a peculiar propriety in employing men.
2. They were men of high eminence under the former dispensation.
3. We are told that these visitants appeared in glory. They came from heaven, and though their honour and felicity there were very high, they felt no reluctance to descend to this mountain. They were not called to relinquish their splendour or to cover it with a veil, as our Lord is said to have "emptied Himself," when he appeared in our world. The glory which invested them must have been very great, since it was visible amidst the brightness spread around our Lord.
4. They talked with Jesus. It is not said that they talked with one another. They descended, not to hold intercourse with the disciples, but with their Master.
II. Let us now attend to THE SUBJECT OF THEIR CONFERENCE. It was the decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem.
1. They spake of the moral glory which Jesus should exhibit in His departure. Great was the glory of Moses in the going forth from Egypt.
2. They spoke of the important ends to be gained by His death. It reconciles the mind to labours and sufferings, when we are assured that valuable ends will be gained by them. Let me specify some of these ends. They talked of the glory which would result from His death to all the Divine perfections. The expiation to be made for sin was another end. I must mention further, the salvation to be gained by His death for millions of human beings.
3. We may consider them as speaking of the influence of His death.
4. They spoke of the rewards which would be conferred on Him for His obedience to the death.Let me now state shortly, some of the reasons why this theme was chosen for conference on the Mount.
1. It was done to animate and invigorate the Son of Man for the scene before Him.
2. We may find another reason for the choice of the topic in its peculiar importance.
3. They talked of this subject for the sake of the disciples.
4. They did it for the benefit of the Church in all ages.
1. Let Christians live more under the influence of this death than ever.
2. Let good men prepare for their departure.
3. Let me call on the disciples of Jesus, with kindred feelings to those of Moses and Elias, to commemorate their Saviour's decease. And let those who never approach the Lord's table consider that, were their conduct general, the death of Christ might sink into oblivion on earth.
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