An other Christian WordPress.com site – Een andere Christelijke WordPress.com site

Matthew 17:1. And after six days. We must first inquire for what purpose Christ clothed himself with heavenly glory for a short time, and why he did not admit more than three of his disciples to be spectators. Some think that he did so, in order to fortify them against the trial which they were soon to meet with, arising from his death. That does not appear to me to be a probable reason; for why should he have deprived the rest of the same remedy, or rather, why does he expressly forbid them to make known what they had seen till after his resurrection, but because the result of the vision would be later than his death?

I have no doubt whatever that Christ intended to show that he was not dragged unwillingly to death, but that he came forward of his own accord, to offer to the Father the sacrifice of obedience. The disciples were not made aware of this till Christ rose; nor was it even necessary that, at the very moment of his death, they should perceive the divine power of Christ, so as to acknowledge it to be victorious on the cross; but the instruction which they now received was intended to be useful at a future period both to themselves and to us, that no man might take offense at the weakness of Christ, as if it were by force and necessity that he had suffered. {1 } It would manifestly have been quite as easy for Christ to protect his body from death as to clothe it with heavenly glory.

We are thus taught that he was subjected to death, because he wished it to be so; that he was crucified, because he offered himself. That same flesh, which was sacrificed on the cross and lay in the grave, might have been exempted from death and the grave; for it had already partaken of the heavenly glory. We are also taught that, so long as Christ remained in the world, bearing the form of a servant, and so long as his majesty was concealed under the weakness of the flesh, nothing had been taken from him, for it was of his own accord that he emptied himself, (#Php 2:7); but now his resurrection has drawn aside that veil by which his power had been concealed for a time.

Our Lord reckoned it enough to select three witnesses, because that is the number which the Law has laid down for proving any thing;

at the mouth of two witnesses or three witnesses, (#De 17:6).

The difference as to time ought not to give us uneasiness. Matthew and Mark reckon six entire days, which had elapsed between the events. Luke says that it happened about eight days afterwards, including both the day on which Christ spake these words, and the day on which he was transfigured. We see then that, under a diversity of expression, there is a perfect agreement as to the meaning.

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2. And was transfigured before them. Luke says that this happened while he was praying; and from the circumstances of time and place, we may infer that he had prayed for what he now obtained, that in the brightness of an unusual form his Godhead might become visible*; not that he needed to ask by prayer from another what he did not possess, or that he doubted his Father’s willingness, but because, during the whole course of his humiliation, he always ascribed to the Father whatever he did as a divine Person, and because he intended to excite us to prayer by his example.

His transfiguration did not altogether enable his disciples to see Christ, as he now is in heaven, but gave them a taste of his boundless glory, such as they were able to comprehend. Then his face shone as the sun; but now he is far beyond the sun in brightness. In his raiment an unusual and dazzling whiteness appeared; but now without raiment a divine majesty shines in his whole body. Thus in ancient times God appeared to the holy fathers, not as He was in Himself, but so far as they could endure the rays of His infinite brightness; for John declares that not until

they are like him will they see him as he is, (#1Jo 3:2).**

There is no necessity for entering here into ingenious inquiries as to the whiteness of his garments, or the brightness of his countenance; for this was not a complete exhibition of the heavenly glory of Christ, but, under symbols which were adapted to the capacity of the flesh, he enabled them to taste in part what could not be fully comprehended.

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{1 } “Comme si par force et contreinte il fust renu endurer la mort”;  — ” as if by force and constraint he had come to suffer death.”

* Calvin writes from his trinitarian point of view not seeing that Jesus as son of God wanted to do the Will of His heavenly Father and did put his own will aside, emptying himself. Though Calvin recognises that Jesus always ascribed to the Father whatever he did as a divine person.

** 1Jo 3:2 Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if {1 } he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is.

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Preceding

Matthew 17:1-9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Transfiguration Vision

Matthew 17:10-13 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Elijah Has Already Come

Matthew 17:14-21 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed

Matthew 17:22-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Grief and Jesus’ Prediction of His Death

Matthew 17:24-27 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Tax-free Sons No Stumbling-block

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Related

  1. Into the Midst of Theology
  2. On the Mountain
  3. Matthew Chapter A Day – 17
  4. Matthew 17 – The Mount of Transfiguration
  5. The Transfiguration of Christ
  6. Transfiguration Sunday
  7. Matthew 17:1-8 The Terrifying Transfiguration
  8. 4. Witnessed the Transfiguration of Jesus
  9. Jesus’ glory revealed: Mark 9
  10. Mark 9:2-8 – Shining the Light on Our Fears
  11. “It is good for us to be here.” A Sermon of Anastasius of Sinai, bishop
  12. The Glory of Jesus’ Transfiguration
  13. And Jesus alone remains
  14. As no fuller
  15. Uphill and Down
  16. Wake Up and See Who Jesus Really Is
  17. Peter & John — Luke 9:28-36
  18. Transfiguration – Divinization and the Transmigration of Souls

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