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to die in this cruel manner. He had taken much pains to convince them that he was the Messiah; he saw by the confession of Peter that they were convinced; and he then began to prepare their minds for the awful event that was before him. Had he declared this when he first called them, they might have been afraid to follow him. 'Elders. The men of the great council, or sanhedrim. See note, Matt. v. 7. 'Chief priests and scribes.' See note, Matt. iii. 7.
22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
Peter was strongly attached to him. He could not bear to think of his death. He expected, moreover, that he would be the triumphant Messiah. In his ardour, he seized him by the hand and said. 'Be it far from thee.' It expressed Peter's strong desire that it might not be. The word 'rebuke' here means to admonish, or to entreat earnestly, as in Luke xvii. 3. It does not mean that Peter assumed authority over Christ; but that he earnestly expressed his wish that it might not be so.
23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
The word 'Satan' means literally, an adversary. It is applied to the devil as the opposer or adversary of man. Christ meant to say that this interference was improper-that Peter's views and feelings stood in the way of the accomplishment of his designs. "Thou art an offence.' That is a stumbling-block. Your advice and wishes are in my way. If followed, they would prevent the very thing for which I came. 'Thou savourest not." That is, thou thinkest not. You think that those things should not be done, which God wishes to be done. You judge of this matter as men do, and not as God, who sees it best that I should die, to promote the great interests of mankind.
24¶Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
This discourse is also recorded in Mark viii. 34-38; ix. 1, and Luke ix. 23-37. 'Let him deny himself." Let him not seek his own happiness as the supreme object, but be willing to renounce all, and lay down his life also, if required. 'Take up his cross.' See note Matt. x. 38.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 'Whosoever will save his life, &c. See note, Matt. x. 39.
26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
To gain the whole world means to possess it as our own,-all its riches, honours, and pleasures. Those who are striving to gain the world, and are unwilling to give it up for the sake of religion, will lose their souls. If the soul is lost, nothing can be given in exchange for it, or it can never afterwards be saved. There is no redemption in hell.
27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
'For the Son of man,' &c. That is, the Lord Jesus Christ shall return to judge the world. 'Reward.' He will deal with them according to their characters. This fact, that he will come to judgment, Christ gives as a reason why we should be willing to deny ourselves and follow him. Even though now it should be attended with contempt and suffering, yet then he will reward his followers for all their shame and sorrows, and receive them to his kingdom. He adds, Mark viii. 38, that if we are ashamed of him here, he will be ashamed of us there. That is, if we reject and disown him here, he will reject and disown us there.
28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.
'Taste of death.' That is, die. See John viii. 51-53. Before they die they shall see this. Son of man coming in his kingdom.' Mark and Luke have explained this, Mark ix. 1: 'Until they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.' Luke ix. 27; 'Till they see the kingdom of God.' The meaning is, till they should see Christ's kingdom, that is, his church, now small, feeble, and despised, greatly enlarged, established, and spreading with great rapidity and extent. All this was accomplished. All these apostles, except Judas, lived to see the wonders of the day of Pentecost; some of them, John particularly, saw the gospel established in a large part of the known world. It will not be long before he will come. At any rate, it will not be long before we shall meet him. Death is near. And then we must stand before him, and give an account of the deeds done in the body.
1 AND after six days Jesus taketh Peter, and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart,
'And after six
See also Mark ix. 2-10. Luke ix. 28-36. days.' That is, six days from the conversation recorded in the last chapter. Luke, ix. 28, says, about eight days after. Matthew mentions the six days that intervened between the day of the conversation and the transfiguration. Luke includes both those days and thus reckons eight. These three disciples were with him also in the garden of Gethsemane, Mark xiv. 33. He designed to fit them, in an eminent degree, for the work of the gospel ministry, by the previous manifestations of his glory, and of his patience in suffering. Into a high mountain apart." That isapart from the other disciples. It is commonly supposed that this was mount Tabor, a high mountain in Galilee. Luke adds, ix. 28, that he ascended there to pray. Our Saviour prayed much. When he did it, he chose to be alone. For this purpose he often ascended mountains, or went into deserts.
2 And was transfigured before them and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
The word 'transfigure' means to change the appearance, or form. What this change was, we are expressly told. 1. His face shone as the sun; that is, with a peculiar brightness. A similar appearance is described respecting Moses when he came down from the mount, Ex. xxxiv. 29, 30. 2. Another change was that of his garments. They were white as the light. Mark says, white as snow, so as no fuller on earth could whiten them. The word 'fuller' means one who bleaches cloth, or makes it white; one who cleanses white garments, when by wearing they become soiled. Among the Greeks it was a distinct trade. Luke says white and glistening; that is, resplendent, shining, or a very bright white. 'Raiment.' Clothing. Apparel. John refers to this transfiguration in ch. i. 14; and Peter in his second epistle i. 16, 17.
3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias, talking with him.
Moses, a distinguished servant of God, by whom the law was given, and whose institutions typified the Messiah. Elias or Elijah, a distinguished prophet, taken to heaven without seeing death. See 2 Kings ii. 11. They appeared in glory; Luke ix. 31, in a glorious form. Talking with him.' Luke, ix. 31, informs us that they conversed about his decease, which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. To redeemed spirits, that death was an object of intense interest. By faith in that death, they had been saved; and now that it was near, and the Redeemer of mankind was about to die, it is no wonder that this was the burden of his and their thoughts.
Luke adds, ix. 32, that Peter, and they who were with him,
were heavy with sleep. It was after they were awake that they saw this vision. Probably the sudden splendour, the bright shining, aroused them from sleep.
4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
Atabernacle' is a tent. It was made commonly by fixing posts into the ground, and stretching on them cloth, fastened by cords, Isa. liv. 2. Peter was rejoiced at the vision, and desirous of its continuance. They were frightened, amazed, and rejoiced; and, in the ecstasy of the moment, they proposed to remain there.
5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold, a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
The word 'overshadow,' here means rather to be diffused, or spread over them. A'cloud' was a symbol of the divine presence. Thus God went before the Israelites in a cloudy pillardark by day, and bright by night, Ex. xiv. 19, 20. God appeared in a cloud on Mount Sinai, Ex. xxiv. 15, 16; and a cloud, the symbol of the divine presence, was seen in the most holy place in the temple, 1 Kings viii. 10, 11. Ezek. i. 4.; x. 4. When, therefore, the disciples saw this cloud, they were prepared to hear the word of the Lord. This is my beloved Son.' This was the voice of God. This was the second time that, in a remarkable manner, he had declared this. See Matt. iii. 17. This was spoken to confirm the disciples; to declare their duty to hear Christ, rather than any other, and to honour him more than Moses and Elijah. After this, it was impossible for them to doubt that he was truly the Son of God. See 2 Pet. i. 17, 18.
6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.
They entered into the cloud; or the cloud enveloped them, Luke ix. 34. They were therefore afraid. They were awed at the presence of God; and their fears were scattered only by the voice of their beloved Master.
7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. 8 And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. 9 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus
charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.
'Tell the vision to no man.' While he was with them, it was unnecessary that they should relate what they had seen. When he was crucified, and had ascended, they would need this evidence that he was the Christ. Then they were to use it. There were three witnesses of it; as many as the law required; and the proof that he was the Messiah was clear. 'Vision.' Sight; appearance. What they had seen on the mount.
Mark adds, ix. 10, they kept this saying, questioning what the rising of the dead should mean. The pharisees believed that the dead would rise; and there is no doubt that the disciples believed it. But their views were not clear. And in particular, they did not understand what he meant by his rising from the dead.
10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes, that Elias must first come?
See also Mark ix. 11-13. 'Why then say the scribes,' &c. The disciples appear to have been satisfied now, that he was the Messiah. The transfiguration had taken away all their doubts. But they recollected that it was a common doctrine among the Jews that Elijah should appear before the Messiah came; and they did not then recollect that John the Baptist had appeared in the spirit and power of Elias. To this difficulty the word 'then' refers. See note, Matt. xi. 14.
11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things:
He did not mean by this that Elijah was yet to come; but that it was a true doctrine which the scribes taught, that Elijah would appear before the coming of the Messiah. To restore,' means to put into the former situation, to heal, to correct, to put in proper order. Here it means, that Elijah would be the instrument of reforming the people; of restoring them, in some measure, to proper notions about the Messiah, and preparing them for his coming. John corrected many of their notions about the Messiah, see Matt. iii., and was the instrument of an extensive reformation.
12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.
'Elias is come.' That is, John the Baptist has come, in the spirit and power of Elias. See Luke i. 17. They have done whatsoever they listed.' The word 'list' is an old English word,