Eyewitnesses of His Glory
"For we did not follow cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. And this voice we ourselves heard come out of heaven, when we were with Him on the holy mount. And we have the word of prophecy made more sure; where unto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts" (2 Peter 1:16-19)
That little clause in the hymn by M. E. Gates that we often sing might be the title of our present meditations - "men whose eyes have seen the King." Men whose eyes have seen the King! As we, in that hymn, pray the Lord to send such men, I am sure we all feel deeply and strongly that that is the great need of our time. The world needs such men; the Church needs them; and at all times when the Lord has had such men, and has sent them forth, the need has been met - His need and the need of others.
I think it is the "seeing of the King" that really sums up this whole matter of the Transfiguration. That is why the Lord took the three leaders from the twelve up the mountain, in order that presently, with that vision made alive with meaning and power by the Holy Spirit, they might go forth as men who had seen the King. And what happened? We are living today in the ever-growing value of that vision.
The Setting of the Transfiguration
The very setting in the Word, in both of the places in which the Transfiguration is referred to, as we have read, is significant and helpful. As you know, three of the four gospels - Matthew, Mark and Luke - record this matter of the Transfiguration, indicating, surely, that with these men this matter was of some particular importance. If John did not actually record the event, I am not sure that he passed it over, or did not have it in mind. We may come to that as we go on. But you will recall that, at the time of the Transfiguration, things were becoming increasingly difficult for the Lord. The growing hostility in all directions was pressing Him in weighing heavily upon His Spirit, and making His ministry more and more difficult, more and more limited. The shadow of the Cross was lengthening on His path. It is of this very matter that He now speaks frankly to His disciples for the first time: He speaks frankly about the Cross. The atmosphere was just charged with a sense of pending crisis - something is going to happen. It was at that time, in those conditions, that He took three from the twelve into the mountain apart, and was transfigured before them. It had a great relatedness to the situation which was developing.
In the case of the many years later, when Peter wrote about the Transfiguration, we know from his letters something of the situation. He begins his first letter by addressing himself to the saints "scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia" - scattered saints. Perhaps you know what it means to be of the "scattered" people of the Lord, in distant places, in lonely places; distance and loneliness creating their own problems and heartaches. How things seem to ease up when we are together! There is such a sense of fellowship, a sense of life and of joy, when we are all together. These saints had perhaps known something of the great "togetherness" of Jerusalem or elsewhere, but were now scattered, with all that that means.
(continued with # 2)