In each of the three Gospels recording this scene it is introduced by the same quotation from Jesus’ lips. There were some persons in His presence who would not die until they had seen the kingdom of God. The writers’ reference is clearly to the vision that follows. It is said to be a vision of the coming kingdom. Jesus, with the divine glory within, no longer concealed, but shining out with an indescribable splendor, up above the earth, with two godly men, one of whom had died, and the other had been caught up from the earth without death, talking earnestly about men and affairs on the earth, and in direct communication with the Father—that is the vision here of the kingdom.
A Vision of Jesus.
And so the darkest hour save only one was filled with the brightest light. The after, darker hour of Calvary had gleams of light from this transfiguration scene. There was faithful John’s sympathetic presence all through the trial. John never flinched. And Peter had tears that caught the light from Jesus’ eyes, and reflected their glistening rays within. Those tears of Peter’s were a great comfort to Jesus that night and the next day. The two greatest leaders were sure.
The transfiguration served its purpose fully. The memory of it saved Peter out of the wreckage of Simon, else Judas’ hemp might have had double use that night. Under the leadership of these men, the little band hold together during that day, so awful to them in the killing of their leader and the dashing of all their fondest hopes on which they had staked everything. Two nights later finds them gathered in a room. Could it have been the same upper room where they had eaten with Him that never-to-be-forgotten night, and listened to His comforting words? Only Thomas does not come. Everybody swings in but one. That shows good work by these leaders. But another week’s work brings him, too, into the meeting and into the light.
These three men never forgot the sight of that night. John writes his Gospel under the spell of the transfiguration. “We beheld His glory" he says at the start, and understands Isaiah’s wondrous writings, because he, too, “saw His glory." The impression made upon Peter deepened steadily with the years. The first impression of garments glistening beyond any fuller’s skill has grown into an abiding sense of the “majesty” of Jesus and “the majestic glory.” I think it wholly likely, too, that this vision of glory was in James’ face, and steadied his steps, as so early in the history he met Herod’s swordsman.
It was a vision of Jesus that turned the tide. There’s nothing to be compared with that. A man’s life and service depend wholly on the vision of Jesus that has come, that is coming. When that comes, instinctively he finds himself ever after saying, without planning to,
“Since mine eyes were
fixed on Jesus,
I’ve lost sight of all beside.
So enchained my spirit’s vision,
Looking at the Crucified.”