Sermon 2658. Waking to See Christ's Glory
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, JANUARY 21, 1900.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, SEPTEMBER 3, 1882.
"And when they were awake, they saw His glory and the two men that stood with Him." Luke 9:32.
It seems, at first sight, a strange thing that the Apostles should have been asleep at such a time, yet, if we think of thecircumstances in which they were placed and of the extreme excitement under which they must have labored, it will not appearat all amazing that "Peter and they that were with Him were heavy with sleep." In the 28th verse it is written, concerningour Lord, "He took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as He prayed, the fashion of His countenancewas altered and His raiment was white and glistening." We know that the Savior frequently retired to some quiet, secludedspot for fellowship with His Father and that, sometimes, He spent the whole night in prayer. It is very probable that on thisoccasion He had been engaged in earnest prayer for several hours before the Transfiguration came. And it is worthy of notethat He was transfigured while He was praying. Every blessing comes to the great Head of the Church and to all the membersof His mystical body through prayer! There is nothing promised to us without prayer, but, with prayer, everything is providedfor us-and by prayer we shall ascend into Glory.
I cannot tell how long the Lord had been in prayer but, judging from His usual manner and custom, I should suppose that Hehad spent some hours in supplication. Even the three most highly favored Apostles were not as spiritually minded as He wasand they grew weary while He was still full of holy vigor and fervor. The most zealous among us might be tired of listeningto the best man in the world if he were to keep on praying hour after hour, yet he himself might be enjoying a special baptismof the Spirit and be quite unconscious of fatigue and, in his wrestling with God, might be all the while going from strengthto strength. We, who were merely onlookers, would probably grow drowsy and be unable to keep up the strain as he would keepit up-our spirit might be willing enough to sympathize with him-but the weakness of our flesh would make us, like the Apostles,"heavy with sleep." I wonder not, therefore, if the Savior's supplication was long-continued and that His disciples grew wearyand fell into a state of slumber!
Probably, however, their sleeping was the result of the extraordinary excitement through which they had passed, for, as inextreme pain, kind Nature comes to the rescue and causes a swooning or fainting fit by which the poor sufferer is relieved.sometimes she comes in when there is a stress of mental excitement, whether joyous or grievous, and gives rest, even by unwillingslumber, to those who otherwise might have been exhausted. You remember, dear Friends, that these very persons fell asleepin Gethsemane. When their Master rose up from His agony of prayer and came back to them, "He found them sleeping for sorrow."They were themselves so depressed in spirit by His sufferings, that although they had true sympathy with Him, as far as theycould have it, they fell asleep and their Master, while gently chiding them, made excuse for them as He said, "What, couldyou not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation: the spirit, indeed, is willing, but theflesh is weak."
These Apostles are not the only persons who have slept in the presence of the grandly supernatural. It happened so to Daniel-thatSeer with the burning eyes who seemed as if he could look right into the glories of Heaven without blinking or being blindedby the wondrous vision! Yet we read in his 8th Chapter, at the 18th verse, when an angel appeared to him, "Now as he was speakingwith me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me and set me upright." And further, in the 10thChapter, at the 8th verse, we read, "Therefore I was left alone and saw this great vision,
and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yetheard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my facetoward the ground." These supernatural things are too much for mortal men to endure! The narrow compass of our mind cannotcontain the Infinite and if, when we behold the Glory of God to an unusual degree, we do not die-if our lives are spared afterwe have seen that great sight-at least the image of death must come upon us and we must fall into a deep sleep. I will not,therefore, blame Peter, James and John for sleeping on that memorable occasion, for I do not think that there was any sinin their slumbering under such circumstances. They were Apostles, but they were only men and, being men, they were feeblecreatures. And when they came into those deep waters, they were altogether out of their depth, so they began to sink in theocean of the Divine Glory and soon were lost in the unconsciousness of sleep. Marvel not, therefore, Brothers and Sisters,that you find these three Apostles slumbering even in the Presence of their Transfigured Lord!
But, now-and this will be our first head-it was necessary that they should be awake to see the glories of Christ Secondly,if you and I are to see the glories of Christ, it is necessary that we, also, should be awake, and that is more than can besaid of all of us. I may say to some, "Let us not sleep as others do," for there are many who are so soundly sleeping thatthey are quite oblivious of the glories of Christ. When I have spoken on those two points, I want to close my discourse byshowing you that this doctrine of the necessity of our wakefulness explains many things.
I. "When they were awake, they saw His glory and the two men that stood with Him." So, first, IT WAS NECESSARY FOR THEM TOBE AWAKE TO SEE CHRIST'S GLORY.
It was necessary, first, that Christ's Transfiguration might be known to be a fact-not a dream, nor a piece of imaginationwhich had no real existence. "When they were awake, they saw His glory." It was a literal matter of fact to them. As surelyas Christ was born at Bethlehem. As certainly as He toiled in the carpenter's shop at Nazareth. As truly as His blessed feettrudged over the holy fields of Judaea. As truly as He healed the sick and preached the Gospel wherever He went and as reallyas He did actually die upon the Cross of Calvary, so it is a matter of plain fact that Jesus Christ did, on a certain mountain-whatmountain we do not know-undergo a wonderful change, for the time being, in which His glory was marvelously and distinctlydisplayed so that His three disciples could see it!
"And, behold, there talked with Him two men"-Elijah, who never died, and who was there with Him bodily. And Moses, who diddie, and so may only have been there in spirit, unless that dispute between Michael the Archangel and the devil, about thebody of Moses, may relate to the fetching away of that body that he might enjoy the same privilege as Enoch and Elijah did.Of that matter, I know nothing, but those two men, Moses and Elijah, were certainly there-not merely in appearance, but inreality. And our Lord Jesus Christ was really transfigured-"the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment waswhite and glistening." It is true that Peter did not know what he said, but he knew what he saw when he was wide awake. TheRevised Version renders our text, "When they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men that stood with Him." Theyhad not imagined this scene while they were in a semiconscious state between sleeping and waking! It was no night vision ordaydream. It was not something painted by fancy upon their eyeballs and which had no actual existence, but it was a real meetingbetween their Lord and Moses and Elijah. They did see Christ and His two companions from Heaven and they did hear the Father'svoice, saying, "This is My beloved Son: hear Him."
Peter did not know what he said, but he knew what he heard. He was wide awake enough to understand that message and, longafterwards, he recalled it when he wrote concerning his Lord, "For He received from God the Father honor and glory, when therecame such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. And this voice whichcame from Heaven we heard, when we were with Him on the holy mount." So, you see, dear Friends, that they had to be awakein order that they might be able to confirm all this as an actual occurrence. And, to my mind, this is very pleasant. I liketo remember that the Lord Jesus, the Man of Sorrows, let some beams of His glory shine out even while He was here below. Andif, in His humiliation, His transfigured face appeared so bright, what must His glory be above where His face shines brighterthan the sun, and His eyes are as flames of fire, and his feet like fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace? What is nowthe matchless beauty of that Visage which was marred more than that of any other man? When He did but for a moment withdrawthe veil, His disciples were overwhelmed with the magnificence of the display! But what must it be to see His face foreverin Heaven above?
Next, it was necessary that the disciples should be awake, that they might see the real glory of Christ I trust they werespiritual enough to know that the splendor which they saw was not the essential glory of Christ's Godhead, for that no mancan see. Neither was it that secret spiritua1 glory which Christ always had, for that is not a sight for human eyes to behold,but for loving hearts to think of with reverent affection. But it was a special glow which was, for the time, shed upon HisHumanity and even upon the garments in which that Humanity was arrayed, so that "His raiment was white and glistening." TheApostles then saw Christ in some measure as He will be, by-and-by, and, being fully awake, they knew that it was not an illusionthat they were looking upon, but that it was real glory which streamed from the Savior's face and from every part of His mostblessed and adorable Person. We are glad to know that Christ has no fictitious honors and no empty pomp, but that there isabout Him a real glory which our opened eyes may see and which we may perceive without being fanatical or frenzied! Such aglory as we can see in the time of our quiet, calm judgment and earnest, deliberate thought, when every faculty is in fullexercise and our whole soul is in the enjoyment of the utmost degree of vigorous health. I care little for the visions thatneed night, curtains and dreams before they can be perceived! I prefer the glory which can be seen by a man when he is fullyawake and all his faculties are awakened so that he is able to discern between truth and fiction, and to detect any impositionthat may be attempted to be played upon him.
Further, these disciples were fully awake that they might perceive somewhat of the greatness of Christ's glory. Do you notenvy these three holy men who saw our Lord in the holy mount? So glorious was He that even the mountain, itself, was made"holy" wherein this transaction occurred, for so Peter called it. From that time it was as holy as Sinai, itself, where Godcame down in terrible pomp of power to proclaim His Law. Had not these Apostles been wide awake, they would not have perceivedhow truly marvelous is Christ's glory. What would not any of us give, just now, for a sight of Christ with our eyes wide awake?What must He be like who is the very center of Heaven's glory? All the grandeur of man is but external, but there is aboutChrist's very face a beauty of character which continually shines out-the luster of Deity which gleams through His Humanityso that to see Him as He is must be the fairest sight in the whole universe! To behold Him but for a momentmust be the mostdazzling vision that ever fell to the lot of men! Did you ever hear dying men and women talk about Him when they have begunto see Him? What strange words sometimes drop from their lips just as they are departing this life-giving us just a hint asto how grand He must be whose glory the Apostles saw when they were with Him on the holy mount!
One thing which they were fully awake to see was this, the singularity of the glory. If you read the text, you will noticethat when they were awake, "they saw His glory"-and the glory of Moses and Elijah? Oh, no! Not at all. But did they not seeMoses and Elijah? Yes, but mark how the text sinks, as it were, when it speaks of them-"They saw His glory and the two menthat stood with Him." There is nothing about any glory being around or upon them-they are nothing but "the two men that stoodwith Him." He is fairer than the children of men, greater than Moses and greater than Elijah, mighty as both of them were!I think that we never truly see Christ until we behold Him all alone-as we never see the sun and the stars at the same time.If you once see the sun flooding the sky with its glow, you will find that the stars have disappeared. The Apostles saw thegreatest of the Prophets and the great law-giver, after whom there was never the like till Christ Himself came-yet the Inspiredrecord concerning the event is, "They saw His glory and the two men that stood with Him." May you never see any earthly representativesof the Church of God in any higher place than this! In the Church and in all its ministers, may you see His glory and themen that stand with Him. And when you look upon those whose feet are beautiful because they proclaim the Gospel of Christ,yet may you only see His glory and the men that stand with Him to speak in His name!
The Apostles needed to be wide awake to discern this difference and so do we, for many, nowadays, seem to have no more respectfor Christ than they have for His disciples. I know that there are some who think more of a dogma that was promulgated byCalvin, because it is Calvin's, than they do of that which Christ has preached because it is Christ's! And there are somewho will refer everything they believe to "The Minutes of Conference," or the sayings of Mr. Wesley, but some of the sayingsof Christ do not seem to have as much weight with them. As for us, I trust that we may always see the true and noble men whostand with Christ, but, first of all, may we see His glory because Christ has awakened us out of that sinful sleep in whichwe make no distinction between the Master and the servant! Happy are we if He has taught us that the greatest of His servantsis not worthy to unloose the laces of His shoes!
So much, then, upon the necessity for these three men being fully awake.
II. Now, Brothers and Sisters, let me speak to you upon the second part of our subject which is that IT IS NECESSARY FOR US,ALSO, TO BE AWAKE IF WE ARE TO SEE CHRIST'S GLORY.
We have not dreamt our religion. It has not come to us as a vision of the night, but when we were fully awake, we saw Christ'sglory. We have seen His glory when we have been awake without weariness, awake without pain, awake without losses, awake withoutfears and trembling. In our coolest moments, when there was the least likelihood of our being deceived, we have seen His gloryas our Savior, our Helper, our Keeper, our All-in-All. Set that fact down, then, and stand to it before the face of everyman who dares to speak a word against Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, that just as truly as "when they were awake, theysaw His glory," so have we seen it in our most wakeful and calm and quiet moments!
But, dear Friends, let me impress upon your minds the truth that, in order to see the glory of Christ, it is necessary thatwe should be fully awake. Are we fully awake? Is there a man among us who has even one eye wide open? Is there not a cornerof it still sealed? Are our mental and spiritual faculties really quickened to the utmost, or are we not still, to a largeextent, as dreamers compared with what we ought to be in the Presence of Christ? Come now, Brother, are your highest powersthoroughly awakened? I believe that it was so with Peter, James and John, and that what little spiritual faculty they thenpossessed-for they were then but babes in Grace-was fully awakened to learn all that could be learned from their Lord andMaster in that mysterious manifestation of His glory. Are we in such a condition as that? There are many things that tendto make the soul go off into sleep, so let us bestir ourselves, for, unless all our powers of mind and heart are fixed uponour Lord, we shall not fully behold His glory. And if ever there was a sight that demanded and deserved all a man's powersof vision, it is the sight of the glorious Savior who stooped to die for us and who now is at the Fathers right hand intercedingfor us! When you hear the Gospel, hear it with both your ears and with your whole heart and soul! When you are present inthe assembly of the saints, be really there-do not come, as some men do, leaving their real selves at home or at their placeof business. They sit here and we think that they are here, but they are not! Their thoughts are far away over the seas, orin their shops, even when the preacher is proclaiming the glorious Gospel of the blessed God! You know that it is so withmany, but we cannot expect to have a clear sight of Christ until we are fully awake as these three Apostles were upon themountain.
But to what shall we be awake? Well, first, it is a good thing to be awake to our present condition and circumstances. Brothers,Sisters, you would be in Hell within an hour if God did not keep you from it by His Grace. You who think you know Him bestneed constant supplies of His Grace, else you would fall into the most sorrowful condition. You are dependent upon Him everyinstant and for everything-for consistency of life, for the smallest grain of faith, for hope, for love, for peace, for joy,for steadfastness, for courage, for everything! Now, dear Friend, are you fully awake to that fact? Do any of us really feelhow weak we are? How sinful we are? What floods of depravity there are pent up within us ready to burst out at any moment?Do we realize what terrible volcanic fires are hidden within our thoughts, as if the fury of Gehenna had entered our nature?And who alone can save us and who does save us? Brothers and Sisters, when you are thoroughly awake to your dangers, to yourneeds, to your weaknesses, then you will see Christ's glory! He is never rightly valued until we see ourselves to be utterlyvalueless! Low thoughts of self make high thoughts of Christ. Lord, awake us to know what we are, for then shall we beginto see the glories of Your Son!
We must also be thoroughly awake to the mercies that we are constantly receiving. Thousands of blessings come to us when weare sound asleep in our beds and, oftentimes, we know nothing of many favors that come to us in broad day-light-we are asleep,as it were, concerning them. Think, dear Christian people, of your election! Think of your redemption! Think of your effectualcalling, of your cleansing by the precious blood! Think of your washing by the Spirit with water by the Word! Think how youhave been held up, supplied, educated, comforted, strengthened! Think of what yet remains for you of peace and joy in thislife and of the abundant entrance into the everlasting Kingdom of your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Let your mind contemplateall the mercies that are sure to come to you-and bless the Lord for them even before they come, as faith reckons them to bealready here. When you are awake to all these mercies, then you will see your Lord's glory. All these blessings will makeyou see what a glorious Savior-what an infinitely gracious Lord He is to you! Father of Mercies, wake us up to a sense ofYour mercies, that we may see the glory of Jesus in them
And, dear Friends, we ought also to be awake to all manner of holy exercises. For instance, when we are awake to prayer, thenwe see Christ's glory. Often what are our prayers? At morning and night a few hurried sentences, when we are either half-asleepor scarcely awake. I mean that, at night, we are ready to go to sleep over our devotions and we nod even while we pray. Andin the morning, when we get up, we have hardly time, through the demands of business, to spend a proper time in fellowshipwith our Lord. I bless God for our Prayer Meetings, for there is much that is good in them. But do we, even there, pray aswe should? Those who speak for us are often graciously helped, but are not those of us who sit silent and who should be prayingto God, often thinking of a thousand things instead of our supplications? We cannot expect to meet with Christ while we arein prayer unless we are wide awake! Then think of our singing. Praise is a blessed way of getting near to Christ, but sometimespeople sing mechanically, as if they were wound up, like the old-fashioned organs that ground out a tune with painful regularity-thepoor pipes knowing nothing, of course, about the sense or the meaning of the music-for there was no living hand to touch thekeys. Yet we sometimes sing like that-
"Hosannahs languish on our tongues,
And our devotion dies." But, oh, when we are thoroughly awake in our singing, then are we able to-
"Behold the glories of the Lamb
Amidst His Father's Throne"-
and then we also-
"Prepare new honors for His name, And songs before unknown."
Many of us are coming presently to the Table of our Lord-what will happen if we come there half-awake? Well, we shall notsee the glory of Christ in His ordinance! There will be bread and there will be wine, but, to us, there will be nothing more,no body of Christ, no blood of Christ, to be our spiritual meat and drink. The Master will not come and sit down with a companyof nodding disciples, all fast asleep around the Table which is the special memorial of His great love to us. "When they wereawake, they saw His glory." And it must be the same with us, also.
Now I want to press this thought home a little more closely. Brothers and Sisters, if we are fully awake to holy service,then we shall see the glory of Christ. Those among you who live to win souls for Christ, whose soul is all on fire to tryand carry the Gospel into some place where as yet it is not known, are certain to see the glory of Christ. While you serveHim, you shall see His face as they do who are with Him in Heaven! I have read a great many biographies of men and women whowere full of doubts and fears, but when I have been reading about a man who was full of sacred zeal, one who was wholly consecratedto the service of his Savior, I have found very little about his doubts and fears. Those two seraphic men, Whitefield andWesley, seemed to have no time for depression of spirits. They were always about their Master's business. They flashed throughthe earth like flames of fire! They seemed to be so girt about by God with His strength that they rode upon the whirlwindand, consequently, as a rule, they enjoyed the Presence of their Lord and were full of holy delight in Him.
So I believe it will be with those of us who addict ourselves to our Master's service with all our might. If you are doingnothing for Christ, you cannot expect to have His Presence and blessing. But if you are serving Him with all your heart, notfrom the low motive that you may win something by it, but entirely out of love to Him, then will He come and manifest Himselfto you as He does not unto the world! Some Christians walk so slowly that sin easily overtakes them, while Christ goes farbefore them, for He always walks a good honest pace and likes not the sluggard's crawl. And some professors seldom get beyondthat pace, so they see but little of Him whom they call Master. If they were awake-awake to His service-then they would seeHis glory!
But above all, dear Friends, we must be awake with regard to our Lord Himself. Oh, that our hearts were fully awake to Hislove! He says to each Believer, "I have loved you with an everlasting love." Does our wakeful heart reply, "Yes, Lord, thatYou have"? Are we awake to remember all that He did by way of love even to the death for us? Are we so awake as to have continuallybefore us His Divine and Human Person-His blessed condescending life-His wondrous atoning death? Are we wide awake enoughawake to know that He is with us now? Do you not think that we are often like the disciples who saw Jesus standing by thesea and knew not that it was Jesus? He comes to us in the way of sickness, in the way of bereavement, in the way of heart-searching!We do not know that it is Jesus, yet it is. Our eyes are blinded because of our sleeping! If we were awake, we would soonperceive His glory. O blessed Savior, by Your Cross
and passion, by Your glorious Resurrection and Ascension, awaken all our spirits to perceive that You are not far from anyone of Your people and that Your Word is still true, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." III. I mustnot keep you much longer, but I want to say that THIS DOCTRINE OF THE NECESSITY OF OUR
WAKEFULNESS IN ORDER THAT WE MAY SEE THE GLORY OF CHRIST, THROWS A LIGHT ON SEVERAL THINGS.
First, it shows us why some see so little of the glory of Christ ' 'Ah," says one, "I used to see it. I could not get througha sermon without being moved at the thought of my Savior suffering for me, and rising for me. But now I do not seem to getany good out of all the services I attend." Whose fault is that? It is not His, for He is unchanged. Is it mine? Perhaps soand yet, since others see him, surely the blame cannot be allmine. Is it not your fault, Friend? You are not as wide awakeas you used to be! It is a curious thing when a man says, "I do not knew how it is that I cannot see as I used to." Why, hehas not got his eyes open! Foolish man, let him awaken himself and when he is thoroughly awake, then his eyes will be as goodas ever and he will see as much of his Lord's glory as he used to! Old age has not come upon you yet, my Brother, my Sister,though you sorrowfully sing-
"Where is the blessedness I knew
When first I saw the Lord?" Let me alter one line of the hymn and then you may sing-
"Where is the wakefulness I knew,
When first I saw the Lord?"
When you first joined the Church, you were all alive! Every power of your being was full of zeal and earnestness. Do you recollecthow you stood in the aisle and never seemed to get tired? You wished that the preacher would keep on for another half-hour.You remember how you could walk several miles to the service, then, and when the minister said, "I think you live too faraway to worship with us," you replied, "Oh, no, Sir! The distance is nothing when I get such food for my soul as I find here.I am glad of the walk. It does me good." Now you write a little note to say that you live so far off that you cannot oftencome to the services. It also happens that you live far from every other place of worship, too, so you begin to stay awayfrom the House of God-and then do you wonder that you feel no power and no delight in your Lord? Of course you do not, foryou are sound asleep! When you awake again, you will see Christ's glory. Oh, for wakeful piety, earnest religion-and plentyof it-no mere sprinkling of Grace, but a thorough immersion into the very depths of it! May the Lord, in His mercy, causeyou to be filled with all the fullness of God, by the power of His Spirit, till you shall be carried right away into a holylife that shall write over the natural life of your manhood, "I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me."
Next, does not this fact explain why, in trials, we often get our sweetest fellowship with Christ? If I might mark out thehappiest periods of my life, I would not choose those in which outward mercies have been multiplied and success has followedsuccess. But I think that I would especially note those times when abuse followed abuse, when I could hardly say a word withoutits being misrepresented and something horrible being made out of things which were as good as good could be-when lies flewabout me as bullets whistle round the warrior's ears in the midst of the battle! Then it was that I kept close to Christ andlived on Him, alone, and I was among the happiest of the happy! When the dog barks, then the people of the household wakeup and the burglars will not be likely to get in! And, sometimes, our troubles are the very best things that can happen tous because they wake us up and drive Satan away and make us fit us to see Christ's glory! We got into a careless, drowsy conditionwhen we were rich and increased in goods-and then we went to sleep. So our Master came and pulled the bed from under us andmade us feel the cold-then we woke up and found that Christ was close beside us, and our heart was glad. Thus, afflictionor trial is often a blessed means of Grace because it wakes us up so that we see Christ's glory.
This fact also explains why dying saints often declare that they have such blessed sights of Christ. Is it not because, asthey die, they really begin to live? They shake off the dull encumbrance of this house of clay and they get into a clearerlight, and so they truly live. They wake up when they die! All their lifetime their business engagements or other cares occupiedtheir thoughts. But now they have done with business, with care and they begin to awake, for the morning comes-the blessed,everlasting morning that shall never know an eventide-and they awake and see the glory of their Lord, and we, who sit by theirbedside, are often amazed! We cannot understand what they describe, for we are the sleeping ones, and they are the awakenedones, waking up to see Christ's glory!
But suppose that I were to take my text for just a minute and project it a little way into the future? We shall soon fallasleep, Brothers and Sisters. Some of the older ones among us will certainly do so! Others of us very probablywill do so,and all of us, unless the Lord shall come first, shall soon fall into that last quiet slumber which we call death. But, whata awakening there will be, first of our soul, when we shall see our Lord as He is! What must the first five minutes in Heavenbe if there are any minutes where time is swallowed up in eternity? What must be the joy when, for the first time, we enterthat land where "they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God gives them light"? When we shall see thesaints in Heaven, I suppose that we shall not say much about them. They will be like Moses and Elijah, "the two men that stoodwith Him." But, oh, when we shall get our first glimpse of Jesus on His Throne, that will be a ravishing sight beyond allconception! And then, when the next awakening comes, when the trumpet sounds its mighty blast, and these poor limbs ariseout of their beds of clay, when we are awake, we shall see His glory! Then shall we be satisfied, when we awake in His likeness!And then shall His prayer be answered, "Father, I will that they, also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, thatthey may behold My glory."
Well, Beloved, be content to go to bed when there is such an awakening in store for you! Learn to die every day. Regard yourbed as a tomb and every time you give yourself up to unconsciousness, and the image of death is upon you, be practicing theart of dying, so that when, for the last time, you must go upstairs and lie down once again, it may be very, very sweet tofeel, "I shall awake in the morning, the everlasting morning, when all these shadows of this night of grief and toil shalleternally have fled away! When I am awake, I shall see His glory!"
The Lord grant to you and to me, dear Friends, to know all the bliss of awakening to behold His glory! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: MATTHEW17:1-5.
[Mr. SPURGEON does not appear to have commented on the chapter read before he preached the foregoing Sermon. It has, therefore,been decided to insert his exposition of the parallel passage in Matthew, as he wrote it for The Gospel of the Kingdom. Thiswill enable his Sermon readers, who do not possess his last literary work, to judge as to the contents of the volume uponwhich he was at workjust eight years ago, within a few days of receiving the call Home. It is one of the most precious ofthe many memorials of the "promoted" Pastor.]
Verses 1, 2. And after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, his brother, and led them up on a high mountain, and wastransfigured before them: and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light. Were these "six days"a week's quiet interval in which our Lord prepared Himself for the amazing transaction upon the "high mountain"? Did the littlecompany of three know from one Sabbath to another that such an amazing joy awaited them? The three were elect out of the elect,and favored to see what no one else in all the world might behold. Doubtless our Lord had reasons for His choice, as He hasfor every choice He makes, but He does not unveil them to us. The same three beheld the agony in the Garden. Perhaps the firstsight was necessary to sustain their faith under the second. The name of the "high mountain" can never be known, for thosewho knew the location have left no information. Tabor, if you please. Hermen, if you prefer it. No one can decide. It wasa lonely and lofty hill. While in prayer, the splendor of the Lord shone out. His face, lit up with its own inner glory, becamea sun! And all His clothes, like clouds irradiated by that sun, became white as the light, itself. "He was transfigured beforethem." He alone was the center of what they saw. It was a marvelous unveiling of the hidden Nature of the Lord Jesus. Thenwas, in one way, fulfilled the word of John- "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory." The Transfigurationoccurred but once. Special views of the glory of Christ are not enjoyed every day. Our highest joy on earth is to see Jesus.There can be no greater bliss in Heaven! And we shall be better able to endure the exceeding bliss when we have laid asidethe burden of this flesh.
3. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elijah talking with Him. Thus the Law and the Prophets, "Moses and Elijah,"communed with our Lord, "talking with Him," and entering into familiar conversation with their Lord. Saints long departedstill live! They live in their personality. They are known by their names and enjoy near access to Christ. It is a great joyto holy ones to be with Jesus. They find it Heaven to be where they can talk with Him. The
heads of former dispensations conversed with the Lord as to His decease by which a new economy would be ushered in. Aftercondescending so long to His ignorant followers, it must have been a great relief to the human soul of Jesus to talk withtwo masterminds like those of Moses and Elijah! What a sight for the Apostles, this glorious trio! They "appeared unto them,"but they, "talked with Him." The objective of the two holy ones was not to converse with Apostles, but with their Master.Although saints are seen of men, their fellowship is with Jesus
4. Then answered Peter and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here. If You will, let us make here three tabernacles;one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. The sight spoke to the three beholders, and they felt bound to answerto it. Peter must speak-"Then answered Peter." That which is uppermost comes out-"Lord, it is good for us to be here." Everybodywas of his opinion. Who would not have been? Because it was so good, he would gladly stay in this beatific state and get stillmore good from it. But he has not lost his reverence and, therefore, he would have the great ones suitably sheltered. He submitsthe proposal to Jesus. "If You will." He offers that, with his Brothers, he will plan and build shrines for the three holyones. "Let us make here three tabernacles." He does not propose to build for himself, and James, and John, but he says, "Onefor You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah." His talk sounds rather like that of a bewildered child! He wanders a little,yet his expression is a most natural one. Who would not wish to abide in such society as this? Moses, Elijah and Jesus! Whatcompany! But yet how unpractical is Peter. How selfish the one thought, "It is good for us"! What was to be done for the restof the twelve and for the other disciples, and for the wide, wide world? A sip of such bliss might be good for the three,but to continue to drink thereof might not have been really good, even for them. Peter knew not what he said. The same mightbe said of many another excited utterance of enthusiastic saints.
5. While he yet spoke, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This isMy beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. Hear Him. "While he yet spoke." Such wild talk might well be interrupted! Whata blessed interruption! We may often thank the Lord for stopping our babbling. "A bright cloud overshadowed them." It wasbright and cast a shadow. They felt that they were entering it and feared as they did so. It was a singular experience, yetwe have had it repeated in our own cases. Do we not know what it is to get shadow out of brightness and "a voice out of thecloud"? This is after the frequent manner of the Lord in dealing with His favored ones. The voice was clear and distinct.First came the Divine attestation of the Sonship of our Lord, "This is My beloved Son," and the Father's declaration of delightin Him, "in Whom I am well pleased." What happiness for us that Jehovah is well pleased in Christ and with all who are inHim! Then followed the consequent Divine requirement, "Hear Him." It is better to hear the Son of God than to see saints,or to build tabernacles. This will please the Father more than all else that love can suggest. The good pleasure of the Fatherin the Lord Jesus is a conspicuous part of His glory. The voice conveyed to the ear a greater glory than the luster of lightcould communicate through the eyes. The audible part of the Transfiguration was as wonderful as the visible!