A bright cloud overshadowed them - Or as six MSS. and Ephraim read it, a cloud of light, νεφελη φωτος ; which reading Griesbach has admitted into the text. As a bright cloud, or a cloud of light could not overshadow, or cast any kind of shade, the word επεσκιασεν should be translated, surrounded them. A cloud was frequently the symbol of the Divine presence; but such a cloud had always something very remarkable in its appearance. Ezekiel, Ezekiel 1:4, represents it as a great cloud, and a fire unfolding itself, and a brightness about it, and out of the midst thereof, as the color of amber out of the midst of the fire; and in Ezekiel 1:28, he tells us that this was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. See also Exodus 16:10; Exodus 40:33, etc.; Ezekiel 43:2, and 1 Chronicles 5:14. But it was generally in a thick, dark cloud, that God manifested himself under the law; see Exodus 19:9; Exodus 20:21. This might be designed as emblematical of the old covenant, which was but the shadow of the good things which were to come, Hebrews 10:1; and the cloud of light mentioned here, the emblem of that glorious display of God, in his Gospel, by which life and immortality were brought to light, 2 Timothy 1:10.
This is my beloved Son - Ουτος εϚιν ο υιος μου ο αγαπητος, εν ω ευδοκησα, This is my Son, the beloved one, in who I have delighted, or, been well pleased. God adds his testimony of approbation to what was spoken of the sufferings of Christ by Moses and Elijah; thus showing that the sacrificial economy of the old covenant was in itself of no worth, but as it referred to the grand atonement which Jesus was about to make; therefore he says, In him Have I delighted, (ευδοκησα ), intimating that it was in him alone, as typified by those sacrifices, that he Had delighted through the whole course of the legal administration; and that it was only in reference to the death of his Son that he accepted the offerings and oblations made to him under the old covenant. Hear Him. The disciples wished to detain Moses and Elijah that they might hear them: but God shows that the law which had been in force, and the prophets which had prophesied, until now, must all give place to Jesus; and he alone must now be attended to, as the way, the truth, and the life; for no man could now come unto the Father but through him. This voice seems also to refer to that prediction in Deuteronomy 18:15. The Lord shall raise up a Prophet like unto me: Him Shall Ye Hear. Go no more to the law, nor to the prophets, to seek for a coming Messiah; for behold he Is come! Hear and obey him, and him only.
This transfiguration must have greatly confirmed the disciples in the belief of a future state, and in the doctrine of the resurrection; they saw Moses and Elijah still Existing, though the former had been gathered to his fathers upwards of 1400 years, and the latter had been translated nearly 900.
A bright cloud overshadowed them - The word “overshadow” here means, rather, to “be diffused” or “spread” over them. It does not mean that it made a shade. A cloud was the symbol of the divine presence. Thus, God went before the Israelites in a cloudy pillar - dark by day and bright by night Exodus 14:19-20; he appeared on Mount Sinai in a cloud bright by fire Exodus 24:15-17; and a cloud, the symbol of the divine presence - called the Shechinah - dwelt continually in the most holy place in the temple, 1 Kings 8:10-11; Ezekiel 1:4; Ezekiel 10:4. 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, God had declared this. See Matthew 3:17. This was spoken to confirm the disciples; to make known to them that it was their duty to hear Christ rather than any other, and to honor him more than Moses and Elijah; and to strengthen their faith in him when they should go forth to preach the gospel after he was shamefully put to death. After this, it was impossible for them to doubt that he was truly the Son of God. See 2 Peter 1:17-18.
In the region of Caesarea Philippi, Christ was out of the reach of Herod and Caiaphas, the disciples reasoned. He had nothing to fear from the hatred of the Jews or from the power of the Romans. Why not work there, at a distance from the Pharisees? Why need He give Himself up to death? If He was to die, how was it that His kingdom was to be established so firmly that the gates of hell should not prevail against it? To the disciples this was indeed a mystery. DA 418.1
They were even now journeying along the shores of the Sea of Galilee toward the city where all their hopes were to be crushed. They dared not remonstrate with Christ, but they talked together in low, sorrowful tones in regard to what the future would be. Even amid their questionings they clung to the thought that some unforeseen circumstance might avert the doom which seemed to await their Lord. Thus they sorrowed and doubted, hoped and feared, for six long, gloomy days. DA 418.2Read in context »
Near the entrance to the garden, Jesus left all but three of the disciples, bidding them pray for themselves and for Him. With Peter, James, and John, He entered its secluded recesses. These three disciples were Christ's closest companions. They had beheld His glory on the mount of transfiguration; they had seen Moses and Elijah talking with Him; they had heard the voice from heaven; now in His great struggle, Christ desired their presence near Him. Often they had passed the night with Him in this retreat. On these occasions, after a season of watching and prayer, they would sleep undisturbed at a little distance from their Master, until He awoke them in the morning to go forth anew to labor. But now He desired them to spend the night with Him in prayer. Yet He could not bear that even they should witness the agony He was to endure. DA 686.1
“Tarry ye here,” He said, “and watch with Me.” DA 686.2
He went a little distance from them—not so far but that they could both see and hear Him—and fell prostrate upon the ground. He felt that by sin He was being separated from His Father. The gulf was so broad, so black, so deep, that His spirit shuddered before it. This agony He must not exert His divine power to escape. As man He must suffer the consequences of man's sin. As man He must endure the wrath of God against transgression. DA 686.3Read in context »
The faith of the disciples was greatly strengthened at the transfiguration, when they were permitted to behold Christ's glory and to hear the voice from heaven testifying to His divine character. God chose to give the followers of Jesus strong proof that He was the promised Messiah, that in their bitter sorrow and disappointment at His crucifixion, they would not entirely cast away their confidence. At the transfiguration the Lord sent Moses and Elijah to talk with Jesus concerning His sufferings and death. Instead of choosing angels to converse with His Son, God chose those who had themselves experienced the trials of earth. EW 162.1
Elijah had walked with God. His work had been painful and trying, for the Lord through him had reproved the sins of Israel. Elijah was a prophet of God; yet he was compelled to flee from place to place to save his life. His own nation hunted him like a wild beast that they might destroy him. But God translated Elijah. Angels bore him in glory and triumph to heaven. EW 162.2Read in context »
Some of the disciples had gained confidence to enter where Jesus was and witness His trial. They expected that He would manifest His divine power, and deliver Himself from the hands of His enemies, and punish them for their cruelty toward Him. Their hopes would rise and fall as the different scenes transpired. Sometimes they doubted, and feared that they had been deceived. But the voice heard at the mount of transfiguration, and the glory they there beheld, strengthened their faith that He was the Son of God. They called to mind the scenes which they had witnessed, the miracles which they had seen Jesus perform in healing the sick, opening the eyes of the blind, unstopping the deaf ears, rebuking and casting out devils, raising the dead to life, and even calming the wind and the sea. They could not believe that He would die. They hoped that He would yet rise in power, and with His commanding voice disperse that bloodthirsty multitude, as when He entered the temple and drove out those who were making the house of God a place of merchandise, when they fled before Him as if pursued by a company of armed soldiers. The disciples hoped that Jesus would manifest His power and convince all that He was the King of Israel. EW 171.1
Judas was filled with bitter remorse and shame at his treacherous act in betraying Jesus. And when he witnessed the abuse which the Saviour endured, he was overcome. He had loved Jesus, but had loved money more. He had not thought that Jesus would suffer Himself to be taken by the mob which he led on. He had expected Him to work a miracle, and deliver Himself from them. But when he saw the infuriated multitude in the judgment hall, thirsting for blood, he deeply felt his guilt; and while many were vehemently accusing Jesus, Judas rushed through the multitude, confessing that he had sinned in betraying innocent blood. He offered the priests the money which they had paid him, and entreated them to release Jesus, declaring that He was entirely innocent. EW 171.2
For a short time vexation and confusion kept the priests silent. They did not wish the people to know that they had hired one of the professed followers of Jesus to betray Him into their hands. Their hunting Jesus like a thief and taking Him secretly, they wished to hide. But the confession of Judas, and his haggard, guilty appearance, exposed the priests before the multitude, showing that it was hatred that had caused them to take Jesus. As Judas loudly declared Jesus to be innocent, the priests replied, “What is that to us? see thou to that.” They had Jesus in their power, and were determined to make sure of Him. Judas, overwhelmed with anguish, threw the money that he now despised at the feet of those who had hired him, and, in anguish and horror, went and hanged himself. EW 172.1Read in context »