The Transfiguration -- By: Everett F. Harrison

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 093:371 (Jul 1936)
Article: The Transfiguration
Author: Everett F. Harrison

The Transfiguration

Everett F. Harrison

In his Life of Christ, James Stalker divides the ministry of Jesus into three periods, the year of obscurity, the year of popularity, and the year of opposition. The analysis is helpful, but it is limited to Jesus’ relationship to the nation. There is another side, His relationship to the eternal purpose that brought Him from glory. This aspect of things is indicated by the divine voice that came from heaven on three occasions. The first time, at the baptism of Jesus, the voice was addressed to the throng assembled at the Jordan. They represented the nation, and God was taking this opportunity to introduce His son, so to speak, and commend Him to the people. From that very hour the ministry of Jesus took on its public aspect. He was launched upon His work. Within a short time, however, it was apparent that the nation would not receive the Lord, preferring to follow the leadership of the jealous Pharisees. In view of this, Jesus withdrew from public life for a time and concentrated upon His own company, telling them plainly that before Him lay death at the hands of the rulers in Jerusalem. This crisis came at Caesarea-Philippi. Matthew puts in a significant word at this juncture. ”From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.” From this time on, then, Jesus was more concerned with teaching His disciples than with His wider public ministry. To mark this turn of events, we have the voice from heaven a second time. On the transfiguration mount, just a few days after the epochal conversation at Caesarea-Philippi, God spoke, not to the nation this time, but to representatives of the apostolic band. The second phase of ministry receives recognition in

this striking way. The third occurrence of the voice finds Jesus in Jerusalem, surrounded by a crowd, including the disciples. Both groups are present which had the heavenly message on other occasions, but this time the voice is addressed to the Son. Jesus had just uttered a prayer. “Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name.” The answering word from the Father gave assurance of that glorification.

To summarize, in these three incidents we catch the emphasis that the Spirit of God desires to impart, presenting Jesus first as Teacher and Wonder-worker in full view of the nation: then as the Master holding intimate fellowship with His own, making painful disclosures to them of the future, only to be misunderstood; finally, God’s direct address to the Son, since the issue now is one between the Chris...

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