Let us look a little at this scripture, as showing what our joy in the glory will consist of. We have the warrant of 2 Peter 1:16 for saying that the scene represents to us the power of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. And this is what we wait for. Our souls are not in a healthy state unless we are waiting for God’s Son from heaven. The church is not regulated in its hopes by the word and Spirit of God, unless it is looking for Him as a Saviour from heaven (Phil. 3) And this passage, as disclosing to us specially what will be our portion when He comes, is important to us in this respect. There are many other things in the passage, such as the mutual relations of the earthly and the heavenly people in the kingdom. These it may be very instructive to consider; but this is not our present purpose, which is to consider what light is here afforded on the nature of that joy which we shall inherit at and from the coming of the Lord. Other scriptures, such as the promises to those who overcome in Revelation 2-3, and the description of the heavenly city in Revelation 21-22, give us instructions on the same subject; but let us now particularly look at the scene on the holy mount.
"And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering." It was when Jesus was in the acknowledgement of dependence, "as he prayed" that this change took place. This, then, is the first thing we have here, a change such as will pass upon the living saints when Jesus comes.
"And behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias." They were with Him. And this will be our joy; we shall be with Jesus. In 1 Thessalonians 4, after stating the order in which the resurrection of the sleeping, and the change of the living, saints will take place, and that we shall both be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air, all that the apostle says as to what shall ensue is, "and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
But in this passage there is not only the being with Christ, but there is also familiar intercourse with Him. "There talked with him two men." It is not that He talked with them, though this was no doubt true; but this might have been, and they be at a distance. But when we read that they talked with Him we get the idea of the most free and familiar intercourse. Peter and the others knew what it was to have such intercourse with Jesus in humiliation; and what joy must it have been to have the proof that such intercourse with Him would be enjoyed in glory!
And then it is said by Luke that "they appeared in glory." But this is secondary to what we have been considering. We are told that they were with Him, and then that they appeared in glory. They share in the same glory as that in which He manifests. And so as to us: "When Christ who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory. The glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, an though in me, that they may be perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as though hast loved me."
But there is another thing still. We are not only told that they were with Him, they talked with Him, and appeared in glory with Him, but we are also privileged to know the subject of their conversation.
They "spake of his decease which he should accomplish in Jerusalem." It was the cross which was the theme of their conversation in the glory, the suffering of Christ which He had to accomplish in Jerusalem. And surely this will be our joy through eternity, when in glory with Christ, to dwell upon this theme, His decease accomplished at Jerusalem.
We next read that Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep. It shews us what the flesh is in the presence of the glory of God. Peter made a great mistake; but I pass on.
"While he thus spake, there came a cloud and overshadowed them; and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the loud, saying, This is my beloved Son; hear him." Peter tells us that this voice came from the excellent glory. "For he received from God the Father honour 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." Now Peter and the others had entered into the cloud; and thus we get the wonderful fact that in the glory, from which the voice comes, saints are privileged to stand, and there, in that glory, share the delight of the Father in His beloved Son. Not only are we called to the fellowship of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, we are called to have fellowship with the Father. We are admitted of God the Father to partake of His satisfaction in His beloved Son.
"And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone." The vision all gone, the cloud, the voice, the glory, Moses and Elias; but Jesus was left, and they were left to go on their way with Jesus, knowing Him now in the light of those scenes of glory which they had beheld. And this is the use to us of those vivid apprehensions of spiritual things which we may sometimes realize. It is not that we can be always enjoying them and nothing else. But when for the season they have passed away, like this vision on the holy mount, they leave us alone with Jesus, to pursue the path of our pilgrimage with Him in spirit now, and with Him in the light and power of that deepened acquaintance with Him, and fellowship of the Father’s joy in Him, that we have got on the mount; and thus to wait for the moment of His return, when all this, and more than our hearts can think of, shall be fulfilled to us for ever.