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because they did hope to gain something from him. Their worldly-mindedness was shewn on many occasions, of which a very
few instances will serve. We find them frequently disputing among themselves, which of them should be the greatest; we find Peter telling his Lord' that he and his companions had forsaken all and followed him, and demanding of him what they should have therefore. And it is another occurrence of a similar nature, and betraying a similar spirit, in the same apostle, which will lead us to what we believe was the occasion of our Lord's transfiguration.
We will trace this story from its commencement, as related by the three Evangelists? who have recorded it.
Our Saviour had, at the time just preceding this miracle, been exercising the public offices of his ministry for a considerable period.
His name was well known, the fame of the wonders wrought
Matt. xix. 27. * Matt. xvi and xvii. Mark viij. and ix. Luke ix.
by him was noised abroad, his discourses were listened to by multitudes, and his character was the subject of discussion and investigation. This must, of course, have been well known to our Lord. Being, therefore, with his disciples in the country of Cæsarea Philippi, he began to ask them, “ Whom do men say that I am ?" We may well believe that the Searcher of hearts did not put this question out of mere curiosity, but that he might have an opportunity of accepting and acknowledging that confession of his real character which he immediately received from them. Their answer was, “Some say that thou art John the Baptist, some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” But Jesus proceeded with the further interrogation, “Whom do ye say that I am ?”—Ye, my disciples, ye who have been with me from the beginning ? Simon Peter, who appears always to have been forward in his zeal, immediately replied, in the name of the others, and in his own, “ Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
This confession of him, inasmuch as it was his due, was acceptable to our Lord, and obtained from him the emphatic benediction, “ Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” By this intimation did our Lord declare his mission, proclaim the stability of his religion, and give commission to Peter and to his companions, to unlock the gates of religious knowledge both to the Jews and to the Gentiles.
But, for the present, he charged them “to tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.” For what immediately follows shews how little they, as yet, were capable of becoming instructors.
For having accepted from them their confession of him as the Messiah, having heard from their own mouths that they believed him to be the Son of the living God, he thought them now qualified to receive some information respecting those things which it was necessary for them to know, on the subject of his approaching death and sufferings, of which, as yet, they had received no intelligence. “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.” And how was this news received by them? Why, with absolute incredulity. They had acknowledged him to be the Christ, but now they would not believe his word. They had declared him to be the Son of God, but now they turn away with aversion from what he told them. Peter, probably elated with the commendations just obtained, was again the speaker, and seems to have discharged his office with some degree of petulance and presumption. “ Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord, this shall not be unto thee.” Which conduct of his, at once so arrogant and unbecoming, drew from his offended Master the severe reproof, “Get thee hence, Satan, thou art an offence unto me; for thou savourest not the things which be of God, but those that be of men.”
But displeased, and justly displeased as he was, yet did he know that this conduct in his disciples arose more from ignorance and weakness than from deliberate intention, and that they were rather to be pitied for their want of apprehension than to be too much subdued by his censure. In order, therefore, to prove to them his continued and still abiding interest in their welfare, he proceeded to shew them, both by words and by actions, how very inferior this world and all its concerns was to him, and how little any earthly calamities or sufferings could really degrade him. His words which follow immediately upon his speech to Peter are