Matthew 17:1-13 Part 4

The disciple Matthew has given us a description of what was seen on that “high mountain” when the Son of God was “transformed” from the “form” of man to the form of glory – the glory of which He had emptied Himself in order to be born of man.

The glorious countenance of God – the “Presence” (face) of God – had been veiled from man from the fall, as was evidenced by the veil on Moses’ face (in order that the people not see the “shining” Presence of God in his face).  But, as Paul says in Second Corinthians three, the cover has been removed from the eyes and hearts of men (except for the Jews, for a time) in this New Age in order that we might see the glorious Presence of God the Son – Who is the express image of the Father!

Here upon the “high mountain” of Israel (which according to Scripture shall cover the earth), The Messiah allows His disciples a glimpse of the New Age shortly to come when His countenance shall be unveiled to the tribes and tongues and families of the earth.  The New Covenant is a covenant of “light” to an age which has been shrouded in darkness from the brightness of the Presence of God.

From the “fall” there was darkness; from the point of his sin, man has been shrouded in darkness and veiled; from the day of his rebellion man was expelled from the presence and brightness of God; in the Garden man had fellowship and communion with God in all His glory; but after his sin man was thrown out into darkness, and then he was subject to death from coming near the Presence of God!

Israel was God’s elect son.  It was to sit upon the “high mountain” – Mt. Zion – and reflect the glory of God shining in the world.  It was to be a “garden”.  It was called “heaven and earth” – a recreation of light; the place where there was fellowship and communion with God – where His glorious Presence was manifested.

But it did not obey.  It did not believe.  Like its father Adam it remained veiled and rebellious; and, in time, it became worse than the desert wasteland surrounding it.  The Garden of God become the abode of the fallen angels – a place of blackness, a place of carnivorous birds and beasts of prey, a place of “hissing”, a city of blindness and plague, and, eventually, annihilation.

But – the Only Begotten Son of God came in the form of man; and He perfectly obeyed His Father.  And He stood upon the “high mountain” of Israel and was changed from the form of man into the form of glory.  “And His countenance shone as the sun, and His garments became white as the light….”

Our duty and privilege this morning is to turn unveiled eyes to the Word God through the apostle Matthew, and to see the glory of the Son of God.  And we must behold His glory in the light of this entire context of Scripture – as given to us in the language of Matthew.  From the Creation – to the fall; from the calling of Israel into glory – to their expulsion into darkness; to the coming of the Messiah –


“and the Light shined in darkness...”, “and John bear witness to the Light”….” 

And in the New Jerusalem there was “no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the Light thereof.  And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the Light of it… for there shall be no night there.”


This morning we want to see the progression of the Revelation of God in history – culminating in the glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is what our text is all about.  In describing the transformation of our Lord, Matthew uses the language of creation – and recreation!  His language is the same as that of Moses, in Genesis chapter one, in the universe coming into existence.  Where the apostle John says, with regard to Jesus, that without Him “nothing was made that was made,” and that He was “life, and the life was the light of men,” Moses writes “become light!”  “And there was light!”

But man fell into sin and darkness and blindness – where there is no light, and no fellowship and communion with God.  And God cast him out of His Garden and posted a flaming sword at its entrance.

But from that day God began giving every indication of adopting a people as His Own son.  And the creation of Israel is spoken of in Scripture in the language of recreation!  There is light and brightness and glory surrounding this people in the pages of the Revelation – indicating the birth of a new day!

But Israel consistently refused to reflect the glory of its Creator as the lights in the heavens did!  And while Israel continued to exhibit its darkness and blindness, God prophesied the dawn of a new day when the darkness would be destroyed, and a recreation of heaven and earth would take place.  His Only Begotten Son, in Whom there is no darkness, would be the Light of men!  And He came in the darkness, “and the darkness knew Him not.”

But the words of the New Testament are the same as those of the Old with reference to the New Creation.  Paul says (Second Corinthians four, six)


“…for God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts – the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”


The God Who commanded light to be, in the beginning, in order to manifest His Own glory, has commanded His Own glory to be seen in the face of His Son Jesus.

The decreation of the Old Israel is plainly evident in the pages of the Revelation where the sun and the moon were darkened and the stars fell from the heavens and the earth was removed.  But the Sun of righteousness has come; the Day of the Lord has dawned; the Bright and Morning Star has arisen; and the New Jerusalem…


“has no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the Light thereof.  And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the ‘light’ of it; and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it.  And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day; for there shall be no night there.

And there is a “pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.  In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river – the tree of life (which was guarded by the flaming sword), which bare twelve fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  And there shall be no more curse; but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him.  And they shall see His face; and His Name shall be in their foreheads.  And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither Light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light; and they shall reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation twenty-one)


Hear the language of recreation!  The light; and the garden; and the tree; and the River; and the communion and fellowship with God.  At the dawn of Creation Adam had all these things.  But he sinned.  And there was decreation!  Then Israel was created in light and glory.  But it sinned and refused to believe and there was decreation.  And then God created the heavens and the earth again, in Christ, and His people shall reign in the Light of the Lamb for ever; never again shall there be decreation.



“And His countenance shone as the sun, and His garments became white as the light….” 


The language of Matthew is purposeful in connecting all of the Revelation of God in history!

The two men walking to Emmaus, having spoken with Jesus, said,


“Didn’t our hearts burn within us while He talked with us, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?” 


And in the same way our hearts ought to burn within us as the glory of our Lord is opened to us from God’s Word. 


“And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us – full of grace and truth (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only Begotten of the Father).”


“And I saw a Mighty Angel come down from heaven,” says John, “clothed with a cloud; and a rainbow upon His head; and His face as it were the sun, and His feet as pillars of fire.” 


John took the book of the mystery of God from His hand and ate it.  And he writes: 


“and He said to me, ‘You must preach again before many peoples and nations and tongues and kings….’” 


So there is an eschatological connection between the glory of Christ, the New Jerusalem, and the preaching of the Gospel to the nations. For in preaching the Gospel we bring the nations face to face with the Light of men!  In the Gospel men are unveiled – and they see the glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ. 


“And His face shone as the sun….”  “… and the life was the Light of men….”  “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”


Jesus said, “I Am the Light of the world; he who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”


Listen to the prophecy of Isaiah with regard to these things.  And while you listen, hear the connection between the Creation and the Light of the Messiah.  In this passage, God the Father speaks to His Own Begotten Son – Isaiah forty-two:


“Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which comes out of it; he that gives breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them who walk therein; I the Lord have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand, and will keep You, and give you for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison… I will bring the blind by a way they knew not; I will lead them in paths they have not known; I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight.  These things will I do to them, and not forsake them.”


And in speaking of the advent of the Prince of Peace, this is how Isaiah begins it:


“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the deep darkness, upon them has the light shined.”


And just before that Light was to be born, listen to the words of prophecy that came out of the mouth of Zacharias, John the Baptist’s father, as he speaks of the coming birth of Jesus.  He says that this is the fullness of the promise of God to Abraham, and


“the dawn from on High which visits us to give Light to them who sit in darkness – in the deep darkness….”


“The dawn of Light.”  “The Dayspring from on High.”  All of this is “recreation” language.  The Messiah is the One Who comes in glory to usher in a new cosmic “Day”.

As Isaiah prophesied in chapter sixty:


“The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee; but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.  Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.”


In Revelation chapter one John describes the face of the Lord as “like the sun shining in full strength.”  The description of the mighty angel of Revelation ten likens his face to the sun.  The angel who announces the great supper of God in Revelation nineteen is described as “standing in the sun”.  The woman of Revelation twelve who gives birth to the child who is destined to rule all nations, is portrayed as “clothed with the sun”.  Jesus teaches in Matthew chapter thirteen that “the righteous will shine like sun in the Kingdom of their Father.”  And the light from heaven which Paul saw on the Damascus Road prior to his blindness is described as “brighter than the sun”.

These are all passages concerning the inauguration of the New Age – the New Cosmic Day, the New Heavens and the New Earth in which the Messiah is the Light of men.  It is a New Creation – a recreation of the heavens and the earth – closely connected to the first creation of the universe when God spoke the words:  “Become light!”  (And there was light!)  He is the light of men – of Whom it is spoken “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.”  The Creator of the universe has recreated the heavens and the earth.  And there is no need of “lights” in the heavens, for the Lamb is the Light thereof.

So the apostle Matthew uses very specific language to describe the transformation of the Lord from the form of man to the form of glory.  And now we know the reasons.  “And His countenance (His Person, His Presence) shone as the sun….”  His transformation into the form of glory was the prophetic image of the New eschatological age which was shortly to come to pass – an age in which all things would be new.

Then Matthew says,


“and His garments became white as the light.”


Now, someone might ask why, if the Lord is transformed into glory, are His clothes also changed?  And why would Matthew use such specific language, again, to describe it?  Is this just a sidelight to the fact that the Lord has imaged the New Age to come?

But let’s again be aware that there are no throw-away words here.  The description of what actually happened is extremely important to our understanding of what took place.  And Matthew has called attention to the change in form of Jesus’ garments!  Why?

Well, Israel was called “heaven and earth” by Moses in Deuteronomy thirty-two, and in many other places in Scripture.  And of the Lord Jesus, the writer of Hebrews says this:


“You, Lord, in the beginning did lay the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of your hands.  They shall perish, but You remain.  And they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture You shall fold them up, and they shall be changed!”


That’s a direct quote from Psalm one hundred two, verses twenty-five, and twenty-six.

The old heavens and earth are described as a “garment” by the Scriptures!  And so the new is also seen as a garment – the garment of salvation for the world! – the New eon!  Here’s the prophecy of Isaiah again, chapter sixty-one:


“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation; He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness as a bride-groom bedecks Himself with ornamentation….”


And, as we are already aware, the Lord Himself said,


“no man sews a piece of new cloth on an old garment; else the new piece that filled it up takes away from the old, and the rent is made worse.”


Jesus also, in the parable of the marriage of the King’s son, says that the king sent out servants to bid many to come to the wedding.  But when they came, there was a man there who did not have on the appropriate garment!  It was the “old” garment and not the “new” wedding-garment!

You see, Jesus’ garments became “white as the light” because the “New” had arrived!  So the old is no longer worth patching!  Israel had on a “world garment” – and it was old and inappropriate.  And they came to the wedding feast without the world garment of the New Heavens and the New Earth!  And, as a result, they were cast out into everlasting darkness!  Jesus’ garments were changed from the old to the New!

And they were as “white as the light”.  White is the color of the New.  In Matthew twenty-eight we see the brilliant white of the angels’ garments at the tomb of Jesus.  And the two men who addressed the disciples after Jesus’ ascension into the cloud were in brilliant white!  And Jesus said to the Church in Sardis,


“he that overcomes shall be clothed in white garments.” 


And in Revelation chapter four, around God’s throne, the twenty-four elders were clothed in white garments.  In Revelation seven, the great multitude which stood around the Lamb were those who


“came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood the Lamb.”


In Daniel chapter seven there is a description of the Ancient of Days!


“I beheld till the thrones (of the four beasts) were cast down, and the Ancient of Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool; His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire.”


And now, listen to the description of John’s vision of the ascended Christ in Revelation chapter one:


“…and in the midst of the seven candlesticks – One like unto the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the chest with a golden girdle.  His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire….”


The fifth Kingdom, the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ is portrayed in “white” – brilliant fiery white!

The old “world-garment” is pictured in the Scriptures as passing away.  The sun turns dark and the moon changes to blood-red.  The sun ceases to shine on the Day of Yahveh.  The end-time for the old is darkness – black!  And the world-garment is now the new – the Kingdom of Christ – which is described like this in Isaiah chapter thirty:


“Moreover, the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun; and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold… in the Day that the Lord binds up the breach of His people, and heals the stroke of their wound.”


So Jesus’ garments were changed because the old world-garment was ready to be thrown away.  The new one was the one appropriate for the wedding; and that’s the one you have to have on in order to be acceptably dressed at the wedding.  It is not soiled; it is dipped in blood and made white as the light.  That’s the new world-garment.


“Who are these dressed in white robes?” John asks.  “These are the ones who have washed their garments and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” said the angel…”they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.  For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”


The glory of our ascended Lord is pictured here in graphic language by the apostle; language which must move us and motivate us to love Him and give Him praise and honor; for He is the Author of a New Covenant, and the Creator of the New Heavens and the New Earth.  He is the Life and the Light of men Who has removed our veil so that we might see the Glory of God in His face.

He was transformed into glory; and He changed His garment so that we might be made New Creations.  “And His countenance shone as the sun, and His garments became white as the Light.”