Matthew 17:4
(4) Lord, it is good for us to be here.--For "Lord" St. Luke has "Master;" St. Mark (giving. probably, as elsewhere, the very word uttered) "Rabbi." It is not easy to trace the thoughts that passed rapidly through the soul of the disciple in that moment of amazement. Afterwards--if we may judge from St. Mark's account (Mark 9:6), "he knew not what to answer, for they were sore afraid," or St. Luke's (Luke 9:33) "not knowing what he said"--he could hardly explain them himself. We may venture to see in the very na�vete of the words a touch of originality and unexpectedness which, as far as it goes, attests the truthfulness of the narrative. What the words seem to imply is:--(1) An abounding joy at being thus brought into a glory which fulfilled the Apostle's brightest hopes. It was, indeed, good to be thus carried, as it were, into Paradise, or the third heaven, and to hear there words which human lips might not reproduce. (2) His thoughts travelled back to the records of the Exodus, when the Lord talked with Moses in the tabernacle (Exodus 33:7-10). What if like tabernacles could now be made for those three glorious forms, that all Israel might come and gaze, and hear and worship? Would not this be a better consummation than the shame and death at Jerusalem? Would it not meet the belief of the scribes and of the people that "Elias must first come"?

Verse 4. - Then answered Peter. According to St. Luke, it was when the two Divine prophets were disappearing, or were being withdrawn from sight, that Peter spoke. Bewildered, overcome with joy and astonishment, not knowing what to say (Mark), yet in his excitement and ardour unable to keep silence, he cries to Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here; perhaps equivalent to to remain here. He includes Moses and Elias in his eager exclamation. Some commentators confine the reference to the three apostles, as if Peter meant that it was "good" that they were present in order to prepare the necessary habitations. This seems meagre and insufficient. Here were peace, seclusion, safety: might they not last? Was there any need to quit this hallowed spot at once, and lose the heavenly company with which it was blessed? If thou wilt. Even at this supreme moment, he will not set his will in opposition to his Master's. Let us make (I will make, Revised Version) here three tabernacles (σκηνάς). Booths, of branches and grass, such as were used by travellers camping out, or such as the people erected when celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles. He speaks of but three shelters, regarding only Jesus and the two prophets, and considering himself and his fellow disciples as mere servitors and attendants, for whom no such provision was needed. In his confusion he thinks that if these three remain, they must have some kind of habitation. Like a child, he would fain prolong indefinitely the joy of this great vision; and with a Jew's hankering for a conquering Messiah and the permanence of the old covenant, he desired that from that secure mountain top the laws of the kingdom might be issued, and all men might acknowledge the Christ attended and supported by the great lawgiver and prophet. Was there not also a latent hope that thus might be deferred or laid aside that departure to Jerusalem, with its calamitous consequences? But this was not to be. No answer was vouchsafed to Peter's thoughtless request.

17:1-13 Now the disciples beheld somewhat of Christ's glory, as of the only begotten of the Father. It was intended to support their faith, when they would have to witness his crucifixion; and would give them an idea of the glory prepared for them, when changed by his power and made like him. The apostles were overcome by the glorious sight. Peter thought that it was most desirable to continue there, and to go no more down to meet the sufferings of which he was so unwilling to hear. In this he knew not what he said. We are wrong, if we look for a heaven here upon earth. Whatever tabernacles we propose to make for ourselves in this world, we must always remember to ask Christ's leave. That sacrifice was not yet offered, without which the souls of sinful men could not have been saved; and important services were to be done by Peter and his brethren. While Peter spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, an emblem of the Divine presence and glory. Ever since man sinned, and heard God's voice in the garden, unusual appearances of God have been terrible to man. They fell prostrate to the earth, till Jesus encouraged them; when looking round, they beheld only their Lord as they commonly saw him. We must pass through varied experiences in our way to glory; and when we return to the world after an ordinance, it must be our care to take Christ with us, and then it may be our comfort that he is with us.Then answered Peter and said unto Jesus,.... Which was, as Luke informs us, after he, and James, and John, awoke out of sleep; for it being night when Christ was transfigured, and they weary, were overpressed, and fell asleep on the mount, as they afterwards did in the garden with him: but when they were awaked, either by the talk of the men with Christ, or by the rays of brightness and glory, which darted from them, and especially from Christ, to their great surprise; they saw the glory that was upon him, and observed the two men that were with him, who appeared also in glorious forms; whom either by revelation, or the sequel of their discourse, they knew to be Moses and Elias: and just as these were taking their leave of Christ, Peter, charmed with such objects, and with such delightful company, and pleasant conversation, he had the happiness of hearing part of, addresses himself to Christ and says,

Lord, it is good for us to be here; in this mountain, with thyself and such company; better than to be below among the throng and multitude, where nothing but misery and distress are to be seen, and noise and tumult heard; or it is better to be here, than to go to Jerusalem, and there suffer and die; the horror of which, is thought by some, still to abide on Peter's mind.

If thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles: tents, or booths, such as were made, at the feast of tabernacles, of boughs and branches of trees, to keep off heat, cold, and rains:

one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias; Luke adds, "not knowing what he said"; and Mark, "for he wist not what to say": the one representing him, as with the rapture and surprise, not himself; and the other, under the awe and dread of such majesty, as at the utmost loss what to say, agreeably to such a situation of things: not but that he knew what words he did deliver, and with what view; but he spake as a mistaken man, being ignorant of the design of this appearance; which was, not that this glory should continue, only that he should be an emblem and pledge of what was future; and besides, he was wrong in putting these two men upon an equal foot with Christ, each of them being to have a separate tabernacle as he; and he appeared to be quite out of the way, in proposing earthly tabernacles for glorified persons to dwell in, who had an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens: moreover, as to the mystical sense, Moses and Elias, the law and the prophets, were not to be considered as in distinct apartments, and separate from Christ, but as agreeing with him, and fulfilled and swallowed up in him; who only, according to the voice that followed, was to be heard and attended to, and not they, as distinct from him.

Matthew 17:3
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