The Transfiguration (with thoughts from Spurgeon)

“Far from my thoughts, vain world, begone!
Let my religious hours alone;
Fain would my eyes my Saviour see:
I wait a visit, Lord, from thee.
“My heart grows warm with holy fire,
And kindles with a pure desire;
Come, my dear Jesus, from above,
And feed my soul with heavenly love.”
“The transformation that the divine-human Lord underwent as he prayed (Luke 9:29) was from one standpoint a taste of things to come: it was a momentary transition from the concealing of his divine glory that marked his days on earth to the revealing of that glory when he returns and we see him as he is. It was a transition too from humanity as it is in us now to what it will be on Resurrection Day (Phil. 3:20–21).” ((J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993).

The Prior Epochs
Moses
Never was there an eye which saw “Jesus only,” until it had first seen Moses. We must first pass under the rigours of Sinai, and the terrors of the law; we must first look upon the awful countenance of that dread lawgiver, whose words are thunder, and whose speech is fire; we must be made to tremble beneath the denunciations of the divine law, and stand abashed, astonished, and amazed, whilst the thunders of the wrath of God roll over our heads; we must see Moses first, or else we shall never see “Jesus only.” We shall be trusting in our own self-righteousness, putting something with Christ,—making it Christ and self, until Moses comes in, and breaks self-righteousness into shivers, and stains self with the filth and mire of the streets. We must have the breaking down by Moses,—the smashing hand, the terrible strife that the law brings into the conscience,—or else we shall never know the sweetness of relying wholly upon Jesus and placing our confidence in him alone.

 

Elijah

We must see Elijah, or else we shall not see “Jesus only.” There are some men who have not seen Elias yet; they do not understand the prophecies. They think they perceive in the future a great progress of civilization, and they expect to see the spread of the gospel; they expect to hear of great agencies employed, of multitudes of ministers going forth to preach the Word, and of a gradual conversion of the world to the religion of Christ; but he who understands the prophets, and has seen Elias, believes not in the immediate conversion of the world, nor in universal peace; he believes in “Jesus only;” he expects that Jesus will first come; and, to him, the great hope of the future is the coming of the Son of man. “I know,” saith he, “that God shall overturn, and overturn, and overturn until he shall come whose right it is to reign. I know that empires shall totter to their bases and that the world shall reel to and fro in terror and alarm until he shall
appear whose name is Melchisedec, the King of righteousness, and the King of peace, who shall set his hand upon the floods, and his empire upon the rivers, and shall reign ‘from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.’ ” We shall not see “Jesus only,” as the world’s great Deliverer, as the sinners’ one Redeemer, as the earth’s bright Sun, as well as her Morning Star, until we have studied the prophecies, and seen how they all speak concerning Jesus, even of him who is yet to come. We shall see Moses and Elias first; and when we have seen them, their united testimony will lead us to see

“Jesus only”–The Time of Jesus

I am going to speak to you about “Jesus only,” and to show you that it must be “Jesus only” for your justification; it must be “Jesus only” for your sanctification; it must be “Jesus only” for your object in life; and it must be “Jesus only” for your hope of heaven. I.

First, it must be “Jesus only” for your justification.
It is a hard thing to stick fast by this great fundamental truth,—“Jesus only” as the rock and foundation of our salvation. Remember, Christian, that the meritorious cause of your salvation is not in the least degree dependent upon yourself; it is dependent on “Jesus only.” Your responsibility is now merged in the divine responsibility of Christ on your behalf. The Lord Jesus has covenanted for you that—
“He will present your soul,
Unblemished and complete
Before the glory of his face,
With joys divinely great.”
O, beloved! always hang your confidence where it ought to hang—on “Jesus only;” and when you find yourself full of sin and wickedness, grieve over it, but do not think that the ground of your hope is one whit the less firm for all that. When sin prevails and guilt rises, remember that, as your righteousness cannot make Christ’s righteousness any better, so your sin cannot make it any worse; and, clothed in his righteousness, though black with sin, you may, with deep repentance, yet with holy faith, cry,—“When from the dust of death I rise, To take my mansion in the skies, E’en then shall this be all my plea,
‘Jesus hath lived and died for me.’

Next, it must be “Jesus only” to sanctify us.
Keep thine eye on thy Saviour, as much in thy good works as in thy bad ones. After thy
prayers, look to the cross, as well as after thy sine: after the Lord’s supper, look to the cross, as well as after a fall. Look to the Saviour as much in almsgiving, as much in Bible-reading, as much in preaching, as much as ever thou dost in looking to him for justification; for, unless thou dost, thy sins will unman thee yet, and bring thee down again with some sad fall, to make thee
learn the truth of this motto, “Jesus only.”
III. Now, dear friends, thirdly, Let “Jesus only” be the object of your life. Oh! I pray the Holy Spirit so to enter into our hearts, and minds, and consciences, and judgments, and affections, that every idolatrous love, all affection towards everything but Christ, may be cast out of all the Lord’s family, and that they may be brought to set Jesus upon the throne of their hearts, and to utterly crush every rival. O brethren, after all, we do not love Jesus Christ much! Oh! if we saw the ocean of Christ’s love running towards us, and the streamlet of our love running towards him, what a shocking contrast it would be on our part! There is his love: I cannot see across it; it is a sea without a shore. There is his love: I cannot fathom it; the plumbline faileth. But, oh! here is our love: it is a little stream that is almost dry; the heat of worldly joys will sometimes absorb it, till the stones stand in the bed of its little brook, unwashed and dry. Oh! it is so small that, sometimes, it takes an hour to scoop up so much as a cupful of it to give to the Lord’s poor family; it will take us, perhaps, a week to get even a consciousness that we do love Christ, and
we will be singing for hours together,—
“’Tis a point I long to know, Oft it causes anxious thought;
Do I love the Lord or no?
Am I his, or am I not?”
That is because we have so little love; otherwise, we should know whether we did love him or not. If we loved him more, there would be no doubt about it; but we love him so little, that we have reason to cry, “O Jesus, fill our hearts with thy love; come and enter our souls, and reign there evermore!” I beseech you, dear friends, do not be content with the poor little paltry love you have already; ask him, who gave you that little which you have, to give you a thousand times more. Ask that your whole heart may be offered on the altar, that your whole tongue may be dedicated to God, and that your body, soul, and spirit, maybe a whole burnt-offering, holy, and acceptable unto God, presented to him as your reasonable service. “Jesus only.” Put that on your banner, and go on fighting for “Jesus only.” Strive not for sect or party. Strive not for self or family. Strive not for thine own aggrandizement or wealth, but sanctify all thou doest, sacred or secular, with this motto, “I do it for Jesus only.”

“Jesus only” is our one hope of heaven.
What do I hope to have when I die? I may answer, in the words of my text, “Jesus only.”
“Who have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” Be not beguiled with the poet’s visionary heaven: he tells you of a heaven of the intellect, a heaven of imagination. Be not carried away, like children, by any such fictitious paradise. The heaven of your heart, and the only heaven that can contain it is “Jesus only.” To be forever steeped in the ocean of his grace, to know his heart, to behold his countenance, to admire his beauties, and to be swallowed up in his glory, is the highest ambition of the believer. There is nothing in heaven that is equal to Christ; there is no flower in all the gardens of paradise that blooms so sweetly as the Rose of Sharon. There is not a gem with which the crowns of the glorified are now adorned that
glistens one half so gloriously as the eye of Christ. Oh! when shall I behold my Saviour, and wrapt in his embrace, be forever blest? So “Jesus only” is our one hope of heaven.
Now, poor Christian, you have this precious treasure, have you not? I was wondering how a man would feel if he could say that he had nothing in the world but “Jesus only.” You do not know, and I do not know. You have a pretty fair income now; you are tolerably well off, and you have good strong limbs. You can work, and earn your own living.

But now suppose a case. Suppose there is a man, somewhere on the face of the earth, who can say, “There, now, I have not a rag nor a crust; I have not in the whole world so much as would fetch a solitary half farthing; I have no health, I am as sickly as I can be; I have no fame, foul slanders have blasted my character. I have no friends; I have buried the last of my family. I have no earthly hopes, no prospects. All that I have is ‘Jesus only!’ ” Now, I can imagine, nay, I can express my firm belief, that a consciousness of the possession of Jesus would have such an overcoming effect upon the heart of this poor beggar, that he would forget his poverty, and forget his nakedness, and forget his lack of kindred, and forget his hopelessness. This one thought would swallow up all his
misery, “I have Christ; then, how can I be poor when I have him?”

But, now, there is another case which you need not suppose. Perhaps such a man is here tonight. You have a fortune, or you have money enough for your needs; you have a wife and children; you have houses, and lands, and name, and honor, and reputation. You seem to have everything; what is there that you have not got? I go into your larder,—it is well-stored; I go into your parlour,—it is well-furnished; I go into your treasury, and see your coffers; there is an abundance; your business yards and warehouses are filled with goods. The whole place is busy, from the highest room to the lowest, and a stream of wealth is pouring in upon you every day. You have everything that heart can wish, except Christ.

Now, I cannot, by any flight of imagination, think of you as a happy man. I did not need to stretch my thoughts to think of that poor penniless beggar as being happy, after all; but I cannot imagine that, if you know what it is to be without Christ, you can be a happy man. Just think a moment what will happen to you if you continue living as you now are. You will die, and your soul will be driven into hell. Within a little while, your riches will “take to themselves wings, and fly away;” your family may die, or if they do not, you will die; you cannot take your money with you. If you are buried in a gold coffin, it will not enrich you: all your lands must belong to another; somebody else’s eyes must see your fair acres; somebody else’s hands shall pluck the fruit from your trees. Think of this;
and then remember that all this while, you will be in hell,—in torments! I cannot think of you as a happy man. Go home, and take your wine, and see damnation in its dregs; go home, and walk over your farm, and see death in its clods, and damnation in its meadows; go home to your house, and climb its topmost story, and look abroad upon your estates, and see the autumn coming on; and remember that “we all do fade as a leaf,” and that, if not in Christ, our transgressions, like the wind, shall carry us away. Go home, and let the thoughts of eternal fire mingle with all you have. You have all things but Christ. Go, then, and stir up in your most joyous pleasures the prospect of eternal wrath; and if you can be happy after that, you cannot be men; you must be brute beasts.

But if you can say, “Jesus,” do not be afraid to say, “Jesus only.”
If you have a prospect of losing all, gladly give it up for Christ. If you are afraid you should not have enough, just be sure of this, that, if you have Jesus, you have enough; and remember, if the worst should come to the worst, and you were locked up in prison, without a bed to lie on, or a crust to eat, if you had Jesus with you, you might be as happy as an angel in your prison; but if you had all the wealth of India, you might be as wretched as a devil, if you had not Christ with you. Oh! treasure up the text, and make it true of yourself, “Jesus only.”
And you, poor souls, who are panting to know the way to heaven, remember, there is only one ladder that can ever take you there. The rounds of it are made by sovereign grace. That ladder is called Jesus; the foot rests on the earth, in his humanity; the top leans in heaven, on his Godhead. Poor sinner, run up the staves! Do you think you are so heavy that you will break the rounds? Oh, no! There have been some stout old sinners up that ladder before now. Many a guilty one has run up it with enough weight of sin upon his back to have crushed the heavens into hell if God had put their sin there; but the ladder has never been broken yet, and it never will be! Come to the Lord Jesus, and he will not cast thee away, for he has said, “Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.”

Invitation
F. B. Meyer wrote, “The door through which Moses and Elijah had come stood open,
and by it, our Lord might have returned. But he could never, under those circumstances,
have been the Saviour of mankind. He knew this, so he set his face toward Calvary.” Let
us set our face to Calvary. Let us set our face to his resurrection. Let us set our face to
his glory.

 

 

 

I have relied heavily on the text: C. H. Spurgeon, “‘Jesus Only.’—A Communion
Meditation,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 45 (London: Passmore
& Alabaster, 1899).

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