“In the last place, we have in these verses a remarkable testimony to Christ’s infinite superiority over all that are born of woman.
This is a point which is brought out strongly by the voice from heaven, which the disciples heard.
Peter, bewildered by the heavenly vision, and not knowing what to say, proposed to build three tabernacles, one for Christ, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.
He seemed in fact to place the law-giver and the prophet side by side with his divine Master, as if all three were equal. At once, we are told, the proposal was rebuked in a marked manner.
A cloud covered Moses and Elijah, and they were no more seen.
A voice at the same time came forth from the cloud, repeating the solemn words, made use of at our Lord’s baptism, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him.’
That voice was meant to teach Peter, that there was one there far greater than Moses or Elijah.
Moses was a faithful servant of God. Elijah was a bold witness for the truth. But Christ was far above either one or the other.
He was the Saviour to whom law and prophets were continually pointing.
He was the true Prophet, whom all were commanded to hear. (Deut. 18:15)
Moses and Elijah were great men in their day. But Peter and his companions were to remember, that in nature, dignity, and office, they were far below Christ.
He was the true sun: they were the stars depending daily on His light.
He was the root: they were the branches. He was the Master: they were the servants.
Their goodness was all derived: His was original and His own.
Let them honor Moses and the prophets, as holy men. But if they would be saved, they must take Christ alone for their Master, and glory only in Him. ‘Hear ye Him.’
Let us see in these words a striking lesson to the whole Church of Christ. There is a constant tendency in human nature to ‘hear man.’
Bishops, priests, deacons, popes, cardinals, councils, presbyterian preachers, and independent ministers, are continually exalted to a place which God never intended them to fill, and made practically to usurp the honor of Christ.
Against this tendency let us all watch, and be on our guard. Let these solemn words of the vision ever ring in our ears, ‘Hear ye Christ.’
The best of men are only men at their very best.
Patriarchs, prophets, and apostles—martyrs, fathers, reformers, puritans– all, all are sinners, who need a Saviour– holy, useful, honorable in their place—but sinners after all.
They must never be allowed to stand between us and Christ.
He alone is ‘the Son, in whom the Father is well pleased.’
He alone is sealed and appointed to give the bread of life.
He alone has the keys in His hands, ‘God over all, blessed forever.’
Let us take heed that we hear His voice, and follow Him.
Let us value all religious teaching just in proportion as it leads us to Jesus.
The sum and substance of saving religion is to ‘hear Christ.'”
–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Matthew (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1856/2012), 167-168. Ryle is commenting on Matthew 17:1-13.