- The Transfiguration Of Our Lord, God And Savior Jesus Christ In the third year of His preaching, the Lord Jesus often spoke to His disciples of His approaching passion, and also of His glory following His suffering on the Cross. So that His impending passion would not totally weaken His disciples, and so that no one would fall away from Him, He, the All-wise, wanted to show them a portion of His divine glory before His passion. For that reason, He took Peter, James and John with Him and went by night to Mt. Tabor, and was there transfigured before them: And His face shone as the sun and His garments became white as snow (Matthew 17:2). Moses and Elias [Elijah], the great Old Testament prophets, also appeared beside Him. Seeing this, His disciples were stunned. Peter said: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if You will, let us make here three tabernacles; one for You, one for Moses and one for Elias (Matthew 17:4). While Peter still spoke, Moses and Elias departed, and a bright cloud overshadowed the Lord and His disciples, and there came a voice from the cloud saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear Him (Matthew 17:5). Hearing the voice, the disciples fell face down on the ground as though dead, and remained that way, prostrate in fear, until the Lord came to them and said: Arise, and be not afraid (Matthew 17:7). Why did the Lord take only three disciples onto Tabor, and not all? Because Judas was not worthy to behold the divine glory of the Teacher, Whom he will betray; and the Lord did not want to leave him alone at the foot of the mountain, so that the betrayer would not, because of this, justify his betrayal. Why was our Lord transfigured on a mountain and not in a valley? So as to teach us two virtues: love of labor and godly-thoughts–for climbing to the heights requires labor, and the heights themselves represent the elevation of our thoughts to the things of God. Why was our Lord transfigured at night? Because the night is more suitable than the day for prayer and godly-thoughts; and the night, by its darkness, conceals all the beauty of the earth, and reveals the beauty of the starry heavens. Why did Moses and Elias appear? In order to destroy the Jewish fallacy that Christ was one of the prophets–Elias or Jeremiah or some other. That is why He appeared as a King, above the prophets, and that is why Moses and Elias appeared as His servants. Until then, our Lord had manifested His divine power many times to the disciples; but on Mt. Tabor He manifested His Divine Nature. This vision of His Divinity, and the hearing of the heavenly witness to His being the Son of God, must have served the disciples in the days of the Lord’s passion–in the strengthening of a steadfast faith in Him and in His final victory.
Hymn Of Praise
The Transfiguration Of Our Lord, God And Savior Jesus Christ
Where Israel defeated Sisera,
There also, did deign to go, the Heavenly King,
To pray in nightly vigils,
The glory of His Transfiguration, to manifest,
And the faith of His followers, to confirm
In His eternal victory as Victor.
There, with divine light, He shone forth,
Dispelled the thick darkness, and illuminated Tabor.
The Light, long concealed within Himself,
Which He had shed upon the world in brief flashes,
In abundant rays, now burst forth–
Joyful rays, sweet rays–
The brilliance of His humanity, to reveal to heaven,
And to reveal to earth and men the truth of His Divinity.
Let heaven, its Messenger, see;
Let the earth recognize God, the Savior.
Why did our Lord not manifest His divine glory on Tabor before all the disciples instead of before three of them? First, because He Himself gave the Law through the mouth of Moses: At the mouth of two witnesses or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established (Deuteronomy 19:15). Therefore, three witnesses are sufficient. These three witnesses represent three main virtues: Peter–Faith, for he was the first to confess his faith in Christ as the Son of God; James–Hope, for, with faith in the promise of Christ, he was the first who laid down his life for the Lord, being the first to be slain by the Jews; John–Love, for he reclined on the bosom of the Lord, and remained beneath the Cross of the Lord until the end. God is called not the God of many, but rather the God of the chosen. I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob (Exodus 3:6). God often valued a faithful man more than an entire nation. Thus, on many occasions, He wanted to destroy the entire Jewish nation, but because of the prayers of righteous Moses, He spared that nation so that it could live. God listened more to the faithful Prophet Elias than to the entire unbelieving kingdom of Ahab. Because of the prayers of one man, God saved towns and people. Thus, the sinful town of Ustiug would have been destroyed by fire and hail, had it not been saved by the prayers of the one and only righteous man in it, St. Procopius, the Fool-for-Christ (July 8).
To contemplate the providence of God, which rewarded the virtue of Ruth and Boaz (The Book of Ruth):
- How Ruth, being left a widow, remained faithful to Naomi, her aged mother- in-law, and how by her labors she fed both Naomi and herself;
- How the wealthy Boaz was merciful, and helped these two poor women;
- How Boaz and Ruth entered into marriage, from whom was born Obed, the father of Jesse, who was the father of David.
About the exaltation of the Church of God
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow into it” (Isaiah 2:2).
This prophecy pertains to the Church of Christ. Although this prophecy must have seemed mysterious to the Jews before Christ, it is completely clear for us today. The mountain, or heights, of the house of the Lord is truly established in the top of the mountains–in the heights of the heavens–for the Church of Christ is primarily sustained not by the earth, but rather by the heavens; and one part of the membership of the Church (and by now, a greater part) is to be found in heaven, while the other part is still on earth. Further, the Church of Christ is exalted above the hills–above all earthly and human greatness. Human philosophy and art, and all the cultures of people, as well as all earthly values, represent only the low hills in comparison to the infinite heights of Christ’s Church. For it was not difficult for the Church to create all of those hills; while not one of them, nor all of them together, even in the course of many thousands of years, could create the Church. Finally, the prophet says: All nations shall flow into it. Truly, up to now, into what have all the nations flowed, if not into the Church of Christ? The Temple of Jerusalem was inaccessible to the Gentiles under the penalty of death. However, the Church has called all nations on earth unto itself from the very beginning–obedient to the command of the Lord: Go ye therefore and teach all nations (Matthew 28:19). This is the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos–a vision from afar, a vision truthful and wonderful. O Wonderful Lord, we give You unceasing thanks that You have made us worthy to be the children of Your Holy and True Church, that is exalted above all the worldly heights. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.