Yesterday’s blog entry was an introduction the biblical aspects of the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today we look at some of the theological aspects of the Transfiguration. First let’s have the account from the Gospel of Mark.
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves; and he was transfigured before them, and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Eli’jah with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli’jah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were exceedingly afraid. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly looking around they no longer saw any one with them but Jesus only. And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of man should have risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant. And they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Eli’jah must come?” And he said to them, “Eli’jah does come first to restore all things; and how is it written of the Son of man, that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Eli’jah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.” Mark 9:2-13
Transfiguration is what theologians call a Theophany, a manifestation of God. We have Christ on Mt. Tabor, the voice of the Father proclaiming His Sonship and the Spirit in the form of the light surrounding Christ, the disciples and the mountain. It is in this feast that we see most especially the divinity of Christ. We have heard His claims, we have seen His miracles and today we see Him transfigured on the mountain. It is one of the 12 great feasts. But for all of this there is another reason the Church celebrates today as a major feast. Christ’s transfiguration prefigures our own transfiguration.
To become Christ-like again is going to take some serious work and some serious grace. This effort of both grace and works is the working out of our salvation. If the first realization is that we are disfigured, the second understanding is that in the body of Christ we can be configured to His likeness. This configuration has two very practical steps. The first step of configuration is to die and rise again with Christ through the sacrament of Baptism. The second step of configuration to become Christ-like is by what the letter to the Romans calls a renewing of our minds. The Lord Jesus Christ clarified that many sins are those of our thought life – lusting, lying, murdering on the inside. Through the grace of Baptism and the renewing of our minds through fasting, prayer, spiritual reading we might be configured to the mind of Christ.
Our hymnography teaches us all the theology we need to know for the feast. The hymns say, “He shows in Himself the beauty of the element of the first image.” Also one of the troparia for the feast says, “Thou has been transfigured, O Savior, on Mt. Tabor, indicating the transformation which shall take place at they dreadful Second Coming.” Christ’s transfiguration can cause light to shine in our souls and show us what our destiny is. The Lord Jesus became man to reconfigure disfigured people that ultimately we might be transfigured.