Transfiguring Into Jesus
Luke 9.28-36 (CEB)
About eight days after Jesus said these things, he took Peter, John, and James, and went up on a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes flashed white like lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, were talking with him. They were clothed with heavenly splendor and spoke about Jesus’ departure, which he would achieve in Jerusalem. Peter and those with him were almost overcome by sleep, but they managed to stay awake and saw his glory as well as the two men with him.
As the two men were about to leave Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it’s good that we’re here. We should construct three shrines: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—but he didn’t know what he was saying. Peter was still speaking when a cloud overshadowed them. As they entered the cloud, they were overcome with awe.
Then a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, my chosen one. Listen to him!” Even as the voice spoke, Jesus was found alone. They were speechless and at the time told no one what they had seen.
The story of Jesus’ transfiguration—of his physical change into a pure being of light, anointed in the way of Moses and Elijah—is for me the most profound of any biblical account.
It is this story, more than any other, that points to Jesus’ true nature as perfect, loving, God energy. Transfiguration—a complete and utter change of being—is the point of the Christian story. Others will tell you Christianity is about sin, redemption, and the necessary death of Jesus on the cross. Theirs is a Roman interpretation of Jesus that turns him into a supernatural demigod. I prefer the more Jewish, more mystical approach to the Bible in general, and the Second Testament in particular.
Throughout the Second Testament I read about Jesus and see a beautiful, peaceful, loving, perfectly in-tune manifestation of God. Importantly, Jesus was conscious of his God-bearing nature. He understood the divinity energizing his humanity. We think of Jesus as fully human and fully divine. It’s important to remember that he also knew he was fully human and fully divine, and that he wants us to know that same intimate relationship of Oneness with God.
Today we might say Jesus was aware of his quantum nature, the sub-molecular energy that created and sustained him. Like him, we exist in a state of quantum superposition, simultaneously human and divine.
Jesus’ intimate knowledge of himself as God, the entangling nature and constructing mechanism of reality, compelled him, as it should anyone serious about following him, to act in astoundingly counter-cultural ways. Remember, Jesus taught students who were expected to not only understand his lessons but also to become just like him. In his day, if you were a rabbi’s student—a disciple—you didn’t just learn from your master, you strived to become your master. In fact, if you really wanted to make your master proud, you strived to surpass your master. Jesus, like any other Rabbi of his era, would have expected his students to not only follow his teachings but to live his way of life, becoming perfectly in tune with the loving movement of God.
It’s no accident Peter, John, and James witness the transfiguration. Jesus takes them with him on purpose, to reveal to his three best students the result of letting God utterly control their lives: total transformation of mind, body and soul.
Communion with Jesus, Elijah and Moses.
Oneness with All-Being.
Many Christians have been taught that the transfiguration scene is about Jesus finally revealing his true nature to his disciples so they’ll know, without a doubt, that he is the “Son of God.” But that again is Roman theology and language (the Emperor was also referred to as “the “Son of God).” Jesus wants so much more than to merely be exalted as God’s “only” son. Rather, Jesus wants to help bring about the complete and total transformation of human civilization. He knows that starts by first transforming every one of us. And he recognizes that a change in our nature only comes from being moved more into our God state than our human state.
THAT’S what we’re after, folks. TOTAL and COMPLETE transformation. Humans are more capable of the mystical experiences that lead to the compassionate lifestyle of Jesus, and ultimately a more Utopian global civilization, than we have been allowed to believe. We’re not just flesh and blood. We are sub-molecularly entangled beings in the God stream which is the foundation of all reality.
Simply pondering the concept of more-than-physical existence leads to all sorts of amazing, intimate interactions with God. Our physical being—all physical being—is the result of an intricately interwoven dance with the unseen, yet entirely pervasive, presence of God. Our physical construct means we are the very substance of God in the flesh. Just like Jesus.
Therefore, all the things we read about Jesus, all his activities, blessings, speeches—as his disciples we also are meant to say and do the same things. We too are intended to wake up and recognize we are so much more than mere meatbags. We too are meant to transform into an entirely new being by awakening to our true being, Christ. Just like Jesus.
And I’ll tell you what, this realization—this realization that the transfiguration is the point of life—it’s frustrating. Because, while Jesus knew who he was and had the humility to let God guide him, we humans, well, let’s just say we’re in a very different place.
Some of us are just beginning to realize Jesus had something more to teach us than what we’ve been taught about him. Christianity today is evolving through a change in the way we walk with Jesus, talk about him, think about him, and understand his presence with us. We can’t rush the sort of transfiguration Jesus embodies, but we can at least start talking about the idea that instead of merely worshipping Jesus, we could instead be transfiguring into him.