Archive for the ‘Transfiguration’ Category

Short talk on the Transfiguration

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

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We have been having short talks after Liturgy recently. The homily is after the Gospel, where it belongs, and after liturgy, I try to talk about something practical (usually), trying to keep it as short as possible.

I have talked about confession, oil, bows and prostrations, etc. Sometimes I cannot help myself and must talk about theological topic.

We just celebrated the Transfiguration, and as is usual for any "extra" services, most people were not in attendance. This is a very important feast, and I think the people should be taught about it at least every year, so I gave a short talk about the Transfiguration (or combination talk and homily) yesterday.

I am trying to get organized and have a handout for the talks. The way my brain works is just to scribble stuff down Sunday morning and go with it, but I am trying to mend my ways. Sunday, there was a handout:


Transfiguration. Aug 6/19

 

  1. The story, summarized.
  2. What does this teach us about Jesus Christ?
  3. What does this teach us about ourselves?
  4. Why did it occur when it did?
  5. Why were Moses and Elias present?
  6. What other event in our Lord's life has obvious similarities to the Transfiguration?
  7. Blessing of fruit, especially grapes.
  8. OT Scripture for the Feast
  9. The most important “take home message” scripture for the feast.

 

Troparion  Tone 7

 

Thou wast transfigured on the mountain, O Christ God, / Who didst show Thy glory unto Thy disciples as far as they could bear it. / May Thine ever-existing light / shine forth also upon us sinners / through the prayers of the Theotokos. // O Bestower of light, glory be to Thee!

 

Kontakion Tone 7


On the mountain wast Thou transfigured, / and Thy disciples beheld Thy glory as far as they could bear it, O Christ God; / that when they would see Thee crucified, / they would comprehend that Thy suffering was voluntary, / and proclaim to the world that Thou art of a truth //
the Effulgence of the Father.

 

2 Peter 1:16-17 16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

 

2Pe 1:4  Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

 

 

This and other Orthodox materials are available in from:

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

·        Mailing Address: Box 37, McKinney, TX 75070

·        Rectory Phone: 972/529-2754

·        Email: seraphim@orthodox.net

·        Web Page: http://www.orthodox.net

·        Redeeming the Time Blog: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime/

 

This handout accompanies a short talk given after liturgy concerning the Transfiguration.

 

Audio: http://www.orthodox.net/catechism//feasts-of-the-lord_2010-08-23+transfiguration+after-liturgy-short-talk.mp3

 

All rights reserved.  Please use this material in any edifying reason. We ask that you contact St. Nicholas if you wish to distribute it in any way.  We grant permission to post this text, if completely intact only, including this paragraph and the URL of the text, to any electronic mailing list, church bulletin, web page or blog.

 

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Transfiguration Human nature in the Midst of the Divine Luke 9:28-36. New Text Homily.

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Transfiguration
Human nature in the Midst of the Divine
Luke 9:28-36
(The Gospel for Matins)
2008

 

http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/transfiguration-theophanes-01.jpg In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

We say today, brothers and sisters, that humanity can meet Divinity; Humanity can see Divinity; Humanity can be part of Divinity.

In the Old Testament Moses, saw the back parts of God; he was hidden in the cleft of a rock; he didn’t see that much [1]. But now, face to face, man is with God. Jesus Christ showing He is fully God, shining as the light.

Did you notice something in this historic and prophetic event? Moses and Elias, were conversing with Him, speaking of His decease: That was for the disciples to remember so that they would overwhelmed by the upcoming passion of our Lord.

 

What were Apostles doing? They were sleeping because it was late at night and they were tired. Man was in the midst of Divinity, Jesus was white as the light, shining as the sun,  and they were asleep. This indicates how easily we “sleep”, even when God is among us! We are sleepy because of our passions – O Lord, what are we missing? Divinity is right with us right now. We partake of the Holy Mysteries and Divinity is present. Wherever we go, God is with us and yet we don’t see Him.

 

They woke up, and then the cloud came, signifying the Holy Spirit, and the voice from the cloud, the Father. So this is like a Theophany just like the baptism of the Lord, declaring the Trinity, declaring God.

But then Moses and Elias saw Him and spoke with Him, and they were not frightened by the light, or the sound, or the cloud. This tells us, that we will eventually, even though at this moment our flesh is filled with sins and weakness and foolishness, we will be able to be with Divinity and not be afraid.

 

But the Apostles were not ready to be fully in the presence of Divinity. They still needed more seasoning, more training. So they were in the midst of Divinity, and for some of it they were asleep. So it is with us. We are in the midst of Divinity and we’re asleep. We’re more troubled about what’s going to happen today and tomorrow and the next day than we are about God being with us.

And of course, the Transfiguration shows us the future for us, not the future for God because all things are as one for God, the past, the future, the present. Jesus was always God. This was nothing new for Him.

This was the first time in history that man was to be able to be face to face with the Uncreated Light of God. They were afraid. They were not like Moses and Elias. It was too much for them. So it will take time for you and me to be able to be in the presence of Divinity and not be afraid.

 

And how is this? We know: to follow Christ, to become like Him. Moses and Elias were like Him, and they were comfortable around Him and at peace and not afraid.

We are trying to become like Him. And if our Lord Jesus Christ were to come to us now and shine in His Divinity, His Uncreated Light, we would be terrified because we are not ready yet. So this time of this light is getting ready, getting ready to see Christ as He is, not with the covering of humanity, but to see Him, His Humanity shining with Divinity because, after all, He is God as well as Man.

So, brothers and sisters, when you look at this story, let it give you some hope. Yes, it is a promise that we will see God.

But just see that they were frail men there on the mountain. First they were asleep and then they were afraid. Does it remind you of anybody? Reminds me of me. It should remind you of you.

But after a time what happened to those men? Their sound went forth over all the world. So it will be with us. We will be changed. But we have to live in the flesh a little bit and struggle a little bit in order to become able to see Divinity.

We see what happens when impure men see Divinity, they’re afraid. But later on, Peter spoke of this event with great affection, great longing, because he knew that he was soon going to, as he said, put off this tabernacle and be with the Lord, and he was looking forward with great expectation to seeing the Uncreated Light again, this time without fear [2].

So there’s the blueprint for our lives. Yes, the promise is there. But the promise only becomes reality for us if we live as Christians, and then we will see Divinity and not be afraid. Amen.

 

 

Luke 9:28-36 28 And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. 29 And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. 30 And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: 31 Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. 33 And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said. 34 While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. 35 And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. 36 And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2008.    

This and other Orthodox materials are available in from:

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·         Rectory Phone: 972/529-2754

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·         Web Page: http://www.orthodox.net

·         Redeeming the Time Blog: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime/

 

This homily is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/feasts-of-the-savior-transfiguration_2008-08-19.html

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/feasts-of-the-savior-transfiguration_2008-08-19.doc

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[1] Exodus 33:11-23; 34:4-6, 8, read as the second of three readings (also called “Parables”) at Vespers for the Transfiguration. Here is an excerpt: “20 And again he said: Thou canst not see my face: for man shall not see me and live. 21 And again he said: Behold there is a place with me, and thou shalt stand upon the rock. 22 And when my glory shall pass, I will set thee in a hole of the rock, and protect thee with my right hand, till I pass: 23 And I will take away my hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face thou canst not see”

[2] 2 Peter 1:10-19, read at the Liturgy on the Transfiguration.

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More Questions about the Transfiguration

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

As a portion of our Orthodox brethren are in the midst of the after feast of the Transfiguration, I thought I would make you aware of more Questions and answers about this feast that serve as a catechetical instruction:

http://www.orthodox.net/questions/transfiguration_1.html

As some are in the Dormition fast, which we will observe in a few days, it is interesting to note that today we commemorate another Dormition, The FALLING-ASLEEP (DORMITION) OF RIGHTEOUS ANNA, MOTHER OF THE MOSTHOLY MOTHER OF GOD, July 25/Aug 7

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Scripture read on Transfiguration: 10 questions 8-10

Friday, August 6th, 2010

All ten questions are at

http://www.orthodox.net/questions/transfiguration-scripture_1.html

QUESTION 8

How did Jesus' Transfiguration prepare the apostles for His subsequent crucifixion?


Much of the meaning of a particular event is revealed in the holy services, especially Vespers and Matins. This is why it is absolutely necessary for a Christian to zealously attend the Vigil service. The services, and the commentaries of the holy fathers, which have entered into the mind of the church, explain that the apostles were prepared for the crucifixion by witnessing the Transfiguration, and the "splendor of the resurrection" that it prefigured. They would soon be subjected to terrible temptations and fears, and our Savior wanted to put the knowledge of His divinity indelibly in their minds, to help them in the terrible days of his trial and death.

Kontakion of the Feast, Tone 7

On the mountain wast Thou transfigured, / and Thy disciples beheld Thy glory as far as they could bear it, O Christ God; / that when they would see Thee crucified, / they would comprehend that Thy suffering was voluntary, / and proclaim to the world that Thou art of a truth // the Effulgence of the Father.

Before Thy crucifixion, O Lord, / the mountain emulated the heavens, / and the cloud spread itself out like a tabernacle / when Thou wast transfigured and borne witness to by the Father. / There were Peter, James and John, / for they were to be with Thee also at the time of Thy betrayal, / that, beholding Thy wonders, / they might not be afraid of Thy sufferings, / which do Thou vouchsafe that we may venerate in peace, // for the sake of Thy great mercy. ( First Sticheron of the Feast for Lord I have cried, Tone 4)

Taking the disciples up upon the lofty mountain / before Thy crucifixion, O Lord, / Thou wast transfigured before them, / illumining them with effulgence of power, / desiring both in Thy love for mankind and in Thine authority / to show them the splendor of the resurrection, / which do thou vouchsafe unto us in peace, // in that Thou art merciful and lovest man-kind. (Third Sticheron of the Feast for Lord I have cried, Tone 4)


 

QUESTION 9

"But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: " (vs. 32)

Why were they heavy with sleep?


 

"Then to show that he was holden with great fear, both he and the rest, he saith, "They were heavy with sleep, and when they were awake they saw His glory;"25 meaning by deep sleep here, the deep stupor engendered in them by that vision. For as eyes are darkened by an excessive splendor, so at that time also did they feel. For it was not, I suppose, night, but day; and the exceeding greatness of the light weighed down the infirmity of their eyes." (St John Chrysostom)


 

QUESTION 10

"And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen. " (Luke 9:36)

Why did the Apostles tell nobody about this startling event?


  

Jesus ordered his three disciples to say nothing about His transfiguration:

" And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead." (Matthew 17:9)

The Lord told them to be quiet so that people would not be scandalized when they saw him on the cross. He saved this knowledge only for His three favorites, because He knew it would help them.

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Scripture read on Transfiguration: 10 questions 4-7

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

All ten questions are at

http://www.orthodox.net/questions/transfiguration-scripture_1.html

QUESTION 4

" And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. " (Luke 9:29)

What made His raiment white and glistering? What occurrence in the OT proves it is possible for our "countenance to be altered"?


 Jesus Christ was illuminated by the "uncreated light", or energies of God, which proceeded from Himself.

Moses' face was also bright after he saw the "back parts" of God. When he descended the mountain, no one among the Israelites could bear to look upon his face. He had encountered the uncreated light, and even as a mortal, was changed.

"And Moses said unto the LORD, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. {13} Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. {14} And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. {15} And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. {16} For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. {17} And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. {18} And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory. {19} And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. {20} And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. {21} And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: {22} And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: {23} And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

{34:1} And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest. {2} And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount. {3} And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount. {4} And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone. {5} And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. {6} And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, {7} Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin …

{28} And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. {29} And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. {30} And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him. {31} And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them. {32} And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai. {33} And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. " (Exodus 33:12-23,34:1-7,28-33)


 

QUESTION 5

"And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: {31} Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. " (Luke 9:20-31)

Moses and Elias conversation about events after their death proves and important truth about the dead, which a good part of those who profess to be Christians seem to not be aware of. What?


 

God is the God of the living, not the dead. The dead in Christ are still aware and can pray to God, and know of things in the material world. We ask their intercessions precisely because they can hear us, and their intercessions on our behalf are bold.


 

QUESTION 6

"And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: {31} Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. " (Luke 9:20-31)

Why did Moses and Elias appear? What does each represent?


 

Moses represented the law and Elijah the prophets. Both the law and the prophets spoke of and pointed to Christ, and were in complete agreement with Him, as their conversation on Mount Tabor shows. Their presence, together with the apostles also underscored that God is the God of the "living and the dead".

"Transfigured on the high mountain, / the Savior, having with Him His Elias-eminent disciples,/ shone forth most wondrously, / showing them forth as illumined by the loftiness of the virtues / and as ones vouchsafed divine glory. / Moses and Elijah, who spake with Christ, / showed that He hath authority over the living and the dead, / and that He is the God Who of old spake through the law and the prophets. / Of Him was the voice of the Father heard saying from the cloud of light: / "Him do ye obey, / Who through the Cross made hell captive // and granteth life everlasting to the dead!" (Lord I have cried, Tone 4)

"Moses the God-beholder and Elijah of the fiery chariot, / who traversed the heavens without being consumed,/ beholding Thee, O Christ, in the cloud at Thy Transfiguration, / bore witness to Thee / as the Creator and Fulfiller of the law and the prophets. / With them vouchsafe Thine enlightenment also unto us, O Master, // that we may hymn Thee forever." (Sticheron for "Now and Ever", Aposticha)

The Vespral OT readings provide further mystical illumination concerning the presence of Moses and Elijah. The former asked to see God face to face, and the latter heard Him in the "still small voice". Both intimately experienced the energies of God. Their experiences were a harbinger of things to come.


 

QUESTION 7

"And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: {31} Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. " (Luke 9:20-31)

Why did Moses and Elias speak of Jesus' upcoming passion? It would not be out of order to make an educated guess.


 

The Apostles were pious Jews, and also weak men who needed to be told by Jesus over and over about His upcoming passion. It was very difficult for them to believe that such a terrible thing would happen. As pious Jews, they believed in the scriptures, and revered Moses and Elias and reliable witnesses of the truth. Their prophesying about Jesus' upcoming passion must have had an effect on them, and helped prepare them for the eventual event. It also showed Jesus was in agreement with the law and the prophets.

"… Since many were thinking that Jesus, in seeming to put aside the Sabbath and transgress the law, was opposed to God, the Lord on the mountain appears with the prophets, one of whom was the lawgiver, and the other a Zealot. Such prophets as these would not have conversed with one who seemed to abolish the law, if what He said did not please them" (Blessed Theophylact, Commentary on Mark 9

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Scripture read on Transfiguration: 10 questions 1-3

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

All ten questions are at

http://www.orthodox.net/questions/transfiguration-scripture_1.html

QUESTION 1

"And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray." (LUKE 9:28)

What sayings?


 

Jesus had just finished discoursing with the Apostles about His upcoming passion, and had finished with the enigmatic words:

"Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. " (Matthew 17:28)

Jesus' Transfiguration was the fulfillment of this prophecy. "Some those standing here" would soon see Jesus as He really is, and will be, in His kingdom.


 QUESTION 2

" And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray." (Luke 9:28)

Why did Jesus take these three of His disciples?


 

 

"Wherefore doth He take with Him these only? Because these were superior to the rest. And Peter indeed showed his superiority by exceedingly loving Him; but John by being exceedingly loved of Him; and James again by his answer which he answered with his brother, saying, "We are able to drink the cup; nor yet by his answer only, but also by his works; both by the rest of them, and by fulfilling, what he said. For so earnest was he, and grievous to the Jews, that Herod himself supposed that he had bestowed herein a very great favor on the Jews, I mean in slaying him." (St John Chrysostom, Homily LVI on Matthew)


  QUESTION 3

"And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray." (LUKE 9:28)

What were the practical considerations and spiritual meaning of Jesus ascending a mountain to pray?


 Jesus wanted to be alone with his three chosen disciples, in a remote place, so that no other person would see His Transfiguration. The top of a mountain was a safe place to go.

A mountain has symbolized the elevation of our thoughts to spiritual things. It is also a remote place, away from worldly cares. We must ascend in our prayers and our way of life.

"He brings them unto a high mountain, showing that unless a man is raised on high, he does not become worthy of such divine visions." (Blessed Theophylact, commentary on Matthew 17)

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Why were Moses and Elias with Christ on the mountain?

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

 Holy Transfiguration ikon, by Theophanes

When Christ was transfigured on the mountain, Moses and Elias appeared conversing with Him. Why were these two present, out of all the righteous of the Old Testament?

 

The service texts explain this.

 

There are two equally valid answers. One has to do with the respective ministries of the two saints, and the other with a very important difference between them.

 

 

 

 
The Holy Moses was a prophet, but also, unlike any other personage of the Scripture, the one God chose to communicate the Law to His people (when he brought the Ten Commandments down from the mountain, and subsequently was the mouthpiece of God to proclaim the other laws found in the Pentateuch). He therefore, more than anyone else, is associated with the Law. Te Holy Prophet Elias was one of the greatest prophets. Therefore, Jesus was converging with a representative from the “Law and the Prophets” showing that He is in complete agreement with each.

 

The Holy Prophet Elias went up to heaven, alive, in the flesh, in a fiery chariot. Therefore, Moses and Elias are also representives of the “living and the dead”, showing that the Jesus is the “Lord of the living and the dead”

 

Transfigured on the high mountain, / the Savior, having with Him His pre-eminent disciples,/ shone forth most wondrously, / showing them forth as illumined by the loftiness of the virtues / and as ones vouchsafed divine glory. / Moses and Elijah, who spake with Christ, / showed that He hath authority over the living and the dead, / and that He is the God Who of old spake through the law and the prophets. / Of Him was the voice of the Father heard saying from the cloud of light: / "Him do ye obey, / Who through the Cross made hell captive // and granteth life everlasting to the dead!" (Transfiguration Vespers, Lord I have Cried)

 

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

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Transfiguration, 2008. Audio Homily. Human nature in the midst of the Divine.

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

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There is a startling contrast between Moses and Elias and the Apostles during the Transfiguration. The Apostles show they were not yet ready to fully experience Divine nature because of their sleepiness, confusion and fear. Moses and Elias were perfectly at peace in the midst of the uncreated light. Humanity was created to be able to perceive the Divine uncreated light, but we must be prepared for it.

Matins Gospel: Luke 9:28-36 And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. 29 And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. 30 And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: 31 Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. 33 And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said. 34 While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. 35 And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. 36 And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.

 


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