The Transfiguration and Deification
A lot of Christians puzzle over what is meant in the Transfiguration, yet this incident in the life of our Lord is surely the one of the most glorious and holds much signifcance for our own salvation.
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 Eli'jah:
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 Eli'jah: 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:
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.
When it says that Peter did not know what he was saying, a lot of people think this was one of Peter's typical foot-in-mouth comments. I rather take the view that what he was saying was prophetical in character. He referred to making tabernacles. In this he was showing that the feast of tabernacles was being fulfilled.
The people of Israel dwellt in tabernacles and so did the Ark of the Covenant, in which was the presence of God, the holiest thing on earth. The Transfiguration shows that again, God's presence was on earth, this time in hypostatic union with humanity in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. There will be another fulfillment of this in the Millennium when the earh shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14). But the ultimate fulfillment of the feast of the tabernacles is in the eternal state, for it says in Revelation 21:
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
The entire universe is to be filled with the presence of God! It says in 1 Corinthians 15:
27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, All things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
The cosmos is to be transfigured. Through Christ it will be united to God and deified in Him, that God may be all in all.
But before this, the believer is to glorified or transfigured.
To understand the Transfiguration we have to remember what happened to Moses:
29 ¶ And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Si'nai 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.
Moses had been in the presence of God. The presence of God is where God's holy uncreated energies are manifest. This is God's life and it transforms and transfigures. Moses was transformed by being in the presence of God. He experienced a partial glorification.
In the Transfiguration, the glory of God was revealed in Christ. His human nature did not become intermingled with His divine nature. No. His human nature was temporarily glorified and transfigured by His divinity. Now that He is risen and ascended into heaven, our Lord is fully glorified.
At His coming our Lord shall gather His redeemed to Himself and glorify and transform them. We shall still be human beings of flesh, but our flesh will be changed and transfigured through Christ. Through Christ's hypostatic union of humnaity and divinity, we come to participate in the divine and in Christ our flesh will be deified. We shall become God as He is God. We shall be like Him. It is the purpose of God in the church to make a new man (Ephesians 2:10), a new kind of humanity.
The glorification of believers is proportionate. There are degrees of glory. Those that come to be of the house of Christ (Hebrews 3:6), who have overcome and suffered for His sake shall be glorified in a unique way. It says in Romans 8:
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Those that have suffered for Christ receive the end in heirship with a greater glory. And these that are of the house of Christ are granted the privilege of exercising government over the universe as a race of divine beings. They may be said not only to have become one with God (as are all who are in Christ) but to have themselves become gods.