Adam who fell under the shadow Christ makes bright again

THOUGH he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

Hebrews 5:8-9


THE Transfiguration shows us who Christ is.

Many of our contemporaries have the mistaken idea that he is a great teacher or a master of ethics.

The Transfiguration, however, reveals that he is the Son of God.

The change of his appearance, the divine, uncreated light which enveloped him, the heavenly voice of the Father which bore witness to his divine nature, all showed that he is God.

An icon of the transfiguration of Christ (12th century), from St Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai

An icon of the transfiguration of Christ, from St Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai

Yes, he lived amongst us in the form of a servant (Phil 2:5-11), he underwent for us death by crucifixion, but it never ceased for one moment to be the Word of God that became man, that taught, suffered and was raised up again out of boundless love for what he had made, for mankind.

Because he is God, he is also our Saviour.

Because he is God, his words and his life are binding for us.

Because he is God, his life and work lie at the centre of our faith.

But Christ is not only God. He is also man, perfect man, the first true man in the history of our race.

He is the new Adam, who speaks familiarly with God once again, as of old Adam did in Paradise.

Christ is, however, far above the old, the first Adam, because he has a new facet to him, which the other could not acquire: likeness to God.

Even as he is man, Christ is like to God, because through absolute obedience he became like to the Word, like to his divine nature (Heb 5:5-10).

His human will followed the divine will from the first moment even to the hour of his death (Phil 2:5-11). His human desire was identical to his divine desire.

Thus he became as man what he was as God: Son of God.

This is exactly what he gives us, the possibility of salvation, because, that is to say, Christ deified our human nature (2 Pet 1:4).

Βασίλης Στογιάννος, “Η μεταμόρφωση του Χριστού και η σημασία της για μας”, (Basil Stogiannos, “The Transfiguration of Christ and its significance for us”), at Πεμπτουσία, the website of the Society of the Friends of the Vatopaidi Monastery. This is my non-specialist translation; I have also added some Biblical references.


St John Damascene

St John Damascene (+749)


THE bow of the mighty has waxed feeble, and the weak have girded themselves with strength (1 Rgn[1 Sam]2:4): wherefore my heart was established in the Lord.

Thou O Christ didst clothe thyself with the whole Adam; changing the nature that of old fell under shadow, thou didst make it bright, and in changing thy appearance thou didst the deeds of God.

He that led Israel of old in the desert by a fire-formed pillar and in cloud, is Christ (cf. 1 Cor 10:1-4) that today upon mount Thabor shone forth in a fashion beyond words.

Canon of the Feast by St John Damascene, Matins for the Feast of the Transfiguration, Ode 3. My translation, from the Greek at Analogion.


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