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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Four - The Third Initiation - The Transfiguration
It is important here to study briefly the place of the disciples in the story of this experience. Down through Biblical history we meet this triplicity. Moses, Aaron and Joshua; Job and his three friends; Shadrach, Meschach and [153] Abednego, the friends of Daniel; the three kings at the cradle in Bethlehem; the three disciples at the Transfiguration; the three Crosses on Calvary! What accounts for this constant recurrence of three? What does it symbolize? Apart from their possible historical appearance, does there lie behind them some peculiar symbology which can, when understood, render clear the circumstances in which they played their part? A study of their names and the interpretation of them as given in the familiar Cruden's Concordance may supply a clue. Take, for instance, the meaning of the names of Job's friends. They were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. Eliphaz the Temanite means "my God is gold," and also "the southern quarter," the opposite pole to the north. Gold is the symbol of material welfare, and the opposite pole to spirit is matter, therefore in this name we have symbolized the tangible outer form of man, actuated by desire for material possessions and comfort. Zophar the Naamathite means the "one who talks," and his theme is pleasantness, which is the interpretation given to the word "Naamathite." Here we have the desire body typified, with its longing for pleasantness, for happiness and for pleasure, and an indication of the constant and ceaseless call and voice of the sentient nature, to which we can all testify. Bildad the Shuhite represents the mental nature, the mind, signifying as he does "contrition," which becomes possible only when the mind is beginning to be active (including the conscience). Shuhite means "prostration or helplessness," signifying that alone and unaided the mind can reveal but cannot help. Remorse and sorrow, involving memory, are the result of mental activity. Thus, in Job's three friends the three aspects of his lower nature stand revealed. The same is the case when we study the names of Daniel's three friends. Abednego means the "servant of the sun," the server of the light; in that significance the whole duty and purpose of the physical outer man is summed up. Shadrach's name has a definitely emotional sentient connotation, for it means [154] "rejoicing in the way," and wherever we find reference to the basic dualities of pleasure and pain we are considering the emotional-feeling nature. Meschach means "agile," quick moving, which is in itself a very good description of the mental nature. Arjuna, in The Bhagavad Gita VI, 33, 34, points this out in his words to Krishna: "This union through oneness which is taught by Thee,  ...I perceive not its firm foundation, owing to the wavering of the mind; for the mind wavers, Krishna, turbulent, impetuous, forceful; and I think it is as hard to hold as the wind."

Thus in the three friends, and in the various triplicities which we find in the Bible, we discover a symbolism which is vitally illuminating. The three aspects through which the soul must express itself, and through which it must shine, are thus portrayed. It is the same in connection with the three friends of Jesus Christ. I cannot here touch upon the friendships of Jesus Christ. They are very real and very deep, and universal in their inclusiveness. They are timeless and eternal, and the friends of Christ are to be found in every race (Christian or otherwise), in every clime and in both hemispheres. And be it remembered, it is only the friends of Christ who have any right to be dogmatic about Him, or who can speak with any authority of Him and His ideas, because theirs is the authority of love and of understanding.

We find also this basic triplicity in the persons of Peter and James and John, and in their names we find the same essential symbolism working out, thus giving us the clue to the meaning of this wonderful story. Peter, as we well know, means "rock." Here is the foundation, the most concrete aspect, the outer physical form, which, at the Transfiguration, is transformed by the glory of God, so that the outer image disappears, and God Himself shines forth. James, we are told, signifies "illusion," distortion. Here we have reference to the emotional-feeling body, with its power [155] to misrepresent and to deceive, to mislead and to delude. Where emotion enters in, and where the focus of attention is in sensitive and sensuous reaction, that which is not true rapidly appears, and the man becomes the subject of illusion. It is this body of illusion which is eventually transmuted, and so changed and stabilized that it provides a clear medium for the revelation of deity. John means "the Lord hath spoken," and herein is the mind nature typified, because it is only when the mental aspect begins to manifest that we have the appearance of speech and of that thinking, speaking animal which we call "man." So, in the apt symbology of the Scripture, Christ's three friends stood for the three aspects of His human nature, and it was upon this integrated, focused and consecrated personality that the transfiguration made its impact and produced revelation. Thus again the essential duality of humanity is revealed through Christ, and His threefold personality and His essential divinity are portrayed for us in such a way that the lesson (and the possibility) cannot be evaded. The Apostles recognized God in their Master, taking their stand upon the fact of this divinity, as have the mystics of all time.

They "knew Whom they had believed." (II Tim., I, 12.) They saw the light which shone in the Person of Jesus Christ, and for them He was more than the Person they had known heretofore. Through this experience God became a reality to them.

In the synthesis of the past, the present and the future, Christ and those who were immediately His friends, met with God, and so potent was this combination that it evoked from God Himself an immediate response. When feeling and thought meet in a moment of realization, there is a simultaneous precipitation of energy, and life is forever after different. That which has been believed is known as fact, and belief is no longer necessary. [156]

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