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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Four - The Third Initiation - The Transfiguration

"There is in fact an inward connection between the Baptism and the Transfiguration. In both cases a condition of ecstasy accompanies the revelation of the secret of Jesus' person. The first time the revelation was for him alone; here the Disciples also shared it. It is not clear to what extent they themselves were transported by the experience. So much is sure, that in a dazed condition, out of which they awake only at the end of the scene (St. Mark IX, 8.) the figure of Jesus appears to them illuminated by a supernatural light and glory, and a voice intimates that he is the Son of God. [161] The occurrence can be explained only as the outcome of great eschatological excitement."
- The Mystery of the Kingdom of God, by Albert Schweitzer, pp. 181, 182.

The same writer goes on to point out:

"We have therefore three revelations of the secret of messiahship, which so hang together that each subsequent one implies the foregoing. On the mountain near Bethsaida was revealed to the Three the secret which was disclosed to Jesus at his baptism. That was after the harvest. A few weeks later it was known to the Twelve, by the fact that Peter at Caesarea Phillippi answered Jesus' question out of the knowledge which he had attained upon the mountain. One of the Twelve betrayed the secret to the High Priest. This last revelation of the secret was fatal, for it brought about the death of Jesus. He was condemned as messiah although he had never appeared in that role."
- Ibid., pp. 217, 218.

This evokes in its entirety the question as to the nature of that mission which Christ came to forward, and what constituted the Will of God which He came to fulfil. Three major points of view usually held by the orthodox Christian might be enumerated as follows:

  1. He came to die upon the Cross to appease the wrath of an angry God, and make it possible for those who believe in Him to go to Heaven.
  2. He came to show us the real nature of perfection and how, in human form, divinity might be manifested.
  3. He came to leave us an example that we should follow in His steps.

Christ Himself laid no emphasis upon the death on the Cross as being the apex of His life work. It was the result of His life work, but not that for which He came into the world. He came that we might have "life abundantly," and St. John tells us in his Gospel that the new birth is [162] dependent upon belief in Christ, when power is given to us to "become the Sons of God, even to them that believe on his name, which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (St. John, I, 13.)

Is it not reasonable for us to gather from these words that when a man reaches the point of recognizing and believing in the cosmic Christ, "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," (Rev., XIII, 8.) then the new birth becomes possible, for the life of that universal Christ, animating every form of divine expression, can then consciously and definitely carry the man forward into a new manifestation of divinity? The "blood is the life," (Gen., IX, 4.) and it is the living Christ that makes it possible for all to become citizens of that kingdom. It is the life of Christ in each of us which makes us sons of the Father, not His death which makes us sons. Nowhere in the Gospel story does an opposite statement find support. Christ, at the communion service, gave His disciples the cup to drink, saying "This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." (St. Matt., XXVI, 28.) But these are His only references to blood in its remedial aspect, so strongly emphasized in the Epistles, and He Himself nowhere correlates blood with the Crucifixion. He speaks in the present tense, and does not relate the blood to the new birth or to the Crucifixion, or make it a factor in the exclusiveness which has so deeply colored the presentation of Christianity in the world.

It is the Christ life in all forms which constitutes the evolutionary urge. It is the Christ life which makes the steadily unfolding expression of divinity possible in the natural world. It is deep within the heart of every man. The Christ life brings him eventually to the point where he transits out of the human kingdom (when the work of normal evolution has done its part) and leads him into the [163] kingdom of spirit. The recognition of the Christ life within the form of man makes every human being, at some time, play the part of the Virgin Mary to that indwelling reality. It is the Christ life which, at the new birth, comes to fuller expression, and from crisis to crisis leads on the developing son of God until he stands perfected, having achieved "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." (Eph., IV, 13.)

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