The Transfiguration of Christ is one of the central events recorded in the Gospels. Immedi- ately after the Lord was recognized by His Apostles as “The Christ, the Son of the Living God” He told them that “He must go up to Jerusalem and suffer many things…and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
The announcement of Christ’s approaching passion and death was met with indignation by the disciples. And then, after rebuking them, the Lord took Peter, James, and John “up to a high mountain,” by tradition Mount Tabor, and was “transfigured before them.”
In the Transfiguration, the Apostles see the Glory of the Kingdom of God present in majesty in the Person of Christ. They see that in Him, indeed, “all fullness of God was pleased to dwell.”
In addition to the theme of the Glory of God which is revealed in all its Divine Splendor in the Face of the Savior, the presence of Moses and Elijah is also of great significance for the understanding and celebration of the feast.
Moses and Elijah are not only the greatest figures of the Old Testament who now come to worship the Son of God in Glory, these two figures actually stand for the Old Testament it- self: Moses for the Law and Elijah for the Prophets. And Christ is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. They also stand for the living and the dead, for Moses died and was buried while Elijah was taken alive in heaven in order to appear again to announce the time of God’s salvation in Christ and Messiah.
In the midst of trials and tribulations, it is well to keep our eyes on the Transfiguration and preserve the divine life in our souls. Temptations, sufferings, battles and penance, if accepted in Faith, may finally transfigure us completely and make us partakers of Christ’s Glory.
According to tradition, the Lord’s Transfiguration came to pass forty days before His Crucifixion; this is why the Transfiguration is celebrated forty days before the Exaltation of the Cross.
Apolytikion in the Grave Tone
You were transfigured on the Mount, Christ God revealing Your glory to Your disciples, insofar as they could comprehend. Illuminate us sinners also with Your everlasting light, through the intercessions of the Theotokos. Giver of light, glory to You.
Kontakion in the Grave Tone
You were transfigured upon the mount, O Christ our God, and Your disciples, in so far as they could bear, beheld Your glory. Thus, when they see You crucified, they may understand Your voluntary passion, and proclaim to the world that You are truly the effulgence of the Father.