THE ALTERNATE REALITY

One of the best biblical examples of the alternate normally invisible reality enveloping us and co-existing with us is the incident of transfiguration that took place of Jesus when he was up on the mountain with Peter, James and John.

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” (Matthew 17:1-9)

In a rare moment, God allows the normally invisible to become visible and be manifest in physical terms. Even though Moses and Elijah were physically dead centuries ago, here their spirits are seen well, alive and in a chatty mood. Jesus becomes visible as He really is- no ordinary man, no helpless babe lying in a manger or the quiet carpenter who stirred up a movement- He is seen as God, approved as God’s Son (in traditional Jewish terms- God’s equal) and as radiant as the sun as he converses with the spirits of the greatest men Israel had ever known.

God is a terrifying presence in this alternate reality. God is seen here as a bright cloud, which is a contradiction in itself- because clouds (even white clouds) tend to be dark as they block light; but here the cloud itself is the very source of brightness. God cannot be measured in physical terms- in a sense, there is an element of darkness to him as he cannot be fully known by man, yet he is the source of all light and so the apparent contradiction in his visible description as He thunders from within the cloud. The response evoked in the disciples is one of holy fear. While we live lives here on earth in blissful ignorance of the power of God and the spiritual beings, if our eyes would be opened to the spiritual reality, it would be nothing short of terrifying as was the experience herein.

The disciples wish to preserve this experience forever by creating shelters for them all. When God’s presence and his word are implanted within the human soul, no delicacy in this world can match the sumptuousness of that fare. This is the very essence of contemplation, where God’s presence becomes real in the experience of one who believes and follows Christ. This is the implanted word of God within the human soul. And when a disciple has been granted that delicacy, he goes forth in gay abandon willing to forsake all for the sake of the One who is immeasurably higher. All but one of disciples were happy to give up their physical lives for Christ, because they were given a taste of heaven.

Jesus instructed his disciples not to tell anyone of this till the resurrection because that is when the ultimate spiritual battle was won and the possibility of the Holy Spirit coming down to earth was made possible. And so while the perception of alternate reality through the experience of contemplation was exceptional in the past, today it is more common through the indwelling Holy Spirit within man. Much like the incident of transfiguration, the experience of contemplation will not last forever while we are on this earth. However the memory lasts and when coupled with faith, inspires a sacrificial life, well lived till the end.

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