from WL Worcester (H Blackmer, ed.), 
The Sower.  Helps to the Study of the Bible in Home and Sunday School
(Boston: Massachusetts New-Church Union, n.d.)

Table of Contents


Lesson 24

Topical and Doctrinal Notes

Leading Thought: The Divine Human of the Lord

You have often heard or read of the Lord's "Divine Human," or the "Divine Humanity." What this is, is shown in this story.

When the disciples looked at the Lord or heard Him, what they saw and heard was the human nature from the earthly mother Mary, which God took on, or with which He clothed Himself. But on the mountain of which we read today, He showed what this Human was like when it was changed, or "transfigured," or "transformed," that is to say, when it was made Divine, the Divine Human." See how wonderful He then looked! "His face did shine as the sun!" No doubt when the disciples saw Him ordinarily, His face had the loveliest, kindest expression, full of strength and wisdom. Yet the features of the face were still made up of earthly matter and so it could not be aflame as when the disciples saw the same human face made Divine or "glorified."

Do you know why the face of His Divine Human shone as the sun? Because it was the Divine love, and the Divine love is the source from which all the angels grow warm with love, just as from our natural sun all things on earth grow warm. In winter we have little of the heat of the sun, and so the ponds and streams are frozen over, the rain comes down not in lively little drops that run quickly on their errands, bringing life to plants and animals, but in solid angular little crystals of ice, called snow, that remain where they settle until again transformed into round drops of water by the sun's heat. The trees are cold and bare of leaves; the fields look desolate. Many birds and beasts have long ago traveled to the warmer countries south of us. But in spring when the sun's heat grows stronger, then everything begins to start into life again. The snow and ice melt, and run quickly to give life to all things.

As on earth heat is needed for the life of all things, so also in heaven. There could be no green fields, no flower gardens, no orchards, no birds, no beasts, no fish, no, nor any angels there, if there were not heat. But the heat there, while it feels like the heat on earth, is very different. Here it comes from the sun which would be dead but for the Lord's constant work to keep it burning. The heat of heaven is from the Lord. It is the love that comes from the Lord. His love as it flows down into all things of heaven is felt as heat, and His truth as it flows down into heaven is seen as light. There is no other heat, nor any other light there, but the love and the truth that come from the Lord. You may imagine, then, how great His love must be, which is the source of all the heat and light of heaven. The Lord's love is the sun. It looks to all in heaven as our sun does to all on earth, only that it is incomparably brighter and warmer.

Understand correctly, that the sun of heaven is the love which flows out from the Lord Jesus Christ.

The three disciples saw the Lord's face shine: as the sun. Notice that it was His face that so shone. The shine came from the face; it therefore surrounded the face. The face was inside the shining. So within the sun of heaven is the Lord in person with His face, His body, His hands, His feet. And therefore, as you will also notice, the Lord's garments were white as the light or as snow - so brilliant. Light surrounds love, just as garments surround the body.

Since the Lord was seen by the three disciples in a different state from that in which He usually appeared to them, do you suppose that the disciples were also in a different state? Read the same account in the gospel according to Luke (9:32) and you will see that the disciples were heavy with sleep. The eyes of their body were closed and they awoke by the opening of the eyes of their spirits, and with these they saw the Lord.

It is only with the eyes of the spirit that the Lord's Divine Human can be seen. Swedenborg saw the Lord with his spiritual eyes, several times, sometimes in the sun of heaven, and sometimes outside of the sun, but then as though veiled by a thin cloud.

Since the three disciples saw the Lord's Divine Human, or His human nature "glorified," with their spiritual eyes, you can understand how it was that they also saw Moses and Elijah.

You will remember that Moses, the law-giver, had been dead about 1400 years, and that Elijah, the prophet, had been taken into heaven by a whirlwind about 900 years before. At the time they were both in the spiritual world in their spiritual bodies, and of course the disciples could see them only with the eyes of their spirit, for no one who has died can again be clothed with a material body.

The fact that they were taken by the Lord into a high mountain apart also leads us to think of their being led by the Lord into a higher or more interior state of mind than usual, that is, into a state of the spirit.

Let us consider for a few minutes a little of the spiritual meaning of this memorable occurrence.

You know that the books of the Word are divided into two great divisions - historical and prophetical. Those before the Psalms are historical; those after the Psalms, prophetical. In the New Testament, the Gospels are historical, and the Revelation is prophetical. Moses stands for the historical books, and Elijah for the prophetical. And their speaking with the Lord means that we people on earth can speak to the Lord through the books of the Word. That is, when we read and study and love the books of the Word, we thereby come so near to the Lord, that we hear His voice, and can tell Him what is in our hearts, how much we love Him, how much we need Him, and how much we wish to do His will.

You will remember what we learned in our last lesson about the rock on which the church of the Lord is built, the rock of belief, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." That was said by Peter at Caesarea Philippi, where are the springs or the source of the Jordan. Now, the Lord teaches the same thing on the high mountain. Out of the cloud, which means the literal sense, came the voice, "This is My beloved Son, hear ye Him." Was that voice heard once before? When?

To "hear" means to obey. So we are to listen to what the Lord Jesus Christ says in His Divine Humanity, and obey it.

But why were the three disciples, Peter, James and John, chosen to witness this splendid scene? Because they represent the trinity in man. What trinity? The trinity of will, understanding and deed. Or, of love, wisdom and use. Or, again, of charity, faith and good works. Peter means faith, for it was he who expressed what the disciples believed of Jesus, that He was "the Christ, the Son of the living God." James represents charity. And John, who lay in the Lord's bosom, represents charity in act.

First, we learn the truth about the Lord and His Word, and have faith in Him; therefore Peter is mentioned first. Next we love Him and His commandments in our heart, and will to do them; this is James, and so he is named next. But our faith (or belief) and our love (or charity) amount to little unless, when we can do so, we express them in our outward acts in the world. When from a good love, by means of a true understanding, we perform uses to the neighbor, then both the love and the wisdom are together in the use or the good work. This is John, and therefore he is mentioned last. And he was the one whom the Lord loved most.

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