by Dcn. Joseph Gleason
With all of our concordances, commentaries, and deep-dives into koine Greek grammar, we sometimes forget to sit back, relax, and revel in how incredibly awesome and cool some of the things in Scripture really are.
“the transfer of matter from one point to another without traversing the physical space between them.”
What could be cooler than that?
When we think of teleportation, science fiction stories usually come to mind. We think of Star Trek and say, “Beam me up, Scotty!”, even though this exact phrase was never actually spoken in any Star Trek television episode or film. But these sci-fi shows are mere fantasy. Meanwhile, Scripture records multiple incidents where humans were actually teleported from one location to another, in real life. This is way cooler than anything Hollywood can fake with camera magic.
Matthew’s Gospel records a time when Jesus managed to teleport an entire ship to a remote location, over two miles away from its origin:
Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them. Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid. But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going. (John 6:16-21)
The Sea of Galilee is approximately 6 miles across, and the disciples had rowed just past the midpoint. Jesus comes walking on the water (additional awesomeness), and after He gets into the boat, they immediately appear at the remote shore. The entire boat, its contents, and all its human passengers were teleported over a distance of at least 2 miles. Long before Star Trek had been imagined, Jesus was already teleporting people from one location to another. Amazing!
In the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit instantly teleports a man as far as 40 miles, from a desert road to the city of Azotus:
So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea. (Acts 8:38-40)
While we cannot know the precise location where Philip was on the road between Jerusalem and Gaza, we know that Azotus is not between the two cities, and that Philip may have been teleported as far as 40 miles to arrive as his destination. This map shows the locations of Jerusalem, Gaza, and Azotus.
Even back in Old Testament times, God took pleasure in teleporting people around:
They threw Daniel into the lions’ den, and he was there for six days. There were seven lions in the den, and every day they had been given two human bodies and two sheep; but these were not given to them now, so that they might devour Daniel.
Now the prophet Habakkuk was in Judea. He had boiled pottage and had broken bread into a bowl, and was going into the field to take it to the reapers. But the angel of the Lord said to Habakkuk, “Take the dinner which you have to Babylon, to Daniel, in the lions’ den.” Habakkuk said, “Sir, I have never seen Babylon, and I know nothing about the den.” Then the angel of the Lord took him by the crown of his head, and lifted him by his hair and set him down in Babylon, right over the den, with the rushing sound of the wind itself.
Then Habakkuk shouted, “Daniel, Daniel! Take the dinner which God has sent you.” And Daniel said, “Thou hast remembered me, O God, and hast not forsaken those who love thee.” So Daniel arose and ate. And the angel of God immediately returned Habakkuk to his own place. (Daniel 14:31-39)
Here in the 14th chapter of Daniel (Bel and the Dragon), God picks up the prophet Habakkuk by his hair and rapidly transports him from Israel to Babylon, so he could deliver a meal to Daniel in the lion’s den (Either Habakkuk was very elderly at this point, or else some time-travel was involved here too.). Then, after the meal had been delivered, God immediately transported Habakkuk back home. Teleportation over nearly 1000 miles. Impressive!
Arguably, another case of teleportation can be found in John’s Gospel, when Jesus enters a closed room without using the door:
And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” (John 20:26)
Just teleport a few feet, and you can walk through walls!
One of my favorite instances of divine teleportation is recorded in Luke’s Gospel, when Jesus breaks bread with two of His disciples, and then instantly is whisked off to who-knows-where:
Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. (Luke 24:30-31)
Long before anybody dreamed of Scotty beaming someone up, God had already been teleporting people around for thousands of years. That’s one of the reasons why it is so easy to believe we are actually united with heaven during worship. During the Divine Liturgy, heaven and earth intersect, and we find ourselves in the presence of God, the saints, and the angels. We participate with them in worship, and they can hear our prayers. Our iconography testifies to this reality. Fr. Alexander Schmemann writes in his book, The Eucharist, that
“the icon is a witness or rather a consequence of the unification of heaven and earth.“
The saints in heaven are a great cloud of witnesses. They watch us, pray for us, and cheer us on.
Jesus is the Lord of quantum mechanics, and He created the space-time continuum. Physical barriers and geographical distances are not obstacles for Him. He can instantly transport people (and their prayers) to any location in the universe, without even breaking a sweat.
And that is just awesome!