Hi, welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host for the Daily Challenges. Yesterday we read the story of Jesus and three disciples who climbed a mountain to pray. While Jesus was praying, he suddenly changed before their eyes, turning radiant white. His face, and even his clothes were dazzling white, and then two more men appeared on the mountain. It says that Moses and Elijah were talking to Jesus. It says that when Peter saw this, he blurted out something strange about putting up tents. In response to that, God spoke from a cloud, saying “This is my Son, my beloved, in whom I am well please. Listen to him!” after which the disciples were left alone with Jesus on the mountain.
Now, if there had been any doubts about who Jesus was, suddenly these three disciples knew that this was no man, and this was no prophet of old! This Jesus was something way more powerful…he was God’s beloved, chosen Son! No wonder Peter shook in his boots and blurted out something strange about making tents for them! There was something so special about this account, and we can find it if we just dig a little bit below the surface. This was Jesus showing his disciples something that he couldn’t describe, something that would change the world. And he did it by showing, not by telling.
First of all, Jesus showed them with his body, he shone. His face and even his clothes were a radiant white, whiter than anything they’d ever seen before. But there’s more! In verse 31 it says, “Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, were talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”
The disciples climbed a mountain with Jesus, and now they’re getting what Jesus promised eight days before, a glimpse at the Kingdom of heaven! There’s far more to come, but this is just a glimpse, a snapshot like this picture from the Sistine chapel. It was just a hint at the real glory of God’s kingdom!
Now…Elijah and Moses. What are those two doing there? Things may seem to be getting confusing, but it’s actually really fascinating, since they’re there for a very important reason. Let’s talk about Moses first.
It said Jesus’ face was shining, radiant. This has happened before in the Bible! It happened in the book of Exodus, which is about the time when Israel was led from slavery in Egypt into the desert, towards their promised land. It tells the story of when Moses was on Mt. Sinai and heard God’s law, then brought it to the people of Israel.
So, he climbed up a mountain. Does this sound familiar? Then in Exodus 24:16 we read that a cloud fell upon the mountain and “the glory of the Lord rested on the mount.” Then when Moses came back down the mountain, Exodus 34:30 and 35 say that his face shone!
Now, there might just be a connection here! And just in case it wasn’t obvious to the original Greek readers, it says, “they were speaking of his departure”. We all assume that to mean his death, departing our world. But there’s something subtle here. In Greek, that word is exodus.
So without saying much at all, Jesus showed the disciples that he was going to rescue them, just like Moses did in the exodus. But Jesus is no Moses. With Moses only his face shone…but ALL of Jesus, even his clothes, was now shining. This event is like the exodus, but so much more. Jesus is not just saving the Israelite people from slavery to the Egyptians, but saving the whole human race from slavery to sin and death! He’s the Messiah, their saviour, but also so much more! He’s GOD in the flesh! He shines brighter than anything. Now we’ve squashed one theory from the crowds following Jesus, because he is definitely not a man like John the Baptist.
So that explains Moses’ presence, but he wasn’t the only one there, there was also Elijah. Elijah was one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament. And here we find him with Moses, both of them giving witness to who Jesus is. First of all, this answers all those people who thought Jesus was Elijah. So much for that theory, we just saw Elijah standing next to Jesus!
Here is greatest prophet of all time with Jesus, and since Jesus seems to be greater than Elijah we can also forget the theory of him being a resurrected prophet of old. But the question remains, who IS he?
Here’s one clue. The history of the Israelite people is told in the Old Testament, and the two most important sections of it are the Law (the first five books) and the Prophets. Now here is the greatest representative of each one, Moses, the lawgiver, and Elijah, the prophet, bearing witness to Jesus, witnessing to who he is.
Jesus clearly changes everything for Israel – Not only are the great prophets listening to Jesus, but when Peter suggests they stay and celebrate one of their festivals by setting up and living in tents, Jesus rejects this. The message is that before now, they were to listen to the Law of Moses, and the oracles of the prophets. But NOW, they listen to God’s Son himself. As for the old rituals and festivals…it’s not worth celebrating the old exodus when the Son of God is ushering in a new one! And most visibly – when the voice stopped, Jesus was there, not the law and the prophets.
Question: What do you think this passage can teach us today? Do we need the same answers to the same questions?