While listening to a radio preacher yesterday, I heard a comment alluding to the fact that there is much more about the three participants at Jesus’ transfiguration than first meets the eye. I was unable to listen to the entire message, but that one statement got me thinking, and I discovered that there are indeed several significant factors about the three men (Moses, Elijah, and Jesus) that might initially escape our attention. Let’s look first at the passage in question:
Matthew 17:1-3 (NIV) 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.
So, what are some of the “significant factors”?
- These three individuals represent arguably the most important sections of The Bible; namely the Law (Moses), the Prophets (Elijah), and the New Testament, especially the Gospels (Jesus).
- The Law refers to the five books of Moses known as the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
- The Prophets are the last 17 books of the Old Testament: (Isaiah through Malachi)
- The New Testament contains the last 27 books of the Bible, especially The Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
- Each of these men can be described as one who speaks for and with God.
- Moses conversed with God. (Exodus 3:4-6; 19:19; 33:11)
- The Lord speaks to Elijah (1 Kings 19:9-18), and Elijah speaks for God (1 Kings 17:1; 17:14)
- Throughout the Gospels there are many instances recorded of Jesus speaking with God (in prayer: Matthew 11:25-26; John 11:41-42; John 17) and speaking for God (in prophecy regarding end times and His part in that).
- Each of these mighty men of Scripture ushered in a distinct age of miracles.
- Moses was directly involved with many miracles: the ten plagues against Egypt (chapters 7 to 12 of Exodus), the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21-31), manna from heaven (Exodus 16:14-35), water from the rock (Exodus 17:5-7), and many more.
- Elijah is said to have performed 16 miracles, but the most remembered is probably his battle on Mount Carmel against the prophets of Baal, in which God’s prophet outclassed the prophets of evil (1 Kings 18:16-46).
- Jesus performed many, many miracles as recorded in the Gospels, from turning water into wine (John 2:1-11), to healing all manner of sickness (Matthew 9:20-22), to raising the dead (John 11:1-44).
- The deaths of each of these three are shrouded in mystery.
- Moses died alone with God on Mount Nebo, but no one knows where God buried him (Deuteronomy 34:4-6)
- The Bible tells us that Elijah did not die, but went up to heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11) so as with Moses, Elijah has no known burial place.
- Jesus died on a cruel Roman cross and was buried in a borrowed tomb. But when His followers went to the tomb to prepare His body, the tomb was empty (Luke 24:1-12). He ascended into heaven and has no earthly remains or burial place.
So these “significant factors” about the three men present at Jesus’ transfiguration are more than merely coincidence. These elements, which the three share, should give us pause to consider that there is much more than meets the eye in the details of some of the Bible stories. We should keep our minds open to the possibility that God is really trying to tell us more if we would simply open our hearts, ask Holy Spirit to open our understanding, and be willing to dig deeper and find out for ourselves some of Scriptures hidden gems.
I might, of course, be completely out to lunch on this one. If you think that is the case, I would appreciate seeing your comments.