But something else happened on that mountain, besides Jesus' glory outshining the sun. Jesus had a couple of guests. The Bible says that Moses and Elijah were speaking with Jesus. What a sight for Peter and the boys: two Old Testament heroes fresh from the presence of God, now speaking with Jesus on top of a mountain! No wonder Peter, without realizing exactly what he was saying (Luke 9:33), wanted to build a tent for each of these glorious persons. He didn't want this experience to end.
Moses represents the Law of God revealed in Scripture, and Elijah represents the Prophets of God. So, together, these two men on the mountain constituted a living picture of the entire Old Testament! Imagine - in one brief moment the three disciples of Jesus 'saw' their entire Bible pointing to Christ.
When Moses had given Israel the Law, straight from God, his face shone. But it was a temporary shining of glory. The glory would fade, and so Moses put a veil on his face so the people wouldn't see it disappear (2 Cor 3:12). But the glory of Jesus, greater than the Law, does not fade. It was veiled during his ministry of humiliation as a Man, living his life and dying for our sins on the cross. But he has brought something greater than the Law.
"Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory...For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses..." 2 Corinthians 3:7-9; Hebrews 3:3, ESVThe Law and the Prophets did not come to save, but to point ahead to Jesus the Savior. So when Paul unveiled the gospel of Jesus, he could say:
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it - the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. Romans 3:21-22The Law and Prophets bear witness to Jesus. On the mount of transfiguration this happened literally!
Luke goes on to tell us that Moses and Elijah were speaking with Jesus about "his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem" (Luke 9:31). They were discussing Jesus' upcoming death on the cross for the salvation of sinners! They were indeed bearing witness to the gospel of Christ! The Greek word translated 'departure' in this verse could also translate as 'exodus.' Moses had led the exodus, or departure, of Israel from bondage to Egypt. Now he discussed with Jesus the greater exodus - our delivery from bondage to sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!
When Peter, James and John saw all of this, and Peter asked if he could build a tent for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus ("it is good that we are here" 9:33), he received an unexpected answer...from God himself!
"As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, 'This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!' And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone." Luke 9:34-36aPeter's attention was on Jesus AND Moses and Elijah (he wanted to set up a shrine for all three). But God the Father quickly intervened to refocus Peter's attention on Jesus alone. "No, Peter. THIS is my Son. Listen to HIM." And after God said this, Moses and Elijah were gone. Only Christ remained.
This is so significant. It is good to read the Law and the Prophets. But only if we see Christ in them. We read the Old Testament in vain if all we take from it is morals and "I'll-do-better-this-time" self-help. The entire Bible is about Jesus! We can't get to the Father any other way than Christ (John 14:6). Jesus said to the Jews, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. ...For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me" (John 5:39-40; 46).
Behold the glory of Jesus Christ! Glory that is greater than the Law and all the Prophets. All of Scripture points to Jesus. Don't miss him! Jesus is God's Son, and has brought salvation to all who will repent of sin and believe on Christ. Hear him!
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