Here we have the Transfiguration passage. This miraculous event has been the topic of many sermons with an emphasis on God the Father’s endorsement of his Son and what was about to happen. Not much has been noted about the presence of Moses and Elijah in many sermons, other than the fact that Moses represents the Law and Elijah the Prophets of the Old Testament. This is indeed significant in light of Jesus’ words as recorded in the gospel of Matthew.
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished (Matthew 5:17-18).
Christ’s life, death and resurrection are the fulfillment of the entire Old Testament. It is fitting that Moses and Elijah should appear right before these events take place. But let’s step back from the theological implications and observe a few other things. The Son of God was facing the culmination of his mission on earth – the restoration of mankind’s relationship to God. He knew the pain and suffering that waited for him in Jerusalem. Later, in the Garden of Gethsemane, he would pour out his heart to his heavenly Father, asking that this bitter cup be taken from him. Christ wasn’t the only one who knew about this impending atonement. Moses and Elijah certainly knew and understood what Christ was facing. What an act of love from the Father to send these two holy men to his Son to speak with him, encourage him, and pray for him. Jesus would have known these men and loved them.
This passage also gives us some insight into the universal church – those saints in heaven and those living here on earth. The concept of believers who have died having a ministry of intercession for those of us here below was unquestioned before the Reformation. Somehow, this connection with the saints above has fallen by the wayside in the last 500 years. Undoubtedly, corruption in the Church led many to throw away the baby with the bath water. As a result, we Protestants have little understanding or appreciation for the ministry these believers can have in our lives.
Next time you start asking friends to pray for you, stop and consider those who are close to the throne of God and request their prayers for you too. What a prayer team!