Elijah and Moses join the disciples on the mountain and see Jesus in transfiguration. May we also see Christ as he truly is.

Elijah and Moses are with Jesus on this mountain

Part 1 on the transfiguration of Jesus from Matthew 17 can be read here.

There are nearly 3,000 individuals named in the Old Testament, so for Elijah and Moses to be here is important. What’s going on?

Moses represents the redemption and salvation of God’s people from the horrible land of Egypt where they were abused by that nation generation after generation for 430 years. God raised Moses to be the leader who led them, so he is there with Jesus to remind us of God’s work of salvation in the bleakest of circumstances. God will act to save.

Moses also represents the Law – that is, the ethical ideas God wants to use to shape the people into the beloved community.

Elijah represents the prophets who are the conscience of society. Prophets stir our hearts to work for a society that is just. They remind us that faith demands fairness.

This is a picture of Gerard David's "The Transfiguration of Christ." The work has 3 panels with the other panels being paintings of the family who funded the work. The middle panel shows Christ exalted with the disciples bowing down.
Gerard David’s “The Transfiguration of Christ” The side panels were added later to honor the family who funded this work.

Elijah and Moses appear and they converse with Jesus. Notice, they are not in argument and they are not contrary. They work together as if each is a strand in the thread of salvation. t

What Role do Moses and Elijah Have at the Transfiguration?

Moses and Elijah are important people in the story of salvation, but what role do they play?

Let me give you two stories that I hope will help.

When I was in seminary I worked at this great outdoor parking lot across the street from some great restaurants and the San Francisco bay. It was a great job that allowed me to read for school while talking with people throughout the day.

In that part of California, you are close to a lot of movie and music studios and from time to time you would see and meet celebrities and the like. 

One day I’m in the booth and a car pulls up. I see a man with salt and pepper hair, and a beard, and he is wearing a flannel shirt. I knew immediately it was George Lucas, the big-time movie producer. His movie studio, Skywalker Ranch, was about 10-15 minutes away. 

A few hours later he drove to the exit, handed me his ticket, and then he suggested that $7 was too much to pay for parking. I suggest that $12 is too much to pay to see a prequel. Off he goes. I knew him by sight.

Another job I had was working in a village coffee shop. It was a great job and it was always very busy and from time to time you’d hear chatter: so and so is here because they are recording a studio album.

One afternoon my friend who is working for me hears the door open and then says, “Why don’t you help her and I’ll make the drink?” Okay.

So I turn around and do you know who it was? Me neither.

However, she is very friendly, upbeat, pleasant to be with, and has red hair with a little grey. We talk about music and spend about 10 minutes togehter. They leave and my friend asks me, “Do you know who that was?” 

Nope.

That is Bonnie Raitt. I said, “The Grammy award-winning musician who released a series of critically acclaimed roots-influenced albums that incorporated elements of blues, rock, folk, and country?” (Wikipedia)

Yes, that Bonnie Raitt.

In the parking lot, I knew George Lucas by sight. He was popular and Star Wars was getting a lot of attention. I knew him immediately. In the café, I didn’t recognize her. Although I knew her music, I needed someone to simply say, “Hey, this is her identity.” 

The law and the prophets are in conversation with us. They aim to reveal to us the true identity of Jesus so that we’d be better able to recognize Jesus when we interact with him.

The beautiful “Church of the Transfiguration”

Our friends, the Law and the Prophets, are setting the stage for us to encounter Jesus. When we read the Bible, we can think of it as people talk to us, giving us hints as to the shape of the one who is to come.

The Result

I love what Peter says, “It is good for us to be here.” He offers hospitality. After all, a cloud is gathering around them while they are on top of the mountain and he offers to build a shelter.

It is good to be with Moses and Elijah. It is good to be in the presence of Christ. It is good to be here together.

I pray that God would build us into a congregation that says of the worship service, “It is good to be here as we learn together.” 

Sometimes the worship service just feels like a normal gathering. And yet, sometimes, through the work of the Spirit, this ordinary room and this ordinary worship service feel like the most special place on earth. The presence of God can transform a mountain, can transform a worship service, and can transform us.

The goal every Sunday and our prayer is that we would see more of Christ and who he truly is. And that through the grace of God, our lives would be formed by this

In our prayer and in the celebration of the sacraments and in the preaching of the gospel of Christ, we are seeking to see more of Christ for who he truly is. And when we do get a better glimpse, let us proclaim with full joy, “It is good for us to be here.”

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