This would have been an amazing experience to be a part of.
Let me first say that this isn’t a creative meeting between Jesus, Moses and Elijah. It’s not as though Jesus needed some pointers on his ascension that would follow his resurrection. It’s kind of funny to think of it that way. You’ve got Elijah there, telling him to do it old school – “Jesus – you gotta use a chariot and fire man. I mean that’s the only way it’s ever been done before – so come on and do it the right way.” While I’m not sure that this occurred, it’s fun to think of Jesus and Elijah giving each other a hard time up in Heaven about who’s earth exit was better.
Of course Moses was just standing there, and didn’t have anything to offer the discussion about ascension. All that happened to him was that God buried him. I suppose it’s possible God took him right to heaven after he died. But Jesus and Elijah were alive when they left the earth. Moses wasn’t alive. But Moses was the only one to see God. So, he did have that one up on Elijah.
Okay, seriously. What’s the significance of this event? Well, it’s far greater than we can summarize in this short post. For one, there was this part of the Old Testament Law (which Israel was still living under because hadn’t died for them yet) that says “A matter may be legally established only on the testimony of two or three witnesses.” – Deut. 19:15. The transfiguration met those requirements both for earth (Peter, James and John) and for Heaven (God the Father, Moses and Elijah). But that wasn’t the only significance.
For just a brief moment, Peter, James and John saw a glimpse of Jesus’ glory. They didn’t see the whole thing, but they saw a part of Jesus’ divinity being revealed in the presence of the heavenly beings. They would have been used to seing Jesus this way. Not so much for Peter, James and John. But, all of them were a witness to this event which showed Jesus as fully God and fully man. This was a visible representation to all parties involved that this man, Jesus, was quite literally the bridge between Heaven and Earth. In this moment we see Jesus standing in the gap between all things. He is standing in the gap between our world and the next, between the Old covenant and the New covenant and standing in the gap between God and Man.
No wonder the disciples wanted to stay there!
28 Now about eight days after these sayings, Jesus took with him Peter, John, and James, and went up the mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face was transformed, and his clothes became very bright, a brilliant white. 30 Then two men, Moses and Elijah, began talking with him. 31 They appeared in glorious splendor and spoke about his departure that he was about to carry out at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those with him were quite sleepy, but as they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33 Then as the men were starting to leave, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us make three shelters, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he was saying. 34 As he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.35 Then a voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him!” 36 After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. So they kept silent and told no one at that time anything of what they had seen.
God, help us to see and be amazed by your son. Help us to gain an understanding of the life he lived, the death he died and new life we have as a result of his resurrection. Help us to see just how amazing it is that you sent your son to literally stand in the gap between anything that could keep us from you.
Help us not to want to stay on the mountain and hoard all of your presence for ourselves, but help us to go back into the world you have placed us in to do the work you have called us to do.