Show Me Your Glory – Moses, Elijah, & Jesus

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The transfiguration is one of the most fascinating stories in the entire New Testament. When Jesus was transfigured on the mountain God sent Moses and Elijah to speak with him. What did they talk about on the mountain? I am really not sure but I have an idea.

The first clue that connects these three figures has to do with death. Popular Jewish stories hinted that Moses may have never died. Elijah, of course, was taken up into heaven and never died. Jesus was about to go to the cross and conquer death for everyone.

The second clue has to do with encouragement. When Moses was leading the Hebrews through the wilderness he got discouraged. He asked to see God. God showed up and only let him see him passing by through the mountains from behind. When Elijah was unpopularly speaking out for God he faced rejection and persecution. He needed encouragment. What did he do? You guessed it, he asked to see God. God showed up in the gentle whisper. Jesus was on his way to the cross. In Mark 9, Jesus is in the middle of his three passion predictions each of which is met by misunderstanding by his disciples and in need of further clarification. Even his own disciples were telling him it wasn’t a good idea. He faced opposition on every side. On the mountain, Jesus received more than encouragement from Moses and Elijah. Like Moses and Elijah, he received a revelation and experience of God, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” (Mark 9:7).

In all three instances death was overcome (only by tradition with Moses and not necessarily backed by scripture). In all three instances God made himself known at a crucial time. In all three instances they were encouraged and readied to go on to the next step. What did Moses, Elijah, and Jesus talk about? I am guessing it was pretty encouraging and that Jesus was getting geared up to go to Jerusalem and do what he needed to do with a result that all men everywhere could overcome death.

23 Responses

  1. I never thought of it that way. No details were ever mentioned of the content of the conversation between our Lord and Moses and Elijah. Maybe Jesus needed to be encouraged to go through with His sacrifice. He was, after all, fully human as well as fully God.

  2. I’ve preached this passage so many times, but never thought of the connection that both men had asked to see God. How many times in a crisis I think I would just settel for a sign from God.

  3. Excellent! I always wondered what they talked about. This is a pretty neat concept, but I guess we will find out what was really said that day…eventually!

    I do agree that there was definitely some encouragement going on!

  4. Have you ever read that passage & realized that Moses was actually setting foot, in a way, on soil in the promised land for the first time?

  5. Philip,

    That is fascinating. I guess in a sense though if you think about what is says in Hebrews 11 about aliens and strangers looking for a better home that could not be found in the here and now he had already set foot in a better promised land.

  6. Robert,

    Heaven exists. If you read the post you will get most of the explanation. Elijah was taken up into heaven and so he avoided death. Moses probably did die but some traditions said that he didn’t. Doesn’t it make sense that Peter would see them? In scripture people can see angels and so wouldn’t it make sense if Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus that if God wanted others to see them that Peter could see them?

    Maybe I am missing more to your question. Does that help?

  7. I think the key is the peter, james and john. When jesus raised jarius daughter from the dead, they were there. He then shows the same diciples that he can commune with spirit of the very dead and long buried moses and the un-dead ellija. Jesus had the power to command the dead to come back to life. He had power to command the dead and the undead to come back to earth for visit before he was killed and resurrected. Why moses and Elija? Was Jesus God before or After he died? Why did he pick those 3 among the 12 to be the witness? what roles did they play in the history of the church?

    1. Jesus certainly had those guys up there for a reason. Why Moses and Elijah? That answer is in the post – both asked to see God and experience that encouragement. Jesus and his disciples are in their company as they march to their final destination (Jerusalem, the cross, empty tomb, etc). Those events and those the disciples carry out from there in Acts will be the culmination of all Moses and Elijah looked forward to…a real home with God.

  8. Thanks for the above text. As always, we have to instruct eachother in what the Lord has revealed to us, each of us knowing just a part of the whole picture.

    In addition to what has been said, I would say that what also connected Jesus to Moses and Elijah was the fact that He was the fulfilment of the Law (represented by Moses) and the Prophecies (represented by Elijah, one of the greatest in the Bible). That is why, I think, God expressely told the disciples:”this is my beloved Son”, i.e., He is the both the Law and Prophecies in one person.

    God bless you.

  9. wow………….just wow. Never thought of the point in such a basic yet revealing way to the eyes and ears yearning to have spiritual wisdom.

    Thanks so much….where ever you are keep up the great work for us who just happen to stumble upon this site.


    1. The scripture does not tell us whether Moses and Elijah were dead at this time and brought back to life? Is it possible that God allowed them to see And talk with Jesus not unlike John who was alive on earth but saw and interacted in the heavenly realm when he was given the revelation of end time?

  10. and the peace beyond all understanding has to be where God said he was …….the quiet peaceful center of the storm…not all the thunder and lightning and winds surrounding the center, but the inner peace he is trying to give to us that man lost long ago. Am I close with this understanding?

  11. i am also curious to what could have been said. but although elijah was taken up into heaven, moses had to have died because of the devil disputing with the angel over his body… my question still lies with the conversation… i wish the diciples would have given us a little peace of information (0:;

  12. Thank you for the wonderful insight. It’s always good to be in the company of believers.

    Tassja – Yes it would be good to know what they were discussing. As with the story Jesus told on the road to Emmaus, after the resurrection, I would have loved to hear that story.

    Whatever the conversations were – it is comforting good to know that God’s own thoughts towards us are thoughts of good and not of evil, that gives us a future and hope.


  13. I was reading this passage in the bible and had the same question so i googled it and found your blog. What you have said is very interesting. Im so looking forward to Heaven and seeing the mysteries of God, maybe God will answer this question for sure.

  14. I think we do know what they were talking about – Luke tells us they were discussing Jesus’ “departure” or “exodus” (Luke 9:30-31). They were talking about Jesus’ coming death and resurrection.

    The whole incident is astounding because – among other things – Jesus is clearly held out as the most important of the three. Glorious – that such a mighty, powerful One would humble Himself even to the point of death on a cross in order to save sinners. Hallelujah!

  15. Thank you for your thoughts. It definitely helps to share and get a different way of looking at things.

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