My Questions about the Mount of Transfiguration
Updated: Jul 3, 2019
Daily Reading and Devotional from the Gospels
2 And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. 3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. 4 And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. 5 And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 6 For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid. 7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. 8 And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves.
9 And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. 10 And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean. 11 And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? 12 And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought. 13 But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.
“Hey, that one dude with Jesus looks like Moses!” “Yea Peter, I think it is!”
“James, Isn’t that other fella Elijah?”
Jesus is talking with Moses and Elijah!” WOW!
I tried to imagine the three disciples and their conversation as they witnessed one of the greatest events in history. The day the glory of Jesus was revealed. Jesus took Peter, James and John up on a high mountain and showed them his true self. Some have called this the greatest of our Lord’s earthly miracles but is it? I think this wasn’t a miracle at all. It was the first time during his earthly life that Jesus didn’t veil his identity. The miracle was that somehow he could disguise his glory behind mere flesh at all. No, this was not a miracle but it was spectacular. I read this story and I have questions, lots of questions. I will just ask four.
1. How did they know what Moses and Elijah looked like?
There were no polaroids available of either right? I know that Elisha was bald but not so sure about his teacher. Moses was a pretty baby. How did they recognize them? I can only assume that since in Heaven we will know as we are known (1 Cor 13:12), something in the next life will take away introductions and those awkward apologizes because we didn’t recognize someone that we had met. If anybody knows another way these disciples knew the identities of the two guests of Jesus then please let me know.
2. Why Moses and Elijah?
One had died and the other had been raptured. One had his body buried by God himself and the other didn’t leave a body on earth at all. One was the human instrument that God used to give us the first five books of Holy Scripture while the other has no book with his name on it available. Why these two? I only have my theory but here it goes, the giver of the law and the greatest of the Old Testament prophets were witnesses of who Jesus was and talked about what he was about to do. This was symbolic of the wonderful truth that the Old Testament Law and Prophets testified of Jesus, predicted his coming, his cross and how he would conquer death hundreds of years before he was born.
3. How did Moses get here, on the other side of Jordan?
When we last saw Moses he was told he couldn’t come over because of his rashness and disobedience yet here he stands on the other side of Jordan, in the land of promise. I guess that curse that was upon him was taken away by Christ. The law kept Moses on the wrong side of Jordan but the grace of Jesus brought him to the other side. He does that for us too!
4. Why did Peter have to ruin it by talking?
This is one of the most relatable passages for me in the gospels. The Bible says that Peter spoke in verse 5 but then in verse 6 it says why he spoke. “He wist not what to say”, in other words Peter said something because he didn’t know what to say. That is what I do! I make that mistake all the time. I talk until I think of something to say. Someone said that if you open your mouth too wide someone may look inside and see your empty skull. I reveal mine way too much! What Peter said was a major mistake, He suggested that they build three tabernacles and stay there. If they stay, then many hurts will not be healed and many broken hearts will not be mended. If they stay, the law and prophets would be false witnesses because they predicted the death and resurrection of Christ. If they stay, our souls will not be redeemed, our sin debt will not be paid and we all go to Hell and not Heaven. Another thing wrong about the words of old Peter was that Moses and Elijah were not on the same level as Jesus. No structures were to be built in their honor, their job was to point to the Son of God not themselves. Building them a tabernacle was not at all appropriate.
God the Father interrupted, “this is my beloved son, hear him”.
When all was said and done, they saw Jesus only.
That is what we need today!
I guess those other questions aren’t the point. Jesus is the Son of God, the fulfillment of the law and the prophet’s promises, the Savior of mankind. Let’s listen to him focus on him.