Elijah and Moses — Matthew 17:1–8

The glory of Jesus — part  2

40 blogs of Lent — day 28

Jesus appeared trandfigured, Moses and Elijah were with him. In sermons I have heard talk about Moses representing the Law and Elijah the Prophets of the Old Testament. Commentaries on the passage say the same thing.

I tried to come to this passage with an open mind, wondering why Moses and Elijah should be on the mountain. The connection I found was fire.

Transfiguration of Jesus by Armando Alemdar Ara
Used under a GNU Free Documentation Licence

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

Matthew 17:1–8 ESV UK

I am autistic, my mind is wired differently from other people, everything I do, say or think comes through my autistic mind, which is very logical to the extent that when watching Star Trek in my youth I would correct Spock. That is unless I am stressed when I lose the power of logical thought. I am relaxed now. Every now and then a differently wired brain will look at things a different way.

I have a problem with the traditional view that the reason Moses and Elijah were with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration was the Law and the Prophets because ever since I asked the question of what makes up the Old Testament the answer I have got is that the Old Testament is made up of the Law, the Prophets and the Writings, so if representation on the mount was according to the sections of the Old Testament why was David the psalmist-king or Solomon the philosopher-king not there to represent the writings? The other problem is that if the reasons for Moses and Elijah being present was the Law and the Prophets, why is it not explicit in the text?

I had no idea, the theology as I had heard it seemed little more than a good guess.

Then I saw the picture Transfiguration of Jesus by Armando Alemdar Ara used above and on my previous blog post. To me it depicts the transfiguration as fire. Jesus glows with the presence of God in flames. Now I have the connection.

Moses met God in a burning bush, He also went up a mountain to collect the law and the mountain smoked. A column of fire, which showed itself as smoke in the bright sunlight, led the Israelites through the desert. Fire is the symbol of the presence of God.

Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to call down fire to burn up a sacrifice. When they had unsuccessfully spent the whole day chanting and praying Elijah took his sacrifice, soaked it and the wood it was on with water and prayed to God. God answered with fire which consumed the sacrifice.

That is my first connection. God showed his presence to both Moses and Elijah in fire. There is another connection, God showed his presence to Elijah and Moses on a mountain. They both saw God. The third is they both departed Earth still alive.

I am not saying that generations of theologians are wrong. They were asking two questions, What does Moses represent? and What does Elijah represent? at the transfiguration. I am asking a different question, what connects Moses and Elijah that they should be there with Jesus. We are getting different answers because we ask different questions.


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