THREE MEN on a MOUNTAIN

Why did Moses and Elijah disappear when the Father said, “This is my beloved Son?” Why did He not say anything about those two great messengers of God? Is there something more than just the glorification and approval of Jesus in the story of the Transfiguration?

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The gospel reading from Luke 9:28-36 related the event we normally refer to as the Transfiguration.

Jesus took His three closest disciples with Him up on a mountain to pray. While He was praying, His features were changed.

His face and His clothing began to glow a dazzling bright white.

Then Moses and Elijah appear beside Jesus talking with Him about His soon departure.

Then impetuous Peter got all excited and wanted to set up a building to capture and contain the experience. I usually refer to him as Peter Popoff, because he was always popping off at the mouth with whatever came into his mind.

The scripture says that he was just jabbering away and didn‘t have a clue what he was talking about. That was a common experience for this uneducated fisherman whom Jesus loved.

The Father came down in a cloud and yelled at him, the same way Jesus yelled at him just a little earlier for saying He couldn’t die. (We use the term “yelled” whenever someone corrects us—”he yelled at me!”)

While this may look like just another event in the life of Jesus, there are some very important lessons for the disciples—and us—to be found in this account.

Regardless of the lesson, however, there is no doubt that this experience was indelibly imprinted on the minds and memories of the three who went with Jesus. Peter wrote in his second letter—

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
(2Pe 1:16-18)

Notice, though, that Peter does not refer to Moses or Elijah being there. Peter only mentions the fact that they were with Jesus and they heard the voice.

Why do Elijah and Moses suddenly appear to talk with Jesus?

They were like Jesus in several respects. They both disappeared from earth in an unusual manner. They both had to lead God’s people even though they were rejected by those same people.

In their ministry they both suffered a lot; but now they appear in glory. Their lives didn’t end in bitterness and death, but in God’s glorious presence.

Because of their experiences, Elijah and Moses could actually relate to Jesus and encourage him as he faced the way of the cross. Even Jesus’ closest disciples couldn’t be an encouragement to him at this hardest moment in his life, because of their own human desires, but Elijah and Moses could.

But there is something much more important happening here. Moses and Elijah represent two major concepts—the Law and the Prophets.

Moses represents the Law and Elijah represents the Prophets.

Therefore, with Moses and Elijah together we have the Law and the Prophets. This phrase was paramount to the understanding of the Jewish religion.

When Jesus summarized the greatest commandments, He concluded with

On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
(Mat 22:40)

The Law and the Prophets was the way the Jews referred to their sacred text we call the Old Testament of the Bible.

For them, their entire life was to be guided by what was contained in their Bible.

Filled with more commands than they could possibly learn and obey, Jesus summed up the entire book with the two commandments of love.

He did this because if your focus, your desire, your aim is to love, then you will not need to know each of the rules for living.

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Rom 13:10)

With love there is no need to understand or know the law. Love does not violate the law.

Let’s look a little more closely at what happened on the Mount of Transfiguration.

And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”
(Luk 9:35)

It is instructive that the Father did not say anything about listening to Moses or Elijah—the law and the prophets.

After they heard the voice from the cloud, there was no one there but Jesus.

The law and the prophets were gone.

This is more than a simple story of an event that took place.

God is telling the disciples something here that they did not yet understand, and wouldn’t for many years after Jesus left the earth.

They are being told in symbolic language what Jesus had told them plainly.

“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.
(Luk 16:16)

The Law and the Prophets had an important part to play in the preparation of the world to receive Jesus. However, when He came, their job was done.

This is what Jesus meant here, and what Paul meant in his letter to the Galatians.

So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,
(Gal 3:24-25)

Now that faith has come, we no longer need someone or something to tell us what to do.

If we still needed the law, Jesus would have made that plain when He told us about the Holy Spirit as a teacher.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (Jn 14:26)

Jesus said nothing about the Holy Spirit helping us to understand, know or memorize the Law and the Prophets.

The reason that Moses and Elijah disappeared before the event was complete was to show that their ministry was no longer necessary.

The Law and the Prophets were part of the Old Covenant, and so was Jesus.

Jesus was a part of the Old Covenant

Read that again. Is that something new or shocking to you?

Jesus was also a part of the Old Covenant as He was bringing in the transition from the old to the new.

This is a very important concept that we so often miss.

One of the reasons we fail to understand is because of the way our Bible is divided.

In our Bibles, the old stops with the end of Malachi, and the New begins with the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John contain the stories of Jesus’ life on earth. We see the division as only the Old Testament and New Testament.

The letter to the Hebrews makes it abundantly clear, however, that this is incorrect, and we would do well to understand it.

For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
(Heb 9:16)

We know that the letter to the Hebrews was written to show that Jesus was the mediator of the New Covenant between God and His creation.

Jesus’ death sealed the new covenant as being established.

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. (Heb 9:15)

Summary

Moses and Elijah had their ministry which was in effect until John.

Jesus brought in a time of transition from the old to the new.

That period of transition officially ended with the crucifixion.

However, we know that it took a few years for it to take effect in the mind of the apostles.

The Transfiguration was an important event in the life of Jesus and the three closest to Him.

It was a signatory event in the full plan of God for mankind.

The Transfiguration was not only about Jesus being glorified in that moment, but was also about the transformation from the old way of seeing things into the new way of understanding.

May God give us eyes to see and ears to hear and a mind that understands the fullness of His love.

JESUS CHRIST, INTERCESSOR

You may attempt to fix your bad situation yourself, but there is a much easier way, which involves much less effort.

“intercessor, advocate and pray” are each words that have taken on religious meanings quite apart from their original intent. Nonetheless, Jesus fulfills every aspect of each of them. Learn how these words are used and it may change the way you view your trials.


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If you prefer to read, then here is the text.

Our Scripture Lesson this morning adds some thoughts to what we observed last time.

Last time we saw that what Jesus did, He did once for all—for all time, for all sin, for all people.

Now we come to a more specialized aspect of that work. Even though His work was for all people, there is still a place of each individual coming to a recognition of that reality.

And for those who have gained that revelation, they have a powerful representative working for them. [Heb 9:24 ESV] For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

This verse simply says that Jesus appears on our behalf, but it doesn’t say WHY. Why does He appear on our behalf? Is there something that we need? Would we be in trouble if He weren’t there on our behalf?

In our country of the United States, we have representatives who are in D.C. in the halls of congress. They are there on our behalf. They are supposed to speak for us.

We won’t go into how well they do that. Just know that their purpose, their job, is to speak for us, for you, for me.

In that sense, they are interceding for us.

However, the word “intercede” has taken on a different meaning than simply “speaking for.” It now has the connotation of helping me out of any trouble I might be in.

That is the way most people now understand the word.

That is due to our use and understanding of the word “advocate”, which we take to mean ‘lawyer.’ [1Jo 2:1 ESV] My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

This verse has been used to show that Jesus is our lawyer when we are accused of sin.

Many fanciful stories have been concocted about Satan coming before the throne of God to bring accusation against us. But, then we are told to not worry, because Jesus is there to defend us.

It is kind of like there is this cosmic war going on in heaven before God’s throne.

It makes for great story-telling, and has been used for sermonizing, but it does not stack up with what the Bible says.

This is why you still see many believers worried about their salvation. They are trying hard to believe something which is not true.

The devil is not constantly before God’s throne trying to get a piece of you, but Jesus keeps pushing him away. [Rom 8:34 ESV] Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Paul specifically argues against this idea that there is anyone who can condemn us. Yes, there may be those who try, but when we know the truth, we are free from believing those lies.

In this verse, we have the word ‘interceding’ and in the previous verse, we have the word ‘advocate.’

What I am saying is that both of these have been misunderstood, because we have defined them from our modern thoughts and usage rather than from their originally intended meaning.

ADVOCATE translates the word ‘paraclete’. You’ve heard that term before, haven’t you? PARACLETE?

It is another term for the Holy Spirit.

Paraclete is the Anglicized form, of the Greek and means “one who is called alongside.” And we have added the thought that the calling is for the purpose of helping, which is not too much of a stretch.

INTERCEDE, in its original English sense, carried the idea of conversation. The Greek word from which it is translated also originally had this idea.

Our idea of intercession is something akin to “a struggle on behalf of another.”

If it is the idea of ‘conversation’, then what is Jesus talking with the Father about?

As we try to wrap our minds around this, let’s not forget that we are trying to explain supernaturally eternal things with a limited natural vocabulary.

The reality is that we do not know about that conversation. We are simply told that it is. That is how we have gotten our misunderstandings. We have assumed things based on the supposed meanings of words and developed stories around those meanings.

However, we are told some specific aspects of this intercession on our behalf. [Rom 8:26ESV] Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

The first thing to notice here is that it is about our prayers.

We may often find ourselves in the place of not knowing how to pray for something. That has been true for me. Has it ever been true for you?

What is the reality of prayer? We have talked a little about this a couple of weeks ago.

When Jesus spent all night in prayer, do you suppose that His prayer request list was that long? Not hardly.

Our word “PRAY” has taken on a religious sense, but that was not its original idea. Remember, much of what we understand came from the KJV, which was written in Elizabethan English—the language of Shakespeare.

Here are just two different lines from a couple of his plays.

I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again. (Mid-Summer’s Night Dream)

And I pray thee, tell me, for which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me? (Much Ado About Nothing)

Do you get the sense of anything religious or spiritual here? No. It is simply an old English word for ‘ask’ as in “I ask you, please.” Or, as Aunt Susie might have said a couple of decades ago—“What, pray tell, is that supposed to be?!?”

When we see the word ‘pray’ in the NT, then, we should think more about the idea of asking God something during conversation. Prayer is having conversation with God, not just running down a list of things to ask for.

And when we don’t know what to say, the Spirit takes over the conversation. I’ve been around important people, and I didn’t know what to say or to ask. It would’ve helped if I had someone to come alongside to speak for me.

A representative, an INTERCESSOR—as we saw in the beginning—would be a great benefit.

We may not how to pray the right way, to say what needs to be said as a human being before the throne of Almighty God; but Jesus does.

Acting as our high priest for things spiritual, acting as our lawyer for things legal, acting as our representative for whatever is on our mind, Jesus is the best you could ask for. Wouldn’t you agree? [Heb 7:25 ESV] Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

“Save to the uttermost” means much more than just our eternity.

The word ‘save’ extends to every aspect of our life, not just our spirit. He is able to completely bring us to wholeness in mind, body and spirit, because He has been there and done that. [Heb 4:15 ESV] For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Our intercessor, our advocate, our representative knows what we are made of. He has experienced everything we have or will experience. There is nothing that is hidden from Him or foreign to Him.

You cannot do anything to take Him by surprise, to catch Him off-guard. The devil cannot do anything to you that will catch Jesus off-guard.

Therefore, all we should do is—RELAX. GOD’S GOT THIS.


THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH

Have you noticed that the Rapture is once again gaining the forefront of people’s thinking today? As we observe all that is going on in the world today, how do you answer people who want to know about God’s plan?

What does the Bible say about this important event?

What do YOU believe about this end-of-the-age report?

Find out in my article RE-THINKING THE RAPTURE.
You can get it here.