Message from Heaven at Mount Transfiguration

Why did Moses and Elijah appear to Yeshua on the Mount of Transfiguration? The Gospel of Luke says that they had a message for him.

Photo by David Huang on Unsplash

Yeshua needed information about the path before Him. The generation had failed to heed the warnings He and John the Immerser had offered. The arrest of execution of John the Immerser betokened the people’s rejection of their message.

After the death of John the Immerser, Yeshua tried to avoid public appearances in the Galilee. He brought His disciples into Phoenicia, Decapolis, and Batanea—all outside of the reach of Herod Antipas. Yeshua saw that His own life and mission was following the same trajectory as John’s. His own appointment was surely coming soon. He knew that the thing—whatever it was—must take place in the holy city of Jerusalem. He did not know when or how, or what course He should take. He needed more information. Yeshua climbed the high mountain seeking revelation about the path He must take.

When Daniel the prophet requested revelation, the LORD dispatched the angel Gabriel to provide him with the answers to his questions. In the Master’s case, the LORD did not send an angel to deliver the message. He sent only His two most trusted and loyal messengers to deliver the message to Yeshua.

The Gospel of Luke says that Moses and Elijah came to speak to the Master about “His departure (exodos, ἔξοδος) which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31). In his farewell epistle, Simon Peter uses the same word to describe his own impending death, just before recounting his eye-witness testimony of the transfiguration:

I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure (exodos) you will be able to call these things to mind. (2 Peter 1:15)

In the story of the transfiguration, the word choice implies more than just the Master’s impending death. The Greek exodos alludes to the Septuagint book of Exodus and the story of the exodus from Egypt. Moses and Elijah explained to Yeshua that His personal exodus would take place at Passover, the annual commemoration of the exodus. They explained the path of suffering He must follow, but they also explained His exodus from the grave and His ascension.

After His conversation with Moses and Elijah, the Master returned to Galilee without any further fear of Herod Antipas, and He set His face toward Jerusalem and His exodus there.

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