Originally scheduled for November 29
In one of the
most difficult passages in the New Testament we see the record of
Christ, on the mountain, being transfigured before three of his
disciples (Peter, James and John.) During this Transfiguration two
figures from the Old Testament appear before Christ. The first of
these is Moses. In a career that positively dripped miracles, the
most important thing that can be said about Moses is that he is the
Lawgiver to the Jewish people. By his hands the Ten Commandments
were brought down from the mountain. This was his great mission. You
can see its importance by the fact that when Christ is arguing with
the Pharisees or the scribes, the common phrase used to describe the
regulations derived from Moses is “the Law of Moses.” To the Jewish
people, he is the supreme authority on right and wrong.
The other man
who appears before Christ is Elijah. He is the quintessential
prophet of the Old Testament. His particular role was to be the man
who stood against all of the authority in the kingdom and proclaimed
the will of God. It is our picture of prophets ever since; men who
live in the wilderness, often on the run from the anger of the King.
What is remarkable about Elijah among all the other prophets of the
Old Testament is this: he never died. His assistant, Elisha, saw him
taken up to heaven bodily. When the ancient Jew spoke of Moses and
Elijah it was a synonym for “the Law and the Prophets.”
together these two men, great as they are, are subordinate to Jesus
Christ. Christ is a man whose mere presence suspends the law; whose
message exceeds that of all the prophets. In all things he is first.
But there is more.
It seems that he made one mistake in his career, and it cost him the
privilege of entering the promised land. Great as he was, he
experienced death. Elijah, on the other hand, is a representative of
those who have eternal life — he never died. The superiority of
Christ over these two also implies his superiority over both life
and death. If these two lessons were all we got out of the
Transfiguration the text would be more than honored. What is
astonishing about it is that the Transfiguration happens just before
the Crucifixion. Indeed, as Christ was walking down the mountain and
explaining the role of John the Baptist as Elijah he remarks that as
the leaders had done to John the Baptist what they pleased, they
would do the same with Jesus. He knew that he was going to suffer
and die. He gave his life for us, out of his great love.
And out of
this great episode we can see what Christ thought most important.
Think about it; what did he ask you to remember?
He does not ask you to remember that he is Lord of the law and the
He does not ask you to remember that he is Lord of life and death.
He asks you,
as you take communion, that you remember his great sacrifice on the
Cross. It is not his great power or authority, it is his great love
that we celebrate in communion. Consider it well; this is the one
thing he wants you to remember every time. So as you partake this
morning, remember that the Lord of the law and the prophets, the
Lord of life and death wants you to remember his great love.