Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore, but only Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
Almighty Father, whose Son was revealed in majesty
before he suffered death upon the cross:
give us grace to perceive his glory,
that we may be strengthened to suffer with him
and be changed into his likeness, from glory to glory:
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God now and forever.
Elijah and Moses occupied a special place within the Old Testament teaching.
When Moses came to the end of his days, he went up a mountain alone to look at the promised land. Then he was not seen again, there was no grave. When Elijah came to the end of his days, his replacement – Elisha – saw him being taken up to heaven in the chariots of Israel. In other words, they were regarded as still living, waiting with God for the end of the world. There were many other prophets who we could think of, but it is the presence of these two that is highly significant. These are the prophets of the end of the world and in this situation, Jesus is revealed as the Christ in Majesty.
The Gospel writer presents this story in the part of the Gospel when Jesus turns to Jerusalem for the final part of his ministry. He talks about his suffering and death even though the disciples don’t want to hear it. The Transfiguration is a sign of the new world order that follows the death and resurrection of Jerusalem. This is the turning point that shows us the future of Jesus. As we face the horrors of the plot and the betrayal, we can see that this is part of a wider plan and that God remains in control.
If you wish to read the accounts of the deaths of the prophets, you will find the story of Moses in Deuteronomy Chapter 34 and Elijah in the Second book of Kings Chapter 2.