Moses, Elijah, & Jesus
In Matthew 17 Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a high mountain. There, Jesus becomes radiant and His clothes luminescent. Moses and Elijah appear and there seems to be two groups of three men.
One group is the “in-the-know”; Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Moses and Elijah have performed miracles and pronounced edicts by the power of God. And Jesus? Well- He is God. These three have been beyond the physical life and experienced existence free of the concerns of mortality. It is my opinion that this is exactly what the three of them discuss- death. Jesus is soon to head to Jerusalem to die for our sins. We will see in the Garden of Gethsemane that He is not looking forward to the painful process of capitulating to His captors. So, Jesus has the opportunity to discuss death with two of His greatest forerunners; consider then the deaths that Moses and Elijah died.
Moses ascended Mount Nebo and was shown a reward he would never see. The promised land had been Moses’ destination for forty years and he will not step foot in the land. In Deuteronomy 34, Moses is having a special moment with God, in which God shows Moses things beyond the scope of man’s abilities. Immediately thereafter, Moses dies. Contrary to Jesus, Moses is in peak physical condition at the time of his death (Deuteronomy 34.7). Also, the Son of God is buried by sinful men, and Moses is buried by a sinless God (Deuteronomy 34.6).
Elijah has asked God to take his life. Elijah performs miracles before asking for permission and when he introduces himself it is as God’s ambassador (1 Kings 17.1). How disciplined Elijah must be, what faith is required, to have seemingly near blasphemous confidence in God’s plan. And, leaving this world, Elijah suffers not, and is whisked to eternity by a tornado.
Since neither man suffered in death, how are they a comfort to Jesus, who is about to have His Father smite Him, strike, Him, crush Him (Isaiah 53.4-5)? Because they live. Surely, Jesus finds an amount of strength in knowing, whatever will happen in the coming days, death will is not the end.