Luke 9:27-36 :
But I tell you the truth: There are some of those who stand here, who will in no way taste of death, until they see the Kingdom of God.”
It happened about eight days after these sayings, that he took with him Peter, John, and James, and went up onto the mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became white and dazzling. Behold, two men were talking with him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory, and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they were fully awake, they saw his glory, and the two men who stood with him. It happened, as they were parting from him, that Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let’s make three tents: one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah,” not knowing what he said.
While he said these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered into the cloud. A voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him!” When the voice came, Jesus was found alone. They were silent, and told no one in those days any of the things which they had seen.
Here we have three of the disciples who were allowed to witness the glory of the Kingdom of God while they were still alive on earth and we know from what they said later that it left a big impression upon them. I get the idea that it was incredibly wonderful experience; something that you don’t ever want to go away. What happened at the moment, however, was quite embarrassing. They were asleep at first but when they woke up it started to fade away, and it does seem natural that Peter would try to keep them from leaving. So, as it was fading, Peter said the first thing that his drowsy mind could think of. I can relate to this as I am sure many of you can.
Peter exposes a serious problem we have in our world today. I believe that it is likely that Peter was suggesting that they build three temporary synagogues or holy sites for each one of the men in their glory. Three equal sites. This was not a good idea because, immediately, God rebukes them. I don’t know for sure whether Peter just wanted to build tents or actual holy sites, but it is clear that no matter how glorified these other men were, God didn’t like them being compared in the same category as Jesus. Elijah or Moses just didn’t compare to Him. On top of that, God tells the disciples who they were to listen to in no uncertain terms. We should remember, that pastors, priests, and popes cannot be compared in any way to Jesus and His place of rule over us.
I have been taught by Bible teachers that Moses and Elijah are likely to be coming back to earth physically someday as the two prophets spoken about in Revelation. If you remember, Moses body was buried by God and Elijah went away on a chariot of fire. In the book of the Revelation it says that two prophets will appear and will bring plagues down on the earth against the will of the world ruler at that time. It says they will be hated and ultimately killed and raised to life publicly on what the Bible seems to be describing as live TV. It isn’t surprising that they would be found together with Jesus discussing the things that were going to take place. Isn’t it wonderful that the King would have such personal relationships with people like Elijah that He would discuss things like this with him? It’s good to note that Elijah was like us. I say this because James, one of the people there on the mountain, made it clear:
James 5:17a :
Elijah was a man with a nature like ours
James wrote this quite some time later and it is clear that He took to heart what God said. He realized that Elijah was just a man but that Jesus was God and was not to be compared with anyone else. Peter mentions the event very clearly in 2 Peter 1:16-18 and John could be talking about it in John 1:14.
This event is often called “The Transfiguration.” It is interesting that Moses represents the law and that Elijah represents the prophets especially when you consider that God told us that we should listen to Jesus. This is yet another indication that the law and the prophets were only pointing to Jesus who would come and bring them to fulfillment. Although the law is fulfilled in Jesus, He has yet to fulfill some of the prophesies that the prophets spoke of.