(Scripture underline and bold emphasis ours)
Let’s take a closer look at the three key figures in this passage:
Moses represents God’s law (the operating system of the old covenant, or you we could also say, the way people were expected to relate to God in the old covenant)
- This operating system had a “God-part” and a “man-part”
- God gave man His perfect standard through his Law
- As long as man lived by and satisfied those commandments and standards, he enjoyed the blessing and favor of God (this, of course was an impossible task since the Law of God is perfect and imperfect man could never live up to its perfect standard (see Psalm 19:7 & Romans 7:12)
- When man failed to satisfy God’s law, he would experience the absence of God’s blessing and favor (the curses of the law – see Deuteronomy 28).
Elijah represented the prophets of the old covenant
- The old covenant prophets (John the Baptist being the last) spoke on behalf of God to the people
- They would also give guidance and warning on behalf of God
- Because these prophets were also man and women who lived under the law, to a great extent they also enforced the law of God through their prophetic calling
Jesus represents the new covenant (God’s grace)
- John 1:17 tells us that the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ
- Looking further at scripture, we see that grace is the very Gospel and person of Jesus (Galatians 1:6)
- Furthermore, Galatians 4:4-5 tells us that Jesus was born under the law in order to redeem all under the law, in other words, those who relate to God by their merit or performance (i.e. trying to earn and deserve God’s acceptance, blessing and favor, Galatians 4:21 through 5:4 confirm this)
Jesus through His death, burial and resurrection not only redeemed mankind but also instituted a new covenant, a new way of relating to God, one unlike the Law. The new covenant’s way of relating to God, or operating system is called grace:
Now, going back to our initial scripture reference (Matthew 17:1-8), Jesus is up on the mountain and is transfigured (gloried in form), then Moses and Elijah appear to talk to Him (about His death on the cross). God then speaks out, the disciples fall on their faces and when they look up again, they only see Jesus, Moses and Elijah were gone!
By glorifying Jesus and stating that we are to hear HIM, and by letting them see only Jesus after the fact, it becomes clear to us that the focus of our faith and standing before God is purely on the basis of who we are and what we have in Jesus and no longer our performance or merit!
In essence, we see Moses, who represents the law, and Elijah, who represents the voices of those who prophesied about Jesus, were both now being fulfilled in and by Jesus, thus they had served and fulfilled their purpose and the focus is shifted to Jesus Christ and Him alone!
This does not mean that a believer becomes an antinomian (one who rejects the law of God), but rather changes the focus on His faith to Jesus and allows the Old Covenant and Prophets to point him or her to Jesus and redemption in Jesus!
This is why your every solution is found in Jesus and not your performance or merit!
Does this mean that performance or behavior no longer matters?
Certainly not! The perspective on it changes, let me explain:
- We no longer need to “do” in order to “get”, we “do” because we “have”
- We no longer need to live by a Godly standard so we can be blessed, we live by a Godly standard because we are blessed
- We don’t go to church, read our Bible and exercise christian disciplines because we’re trying to remain acceptable and pleasing to God, we practice these virtues because we are accepted and pleasing to God in Jesus
- We don’t behave to impress and please God, we behave because we are impressive and pleasing to God in Jesus already!
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