This week the Church of England at least is reflecting upon the Transfiguration
(Matthew 17 vs 1-9)
But did you know that Moses was also transfigured when he went up the mountain to spend time with God? The Israelites were so terrified that Moses had to cover his face so they wouldn't see it shining. (Exodus 34 vs 29-35)
This set me thinking about Moses and Jesus
Jesus is sometimes referred to as the second Moses but that doesn’t really capture the heart of the relationship between the two. I prefer to think of Jesus as the fulfilment of the promise that was in Moses.
Moses returned to Egypt after spending 40 years as a Shepherd to deliver God’s people out of slavery. Jesus said "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin……. if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Moses led God’s people through the Red Sea and there is much to be made of that in the symbolism of Baptism and re-birth. In the desert the Israelites quickly ran out of food, so Moses interceded on their behalf and God sent Manna – the bread of heaven. Jesus said "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
Later the Israelites ran out of water, so again Moses interceded. God told Moses to strike rock at Horeb with his staff and when he did so a spring appeared. Jesus said to the Samaritan woman "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
Moses gave to God’s people the commandments written on tablets of stone. Jesus said “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another”
There are many other parallels between Moses and Jesus, and one of those is demonstrated in the two readings I linked to above. Both go up a mountain to be with God; both are transfigured by His presence. I don’t really blame the Israelites for being terrified by the sight of Moses appearing out of the cloud of God’s presence with his face shining with unearthly radiance. It is perfectly understandable that Moses should veil his face, but Paul picks up on the symbolism of this act. The veil that Moses put over his face is symbolic of the veil across the hearts of God’s people when they read the Law – a barrier to comprehension and understanding. But, Paul tells us, just as Jesus’ radiance was revealed at his transfiguration, so he removes the veil from our hearts – and we are enlightened!
Jesus came to fulfil the Law of Moses, to unveil the hearts of God’s people and to enlighten them. In the communion or Eucharist we celebrate the remembrance of the last supper when he took bread and shared it with his Disciples, saying “Take, eat; his is my body, given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” He is the bread of heaven and the true vine. And like Moses he leads us to the promised land – the Kingdom of God, which is heaven. And heaven is not some far away place with harps and fluffy clouds, somewhere up in the sky, the Kingdom of God is everywhere that Jesus is King. It is in our hearts and in our minds. It is in every act of love. It is in every act of obedience to the will of God. The Kingdom of God is here! Today is an opportunity to renew our commitment to make our lives an expression of his Kingdom – an expression of his love. For this is truth that Jesus unveiled – this is the heart of his Glory.