There’s no question about the superiority of Jesus as far as the author of the book of Hebrews is concerned. He asserts the importance of Jesus over all the characters and rituals of the Old Testament repeatedly. At the transfiguration, Jesus appeared in all his radiant glory along with the personages of Moses and Elijah. I pointed out previously how Jesus out shined Moses and how the author of Hebrews said that Jesus was worthy of “much more” glory than Moses. Even Moses himself was aware of Jesus’ superiority in his prophecy about the “better” prophet, Jesus, would come and be God’s mouthpiece to them. Peter seems to have missed the obvious message from the appearance of Jesus with Moses and Elijah because in Luke 9:33, “Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah’ – not knowing what he said.”

I suspect that part of what Peter “did not know” was that the purpose of the appearance of Jesus with Moses and Elijah was intentionally designed to highlight the superiority of Jesus over the Law (Moses) and over the Prophets (Elijah). We’ve already talked about the obvious superiority of Jesus over Moses but what about the Prophet Elijah? The Old Testament Prophets brought God’s message to the people. Hebrews 1:1 teaches us that God used to speak to us through his Prophets in various ways. The various ways included signs and wonders. Elijah and Elisha were big at performing both. It continues “but in these days God speaks to us through His Son.” The Old Testament ends with a final word from the Prophets from God. In Malachi 4:5, Malachi speaks for God who says, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.” He spoke from God! But who was this new Elijah?

In Matthew 11:13-14 Jesus explains the identify of John the Baptist. He says, “For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.” An interesting study is the similarities between Elijah and John the Baptist. I’ve argued that John patterned his life after Elijah. They ate the same wild foods. They lived in the wilderness. The dressed the same. They both contended with immorality in the land. There are many other similarities as well but the point is this new Elijah figure, John the Baptist, knew Jesus was the most important one. When the people asked John if he was the Messiah, John replied, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” Moses was the prophet who heard God on behalf of the people. Elijah was the prophet that spoke for God to the people, but Jesus, the living Word of God, did both. God tells Moses in Deuteronomy 15:18, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.” He then adds a warning in verse 19, “And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.” We better listen to Jesus because he’s greater than the Law giver himself and the prophet Elijah who represents all the prophets.