Jesus and Moses' Conversation About Exodus

When Jesus was transfigured (meaning, ‘transformed’) on the mountain, he spoke with Elijah and Moses. But what is fascinating is the topic of their conversation: “They spoke about his exodus” (Luke 9:31, literal translation).

I was struck by this because one of these men speaking to Jesus is the original exodus deliverer himself. He brought God’s people through the Red Sea. He accomplished the exodus. Here on the mount, Moses is speaking with Jesus about an exodus—but it’s a different one. It’s the exodus Moses’ exodus was always pointing to.

Mystery Revealed for Moses

It makes us wonder what it might’ve been like for Moses when he entered into glory, or as he talked with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration. We don’t know how much of God’s plan was revealed to deceased Old Testament saints. We don’t know how much Moses initially understood God’s plan and the coming of the Messiah. But it is fascinating that when Jesus is transfigured, one of the people he talked to was Moses, and their topic of conversation literally was Jesus’ “exodus.”

Might it be that Moses, when he first entered glory—or later on, or when he was talking to Jesus on the mount—realized that the deliverance out of Egypt was only a foreshadow of something else? Might it be that Moses finally discovered that the slavery, the deliverance, the battle, the victory, and then the Promise Land were all pointers—“shadows of the substance” (Colossians 2:17)?

Deliverance Had Come

This is more than probable. We can’t be certain that Moses realized it as soon as he died, or later on, or even right when he was talking to Jesus on the mount. But it’s probable. Their topic of conversation was “exodus.” Moses at some point realized that this exodus by Jesus—this deliverance from sin this God-man was to accomplish—was what his whole life and ministry was pointing to. He was a type; the Antitype had come. The exodus was a sign; the Signified was here speaking.

Some may say that this is speculative. But why would the text specify that Moses was there and use the Greek word for “exodus” when discussing their topic of conversation? Later in this chapter, Jesus resolutely sets his face toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:51). He determines to accomplish the true Exodus. This was always his purpose, his goal: deliverance, exodus, salvation. “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). As Moses delivered God’s people from bondage in Egypt, Jesus now was to accomplish that which the whole Old Testament was always foreshadowing.

The time had come. The true Exodus was soon to occur. Moses, I think, knew it. He was a great leader; the greater version of himself had come (Hebrews 3:1-6). He famously delivered God’s people; the greater Deliver had arrived. On that mount, Moses worshiped him. So should we.