In the little book of Jude, verse 9, we read that there was a dispute between Lucifer and Michael. The disagreement was about the body of Moses. That is all the information provided there. What was involved in this controversy? I offer a possible solution. During the ministry of Jesus we have the unusual occasion of what we call His transfiguration (Mt 17, Mk 9, Lk 9). On the mountain top Jesus’ appearance was wondrously transformed into a shining, glorious presence. Even His clothes took on a glistening white. It must have made an incredible impression. But that is not all. Moses and Elijah suddenly appeared, talking with Jesus about His soon-to-come death. We aren’t told how the apostles knew it was Moses and Elijah. Perhaps Jesus called them by name or maybe they wore name tags. Nor does the text mention if they appeared glorious as well, but inasmuch as Peter suggested constructing a tabernacle for each, I think it is more likely than not.
What does this have to do with Jude 9? Perhaps nothing and perhaps a great deal. First of all, it was the body of Jesus that was transfigured. His face and His clothes are specifically mentioned. Apparently the apostles were allowed a glimpse of what our bodies will be when raised in glory at the resurrection. But what about Elijah and Moses? Elijah is unique in that he never died, but was lifted up to heaven both spirit and body. This would have required a peremptory alteration of Elijah’s body. Its terrestrial state was not suitable for the heavenly spiritual world. Thus, it would seem most likely that Elijah appeared speaking to Jesus in his transformed condition. Anything else would have required that his body be reverse transfigured for this event and then returned to its former glory following. In view of the divine economy, I think Elijah was chosen precisely because he retained both spirit and body. But what of Moses? Moses died and his body was buried by the Lord (Deut 34:5). So how could Moses appear transfigured, talking with Jesus and Elijah? Transfiguration has to do with bodies! The spirit is not transfigured; the body must be transfigured. For Moses to appear on the mountain in similar likeness to Jesus and Elijah, he required his body. Might this be the occasion of the dispute between Michael and Lucifer? Lucifer perhaps brought an accusation against the Lord for raising the body of Moses before time. The power of death was Lucifer’s greatest weapon: “the wages of sin is death”. “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive”. Jesus is the first-fruits of resurrection.