Jesus and Moses represent two of the most essential religious or Abrahamic figures in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. They performed great deeds while fulfilling prophecies. But what is the difference between Jesus and Moses?
While Moses is regarded as the Israelites’ leader and caregiver, as recorded in the Old Testament, Jesus Christ represents the crucial figure for all Christianity. He is deemed the Son of God and the Messiah in the New Testament. Notably, Moses is known for his faith-led actions in leading the Israelites out of Egypt across the Red Sea, and he was given the 10 commandments on Mount Sinai. On the other hand, Jesus Christ is known for the miracles he performed and for his teachings, followed by his crucifixion and resurrection.
But there is a lot more about Jesus and Moses, and this article gives insights about them in greater detail.
General comparison between Jesus and Moses
While Jesus Christ and Moses were both regarded as mediators of God and humankind, Moses was humankind’s mediator in the Old Testament under the covenant laws, while Jesus Christ mediated by shedding his blood under the New Testament’s covenants.
But there is a lot more that set apart these two mediators – while Moses’ main role was to set free the Children of Israel from Egypt, Jesus’ role was to save mankind from sins, albeit in the modern world. Moses fulfilled his purpose by helping the Israelites in bondage cross the Red Sea, where they were punished for their beliefs, and he was also responsible for bringing the Ten Commandments to the Israelites and the rest of the world.
Jesus Christ was sent to earth as the Messiah and savior of humankind, albeit under the New Testament. Through miracles and his Sacrifices, Jesus reminded mankind of the importance of faith in God. He gave humanity reasons to believe in God and their salvation, thanks to the many sacrifices he made and the teachings he gave. In many ways, both Jesus and Moses led their people out of the bondage of sin, setting them free from hell.
How was Jesus similar to Moses?
Jesus Christ and Moses had a lot in common, starting from the fact that they were both sent to earth to save humankind from sin and hell, while also making them believe that faith in God is all that they needed to become whole again, to be saved, and to enter the Kingdom of God.
Birth and Origin
Now, while they were alive in different eras, Jesus and Moses were both Hebrews, and it is recorded that both men were born to be rulers when they were younger. Both men were also born at a time when the reigning kings had passed decrees to have all little boys killed – which is why Jesus was born when his parents, Mary, and Joseph, were traveling to hide from the kings’ decrees, and he was born near a cow pen and was placed on a manger. Moses was also born when the king had commanded that all firstborn sons be killed, and his parents placed him on a reed basket, where he floated away until he was saved. Though different, they had similar early childhood stories. Also, both Jesus Christ and Moses lived in Egypt as children.
Go spoke to both of them.
Away from their childhoods, God spoke to both Jesus and Moses, and when this happened, the people around them heard the voice of God speaking to them. Jesus and Moses both delivered humankind – Moses offered physical deliverance to the Israelites, while Jesus’ deliverance was to both the Israelites and the Gentiles, albeit spiritually.
Also, both men performed mighty miracles and were born to offer redemption to humanity. They also brought the laws and covenants that believers live by – Moses was given the Commandments or the laws of the deeds, while Jesus Christ taught the laws of faith. As is expected of great religious leaders, they were opposed by many people.
Ministry on Earth
At some point in their ministries, Jesus and Moses both fasted for 40 days while also spending time in the wilderness. Additionally, they both had a pillar of cloud descend upon and around them.
Jesus and Moses were also great teachers sent by God to share his message of redemption. Jesus sent 70 disciples, while Moses prepared 70 elders to help spread the gospel.
What does it mean that Jesus was greater than Moses?
While Jesus and Moses are influential religious figures that made a great impact in Christianity and Judaism, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, Jesus is considered a greater figure than Moses because Jesus is believed to have had all the authority of both heaven and earth, and that He Is God. This is unlike the idea that while Moses was a great leader, it is suggested that Moses had been sent to earth to speak authoritatively on behalf of God, but not as God.
Christians believe that Jesus Christ is much greater than Moses since Jesus Christ is regarded as the Son of God and the Messiah. On the other hand, Moses was only considered a prophet of God. At the same time, Jesus is believed to be greater than Moses because Jesus came to fulfill many prophecies made in the Old Testament, prophesies about the Messiah – these are things that Moses didn’t do or come to fulfill.
On top of all that, it is believed that Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice made for all of humanity’s sins, rather permanently. However, the sacrifices made by Moses under Mosaic law were temporary.
Lastly, it is believed that Jesus Christ was the reason behind the ministries that Moses and Elijah started. In Deuteronomy 34:12, among other Old Testament teachings, it’s implied that God referred to Moses as his servant. Still, in the New Testament, during Jesus’ baptism, God spoke from heaven directly (Matthew 3:17) and said that Jesus Christ is His Son, whom he is pleased with. This made it clear that Jesus was the Son of God, naturally someone greater than the servant of God, Moses.
Theological differences between Jesus and Moses?
There are numerous theological differences between Moses and Jesus Christ, showing in detail how different but similar these two men are.
Messiah vs. Prophet
For starters, Jesus is regarded as the Messiah and the Son of God, while Moses is only deemed a prophet. This is believed to be because Jesus came to fulfill several Old Testament prophesies about the Messiah. Moses didn’t fulfill any prophecies.
Additionally, while Jesus Christ is deemed the ultimate sacrifice made for all humankind, sacrifices recorded in the Old Testament under Mosaic Law were only temporary.
Divine Figure vs. Human
The other significant difference between Jesus and Moses is that Jesus Christ is believed to have been 100% God and also 100% Human, but Moses was only human and not a god in human form. As a result, Jesus had a unique relationship with God thanks to His incarnate nature and word. Therefore, he was deemed the mediator in the New Testament and, subsequently, the new covenants. Jesus is also considered an ultimate revelation of the Will of God and His being. However, Moses was a mere prophet that received God’s revelations.
Jesus and Moses are also differentiated by their teachings. Jesus taught about love, inner transformation, and forgiveness, while Moses’s teachings focused on the importance of observing laws and the regulations given by God. Moses’ teachings were guided by the fact that he had received the 10 commandments, and he was guided to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, where they’d been enslaved. Jesus also taught about God’s nature and was sent to earth as the savior of all mankind.
With the different teachings in mind, Moses is more of a lawgiver whose laws and teachings, also called the Torah, became the foundation for all Jewish laws. On the contrary, the teachings of Jesus were merely fulfillments of the laws, nor replacements of the existing laws. Moses spoke God’s word and performed miracles – Exodus 32 and Numbers 11:2 & 21:7.
For all Christians, Jesus is regarded as the ultimate sacrifice to humanity because He sacrificed himself for the sake of the sins made by humankind through death and his resurrection. These sacrifices brought eternal life and salvation to believers. On the other hand, Moses’ sacrifices represent the revelations of God’s laws, as well as his role in guiding the Israelites from slavery.
As suggested in Numbers 12, Moses made different sacrifices and performed several sacrificial rituals that symbolized the purpose and symbolism of blood. The sacrifices made by Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament teachings, implied in Jeremiah 31:33 and Luke 22:20.
While both men fulfilled the promises or prophesy of the past, even performing miracles, Jesus came to fulfill the laws implied in Matthew 5:17, and his final blood sacrifice on the cross represented the prophecy that the Messiah would overcome death – Hebrews 10:1-18.
Fasting and prayer
Deuteronomy 9 suggests that Moses spent 40 years growing and maturing his faith in the Midian land. He spent an additional 40 days/nights at Mt. Sinai, where he received the laws of the land, then 40 more days/nights as he interceded for the Israelites. He also spent an additional 40 years out in the wilderness, waiting for the Israelites to get to the Promised land.
How many years after Moses did Jesus come?
Since the bible doesn’t have any specifics regarding the life and the times of Moses, it is almost impossible to say precisely how long it had been after Moses’ time that Jesus Christ came to earth.
However, the overall consensus or belief is that Moses was alive during the 13th or maybe the 14th century BCE, while Jesus is believed to have been born in the 1st Century CE. There are no exact dates, however, which is why it is roughly estimated that Jesus was alive between 1 CE and 4 BCE, thanks to the fact that Jesus’ birth took place when King Herod ruled. King Herod died in the 4th century BCE, making this timeline more accurate.
It’s estimated that Jesus was born about 1500 years after the time of Moses.
Does Jesus uphold the laws of Moses?
Jesus upheld some but challenged and reinterpreted a number of the laws created by Moses. This is often seen in how Jesus affirmed the Ten Commandments among several other Mosaic laws by teaching believers and His followers to love God with all their hearts, mind, and souls (Matthew 22:37-40). He also commanded his followers to love their neighbors. These two are part of the 10 Commandments, and in Matthew 5:17-20 it’s further implied that Jesus taught the laws of Moses and reiterated that the Mosaic laws were valid, so Christians and his followers needed to follow the laws.
In some parts of the New Testament, however, Jesus reinterpreted and challenged some elements of Mosaic Law by criticizing laws such as the ones where the religious leaders commanded strict adherence to the laws while ignoring the spiritual needs of their followers. So, in Mark 2:27-28 and Matthew 19:3-9, it’s implied that Jesus taught about the importance of the observance of the Sabbath and things like divorce while encouraging leaders to be more lenient and compassionate.
Therefore, in many ways, the teachings by Jesus Christ weren’t aimed at abolishing Mosaic laws but at bringing a new understanding or interpretation of the new and existing laws. And Christianity sees Jesus as the Messiah sent to fulfill some of the laws.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.