Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Matthew Chapter 17

Quick refresher: remember yesterday we talked about Peter’s Confession of Faith(16:16) and how it was the first part of Jesus revealing his full Identity to his apostles. Well, today, as we read and pray with Chapter 17 we see the second, and now the terminal fullness of that Revelation. Jesus now takes Peter, James and John to the top of a mountain and is there Transfigured before them. You know the story: levitation, dazzling face, white clothes, Voice (God the Father) from the clouds. But listen to the voice from the cloud:  “This is my Beloved Son”(v. 5). Couple that with the fact that Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus and we now have the fullest Revelation of Jesus’s Identity: He is the Beloved Son of God the Father. With respect to ancient culture, to be your father’s son, meant a lot!  It meant you were nearly the same person! This is huge! Furthermore, there is an explicit revelation of the Trinity: God the Father in the Voice; God the Holy Spirit in the Cloud; and God the Son in Jesus Christ lifted up. Finally, Jesus’s inclusion with Moses and Elijah completes the promises made to the ancient Israelites in the Old Testament. Jesus appears with Elijah and Moses to symbolize that He is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Law (Moses) and all the prophecies of the Old Testament prophets (Elijah).

Also in this chapter Jesus heals a sick boy (vv.14-21) and gives us a new teaching about civil authority and our responsibilities in the public sphere (vv. 24-27). There is also a brief statement by Jesus about his own Death and Resurrection (vv. 22-23). There is a classic theological debate about how much Jesus knew about his own life and death and resurrection as he ministered for three years in Galilee. Both sides of the debate have good insights and ultimately, the argument can go either way. Although at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. Jesus’s prediction here is not for him, but for his disciples and Apostles. Jesus is not pointing to himself, but as is the case with his miracles and teachings, he is pointing to the greatness of God the Father who accomplishes all things for the salvation of the human race.

Point for Prayer
“Transfigured Lord, I join Peter, James and John in adoring your glory. In my daily life I forget the attitudes of awe and reverence. I should know that when I reverence your glorious presence I will also reverence myself and the mystery of others. I am grateful for the gift of reverence. May your glory ever stand before my spirit”(from The Kingdom and the Glory, by Father Alfred McBride).

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