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Matthew 17




SCRIPTURE: Matthew 17

This chapter contains a significant and important story that occurs on what we call The Mount of Transfiguration.  The Bible says Jesus took Peter, James, and John (who were basically Jesus’ inner circle) up this mountain.  And once they got there, Jesus was transfigured.

Transfigured comes from the Greek word that we translate metamorphosis.  Metamorphosis is the process of something taking on a different form (like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly or a sweet, cute, cuddly one year old becoming a two year old).  The transfiguration that Jesus had was not necessarily His becoming something different as much as it was a moment of revealing who He really was.  It was as if His humanity was temporarily pulled back and His divinity was revealed in the form of an almost blinding light.

Then, just as those men were trying to comprehend what was going on with Jesus, Moses and Elijah appeared.  

There is just a ton of stuff that we could talk about surrounding the appearance of Moses and Elijah.  For example, we could talk about how their appearance is undeniable proof of eternal life.  They had been physically gone from this earth for a long time but here they are and doing quite well it seems.  

Another thing that Moses and Elijah bring to the table is their connection to the Old Testament.  Moses represented the Law and Elijah represented the prophets.  Jesus standing there with them represented the fulfillment of both as well as the Way into the new covenant.

In Luke’s account (Luke 9), we are told a little bit about what these men talked about.  Luke 9:31 says they talked about Jesus’ departure that He was about to accomplish in Jerusalem.  The word translated departure is literally exodus.  By the way, Moses should have been an absolute expert on exodus.  

Jesus was not just going to die in Jerusalem.  He was not even just going to be buried in Jerusalem.  He was in fact, preparing to leave Jerusalem by this spiritual exodus which literally means “a way out”.  Here’s a crazy thing.  In 2 Peter 2:15, Peter talked about his impending death in the same way.  He said it would be his exodus.  

This should be one of the great reminders that death for a believer is not the end of existence.  It is an exodus, a release or a way out of, from the bondage of this world into the glorious liberty of heaven.  Now, I have to hurry because I am basically out of space and you are out of time.

Our friend Peter decided the best thing to do was to build three tents or tabernacles for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah.  Obviously, Peter thought those guys might want a place to stay on that mountain.  And I suspect, Peter could think of no better place to be at that moment.

But… There always seems to be a “but” in Bible stories.  A bright cloud (I didn’t make that up.  The Bible calls it a bright cloud.  I’m not sure what that is.  Most of the clouds I have seen are not necessarily bright.  Instead they kind of block out brightness.)  appeared and God spoke out of that cloud.  The message was a reminder that Jesus was indeed God’s Son and they should listen to Jesus (good advice).  

It wasn’t long before Jesus was leading Peter, James, and John down the mountain.  As important as that mountaintop experience was, the work of the ministry would take place in the valley.  Let me leave you with this.  We, too, need those mountain top times but we must never forget the needs in the valley.

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Matthew 16





SCRIPTURE: Matthew 16

There is much to talk about in this chapter.  There is much I want to talk about in this chapter.  But I have decided to use my space today to unpack part of what we read in verses 13-20.  This really is a significant story that has incredible ramifications for the reality of the Christian faith.

The section starts in a bit of an unusual way.  Jesus asks His disciples who people were saying He was.  That would be odd for us to ask our friends who people said we were.  But the identity of Jesus is of paramount importance.  Folks might mistake my identity and never be the worse for it.  But mistaking the identity of Jesus has eternal ramifications.

As you might imagine, the crowd had some answers to the identity of Jesus.  There were answers ranging from John the Baptizer (who had just been executed) to any number of Old Testament prophets.  The point is you have to be careful about listening to the crowd.  The crowd is almost always certain in their answer but the crowd is not always correct.  It is easy to get swept away in the error of the crowd.  So be careful about what crowd you get your info from.

The next question Jesus asked was, “Who do you say I am?” Our friend, Simon, always the one with a quick response to any given situation, stepped up to answer.  He made an absolutely incredible announcement: Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.  This is the basis for our faith.  If Jesus is not the Christ, our faith is in vain.  If Jesus is not the only begotten Son of the living God, our faith is in vain.  

In verse 18, Jesus actually gave Simon a brand new name: Peter.  That sounds a bit odd.  We don’t normally give new names to adults.  But it is a very Biblical thing to do.  Throughout the Bible we find God giving people new names.  Those new names were indicative of the new life, the new relationship, the new future they had because of a personal connection with the one, true God.

I also want to talk a little about what Jesus actually said and what He didn’t say in verse 18.  First of all, Jesus didn’t say that He was going to build His church on Peter.  Our Catholic friends are convinced that is what Jesus said.  But Scripture and even our own logic dictate that that can’t be true.  A church built on a man would crumble when that man died. (By the way, we see this happen.  A lot.)  The church instead is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ.  The rock that Jesus promised to build His church on is the statement that “He is the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

The next thing Jesus said is “the gates of hell shall not prevail against” the church.  That may sound like a description.  I think it is more of a mandate.  Here’s what I mean.  Jesus didn’t say that hell wouldn’t attack the church or that hell couldn’t invade the church.  That happens a lot.  What Jesus said is that when the church rises up and moves forward, nothing can stop her – not even the gates of hell.  The church Jesus built is designed to be an unstoppable force.  In fact, the only thing I know that can stop a church is the folks in the church refusing to be the church that Jesus built.

As this section of this chapter comes to an end, we are told that we are given incredible authority and responsibility.  May we be incredible stewards of that.  May we represent Jesus well.


Posted by Joe Ligon with

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