2 Peter 1:16-18
Greetings, everyone! Grace to you in our risen Lord Jesus Christ, and welcome to Thursday’s edition of EDiBS, where we’re beginning to hit the downward slope of our week together as we gather for some study and fellowship today. I hope you’re finding the time you spend here profitable for your growth in the knowledge of the Scriptures and in the growth of your faith; my great longing is always for those two things to be happening among us as we give ourselves over to the teaching of God’s Word. During today’s time we’ll be starting to wrap up the last several verses of 2 Peter 1, and I pray that you’ll benefit from our examination of the text. Let’s pray as we begin.
Lord Jesus, we thank you for the day that you’ve created for us today – a day to live and move and have our being in you, a day to recall the beauty and practicality of your promises to us, and a day to behold you and to worship you as our God and Savior. We ask that you bless us as we open your Word. Teach us, correct us, rebuke us, and train us in righteousness, that we may be equipped for every good work you’ve prepared in advance for us to do as your people. This we pray in your precious and saving name, amen.
As we get started today, we begin to come into the main theme of Peter’s letter to the scattered, persecuted church: a defense of the message of the Gospel in the face of false teachers. Our focus: eyewitness accounts of Jesus and His glory.
2 Peter 1:16-18
16We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." 18We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
I mentioned to you some time ago, years ago now in fact, that on our family hobby farm in southwest Missouri there was an old, spring-fed pond at the edge of the woods. It had a great history as a local fishing hole. The funny thing, though, is that we never caught anything in it. Lots of people told us when we bought the place that there were fish in there; we regularly saw a lot of activity on the surface of the water at the times of day you’d expect fish to be feeding; but whenever we tried, we were never able to bring anything out of that water on the end of a fishing pole but weeds. One fateful day, however, we finally found proof that the rumors were true. After a big rain caused water to flow over the spillway of the dam, we saw one of our dogs proudly carrying a wriggling catfish in her mouth. At first we thought it had come from the creek across the road, but when I went to the pasture below the dam where the water emptied from the spillway, imagine my surprise to see some fish flopping around in the grass! We finally saw with our own eyes that what people had been telling us for two years was true: there were fish in that old pond after all.
Verse 16: In today’s reading, Peter begins to mount a defense of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, and he sets things up by saying that far from being a big fish story, the Gospel message is verifiably, demonstrably true. In verse 16 he starts by distinguishing it from a cleverly invented story. In the Greek, that word refers to a mythical fable about gods and miracles, and Peter says that, quite the contrary, everything that he has made known about the Lord Jesus actually happened and that significantly, he and others were eyewitnesses of His majesty. Now, the reason Peter is speaking like this is because there is already at this time a large contingency of false teachers who are either distorting or trying to entirely discredit the message of salvation in Christ. Not wanting the church to fall prey to these inaccuracies, Peter goes back to the beginning of his affiliation with Jesus and recounts for them how the Lord proved Himself to be the Messiah.
Verse 17: Specifically, Peter harkens back to the event of the Transfiguration of our Lord, where Jesus showed Himself to Peter James and John on the mountain in all of His glory, and the voice of God the Father affirmed His Sonship; the fact that Jesus was one in essence with Him. To refresh our memories about that event, let’s read it from the 17th chapter of Matthew:
1After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. 4Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." 5While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" 6When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7But Jesus came and touched them. "Get up," he said. "Don't be afraid." 8When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. 9As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, "Don't tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."
Verse 18: It would be easy for Peter to give testimony about the authoritative teaching of Jesus or to talk about the many miracles he saw the Lord do over the course of His three- year earthly ministry. But false teachers and magicians could show some semblance of those things themselves. It was the Transfiguration that proved Jesus’ deity in His earthly ministry, just as it was His resurrection from the dead and His ascension that proved His deity in the aftermath of His crucifixion. No religious figure and no spurious teacher of false religion could ever make such a claim for themselves. And what we want to notice here is that Peter emphatically states that when this event took place, he and his companions both saw and heard what transpired there. For them it was a confirmation of the prophetic Word of God, and so, says Peter, it is for the rest of us as well.
As we wrap up, I pray that you are someone who knows not simply what you believe, but why you believe it. When it comes to the Christian faith, there is more solid evidence to support its reliability than any other world philosophy or belief system conceived by man. From manuscript evidence to archaeology, from fulfilled prophecy to the sheer weight of statistical probability, Christianity makes the grade where nothing else can. God has not called you to blind faith, and you were never meant to check your brains at the door. Be thinking about that as you go through your day, and God bless you richly as you meditate on His precious promises to you! Take care, and I’ll see you again next time!