The transfiguration – when Jesus and His three closest associates went to the mountain and saw Moses and Elijah. The disciples went with Jesus, and Luke tells us that they had fallen asleep. They awoke when they saw the glory of God represented by the shining white countenance of Jesus.
Did you notice that God interrupted Peter when he offered to build tents for the three of them?
He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” Matt 17:5 (ESV)
In his excitement to help Jesus, Peter was placing Jesus, Moses and Elijah on the same level. God chastised Peter quite dramatically! Predictably, all three men fell to ground in fear, but Jesus had compassion, helped them up, calmed their nerves and said:
“Rise, and have no fear.” Matt 17:7 (ESV)
Can Jesus touch you today and tell you to have no fear. Can you place whatever is frightening you, worrying you, or keeping you up at night into Jesus’ hands? When you do, He can tell you to have no fear as well.
Back to Moses and Elijah. They were there as representation of the law and the prophets. Elijah was the prophetic forerunner of Jesus.
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” Mal 4:5-6 (ESV)
Matthew tells us that John the Baptist was the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy.
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’ ” Matt 3:1-3 (ESV)
Jesus showed vividly that He came to fulfill the law and the prophets! Luke told us the subject of their conversation.
And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: 31 Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. Luke 9:30-31 (KJV)
Can you imagine how difficult it would have been for Peter, James and John to follow Jesus’ command to tell no one what they had seen until His resurrection?
The other portion of today’s reading that stood out was the directions for godly dispute resolution. It was aimed at resolution within the body of Christ. First, tell the person privately and to their face about their sin. Sometimes people hurt others without realizing it. If he continues in his sin, then and only then are we to talk to him with two or three witnesses – privately. If the problem remains, we are to bring the issue before the church, and if there is no resolution we are to excommunicate (“let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector) the sinner! The goal isn’t embarrassment and punishment, but to remove the problem from the church, minimizing its detrimental influence. If it gets that far, the problem isn’t just the underlying sin – it’s also the hard heart of the sinner. If it goes that far, we then have an obligation to think of that sinner in the same way we think of any unrepentant sinner – a prospect for fellowship in God’s kingdom! Restoration can occur.
If we followed these rules rather than using prayer chains as a means to pass gossip; if we chose to confront people instead of harboring resentment; if we called sin SIN and dealt with it before it tore up families and churches – how much different would our lives be?
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Matt 18:15-17 (ESV)
Jesus pulls no punches. We are to live peaceably as much as possible, but we are responsible for calling sin – sin – and dealing with it. We can’t do our best for the kingdom with sin in our hearts or our churches. We all sin, but the key to this passage is that we look for repentance. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but it’s the only way to maintain a healthy church.
What did you see in today’s reading? Please leave a comment with your insights. We’re less than 100 days from completing our challenge! I congratulate you for continuing through the year. It will be a great feeling to complete the Bible on December 28th. See you next week!