Reading: Matthew 16-17
Summary: Two crucial events dominate chapters 16 and 17. First is Peter’s confession of Jesus as being the Son of God. This event plays a critical role in this Gospel as Matthew shows that people thought quite highly of Jesus, yet of critical importance was his true identity as the very Son of God, not just a prophet or some great spiritual leader. Equally vital was that His disciples come to grips with the fact that Jesus would indeed die. His work on earth involved His death, though at this time the disciples did not understand.
The second crucial event is the transfiguration of chapter 17. So much needed to be shaped and corrected about the disciples’ understanding of Jesus as the Messiah and the role He must play. That certainly involved knowing the correct relationship between Him and the Law and the Prophets—as represented by the presence of Moses and Elijah. The importance of this event is emphasized by the interjection of the audible voice of God.
God Is Not Obliged
I like God, no, I love God. To say I’m impressed with Him and His Son would be a huge understatement. Consequently, I want to show my admiration and appreciation for Him and to Him. I want to honor Him and praise Him. I want Him to know not only what I feel about Him, but how strongly I feel that way.
What should I do?
Maybe I think it does not matter what I do as long as I do something and do it sincerely. Maybe I think that God is just happy with my attitude and knows how I feel and whatever I wish to offer to Him as a means of giving expression to my strong feelings is wonderful to Him.
I would probably think that if it weren’t for Peter’s experience on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17). He was so overwhelmed by what He saw: the brilliantly transformed Jesus shining as bright as the sun and the appearance of two of the foremost figures in Israel’s history—Moses and Elijah. He could hardly contain himself and suggested three tabernacles be constructed right on that spot, not only to commemorate these great men, but the event he, James, and John had just witnessed. What a marvelous idea!
That’s when God spoke up. That in itself should arrest our attention—any time God spoke audibly for men to hear is a highly noteworthy occasion. He stopped Peter dead in his tracks. No doubt the impetuous apostle’s sentiment was appreciated, but it was misdirected. A physical monument was not the kind of thing God was interested in. What would most appropriately express adoration and praise would be to listen to Jesus above all others and above all else.
God is not obliged to receive our self-devised, tradition bound, innovative means of honoring Him. We are, however, obliged to listen to His Son.