Thursday, April 7, 2016

Day 40: Matt. 17:1-13 & Psalm 40 - Is Seeing Believing? Why did Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus?

Today's Reading: Matthew 17:1-13 & Psalm 40

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Is Seeing Believing?
Why did Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus?

And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 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.” - Matthew 17:2-5, ESV

"Seeing is believing," the old saying goes. Many Christians even buy into this worldly proverb and think that is they could only have been there when Jesus walked the earth, then they would be stronger and more faithful disciples. Sometimes skeptics who doubt Christ will say almost the same thing for different reasons: "If only I could see Jesus perform some miracles, then I would believe." 

One of the major lessons we can draw from the Gospels is that seeing is not believing, but rather the opposite is true: Believing is seeing. In other words, true insight requires real faith. Most of the people who saw Jesus do miracles did not believe, and the religious leaders had Him executed even though they had seen clear and undeniable evidence of His divinity. 

Here in today's passage, we have one of the most remarkable events in the life and ministry of Jesus, one that both Peter and John would later recall in their letters. The three disciples who were closest to Jesus were given a rare and special, privileged glimpse of the glory and kingdom of Jesus. And yet, even here, on the mountaintop, with Jesus shining as white as light, it seems Peter missed the point and so God the Father spoke to them directly from the bright glory cloud.

Peter saw Jesus with Moses and Elijah and immediately wanted to construct tabernacles for all three of them. So, if Peter missed the point, what was the point of having Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus on the mountain? Very simply, they were there to testify and affirm that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah.

Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets, respectively, and thus represent the history of revelation and the Scriptures themselves. If you could select two people who represent the testimony of "the Law and the Prophets" (a common way of referring to Scripture in Jesus' day), it would be Moses and Elijah. But rather than seeing the Law and the Prophets testifying about Jesus, Peter just saw three spiritual superheroes to worship. 

And so the voice of God came directly to clarify: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" God didn't say, "These are my beloved sons," but He uniquely identified and testified about Jesus. 

We must take the available revelation from God in the Holy Scriptures and, by faith, see that they are showing us and telling us the truth about Jesus.  If we will not trust the testimony of God in the Scriptures, nothing we see can will a difference. Faith lovingly trusts and receives God's Word and sees Jesus throughout.

Prayer Based on Psalm 40:

Psalm 40 is another of my favorite psalms.

By Your grace, I waited patiently for You, Lord;
    You inclined to me and heard my cry.
You drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog of my sin and shame, guilt and condemnation,
and set my feet upon the Rock of Christ,
    making my steps secure.
You put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to You, my God.
Lord, may many see and fear,
    and put their trust in You for what You have done for me.

May I be blessed as a man who makes
    You, the Lord, my trust always.
May I never turn to the proud,
    to those who go astray after a lie!
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
    your wondrous deeds and Your thoughts toward us;
    none can compare with You!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
    yet they are more than can be told.

In sacrifice and offering You have not delighted,
    but You have sent Your Son, who came as a willing servant.
Burnt offering and sin offering
    You have not required.
Then Christ said, “Behold, I have come;
    in the scroll of the book it is written of Me:
I delight to do Your will, O my God;
    Your law is within My heart.
Father, I praise You for the perfect obedience 
    and willing sacrifice of Your Son.

Let me always tell the glad news of deliverance
    in the great congregation;
Let me never restrain my lips from speaking Your glory and grace,
    as You will grant by Your grace, O Lord.
Let me not hide Your deliverance within my heart;
    Let me always speak of Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
Let me never conceal Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness
    from Your great congregation.

As for You, O Lord, You will not restrain
    Your mercy from me;
Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness will
    ever preserve me!
For evils have encompassed me
    beyond number;
my iniquities have overtaken me,
    and I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head;
    my heart fails me.

Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!
    O Lord, make haste to help me!
Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether
    who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
    who delight in my hurt!
Let those be appalled because of their shame
    who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”

But may all who seek You
    rejoice and be glad in You;
may those who love Your salvation
    say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
As for me, I am poor and needy,
    but You, Lord, take thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;

    do not delay, O my God!

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