March 20 | Matthew 17:1-13
by Pr. Dave Mann
The first thing I notice in this text is that the disciples, once again, appear in a bad light. They don’t get it! The critics of the Bible often allege that the early followers of Jesus simply made up the stories in the gospels in order to establish their own religion. However, think about it. If you or I were to make up stories to start our own religious movement, would we make ourselves look so clueless time and time again? I think not. Why did Matthew and the other gospel writers write what appears in the gospels? Simply because that’s the way it happened, no matter how it makes them look! These events are true.
Second, sometimes we think we are doing Jesus a favor by supposedly raising him to a position of prominence next to someone or something else that people of our society honor as worthy of praise. Moses and Elijah were certainly great leaders in prior times, held in high esteem by the Jesus community. So, for Peter to suggest that three shelters built to commemorate this great moment, they surely intended it to be a compliment to Jesus. Peter wanted Jesus to be honored in that they perceived him to be co-equal these two greats of the people of Israel — Moses and Elijah.
But when Peter said these things, a bright cloud covered them and they heard a voice, announcing, “This is my Son!” The three are NOT co-equal, NOT sharing honor, NOT raised to similar glory. The voice continues with, “Listen to Him!”—NOT “Listen to them.”
The response of the three disciples was terror! No doubt they sensed their error. “What did we get wrong? We thought we were doing a good thing, but we messed up big time!”
Then, they saw no one but Jesus only. The glory of Jesus caused the human glory of the others (even honorable people by human standards) to pale and to fade away. I wonder if Peter, James, and John remembered of the words of Isaiah:
I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols (Is 42:8).
I will not share my glory with another (Is 48:11).
I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God (Is 45:4).