Throughout the Old Testament we’ve listened intently for the word of the LORD: what does God think about what’s going on? This is important because the LORD is the primary character of this Bible; He is the subject. At times He’s spoken directly; at others, He’s communicated through prophets; at still others He delivers signs that confirm His power and expectations. In today’s first episode, we get all three.
Jesus leads Peter, James and John up a high mountain. On that mountain, Jesus’ face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as light…Moses and Elijah appeared, talking with Him. There was a bright cloud, and for the second time in this Gospel, there was a voice: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
The signs, the prophets, the voice of God…all at once focused on Jesus. Any questions about whether Jesus’ truly fulfills the Law and the Prophets, for Matthew, are settled. The disciples’ terror is matched by Jesus’ reassuring echo of the LORD’s words to Joshua: “Rise, and have no fear.”
The remainder of the chapter moves quickly. Descending the mountain, Jesus finds His disciples’ miniscule faith unable to displace a demon. This episode is sandwiched between two reminders of Jesus’ impending suffering. And it concludes with Jesus agreeing to pay the Temple tax – but not because He has to.
Chapter 18 is driven by two questions: “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”… and, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?” Notice that the bridge between these two discussions is teaching about how a disciple should handle it “If your brother sins against you…” While we often hear this passage as isolated instruction for confronting sin, it’s important to see that it’s within a context: between humbling oneself like a child, and forgiving your brother from your heart.
Our verse for this week is Psalm 19:4: Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
Matthew 17 and 18. Now let’s read it!
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.