We have been looking at Peter’s reaction when Jesus was transfigured and Moses and Elijah appeared with Him. We saw how Jesus must be set apart from all else, even all the greatest Old Testament prophets. And this has a profound application for us.
We are “greater” than Moses and Elijah
Matthew 11:11 tells us that the least in the kingdom of God is greater than John the Baptist (the greatest of all the Old Covenant saints). But how is that possible? Very simply, because even John the Baptist could never be a son but could at best only be a servant of God. But even the least in the kingdom of God (one who was just born again) is already a son or daughter of God. Galatians 4:7 – Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.
What a wonderful privilege then it is to be called children of God (1 John 3:1). God needs to open our eyes to see the absolute wonder of being God’s child. Some of us might have heard it so often that this truth has lost its luster. Then the Lord must refresh our hearts to the unique heritage that we have.
In addition, no work of ours as servants of God can ever compare to the immense gift of being called sons and daughters of God. There is a great tendency to evaluate our Christian worth by the reach of our ministry, the number of conference invites, YouTube views, etc. Looking for such validations are clear indications of an Old Covenant mindset. Where we in the New Covenant are “greater” is in the fact that we children of God. So as special as it is to serve in the courts of Almighty God, it is so much greater to be invited into His living quarters, and asked to abide (live) with Him!
This is also echoed with Jesus’ remarkable warning in Luke 10:19-20 – “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”
I hope we notice the stern warning in the beginning of verse 20: DO NOT REJOICE IN THIS. What is Jesus COMMANDING us not to rejoice in? Jesus is commanding us not to rejoice in our God-given authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and to bind the powers of the devil and his demonic forces.
Have we ever meditated on the immensity of that command? First of all, most of us have never exercised spiritual authority over demonic activity, or being miraculously protected from poisonous animals? If we did experience this, we would probably be blogging about this, and using this to share our remarkable “testimony” – of course under the guise of saying that we are sharing this to bring glory to Jesus. I am sure that it would be very hard not give in to thoughts that my spirituality has the stamp of approval from God because of the authority over evil that I just showed.
Yet Jesus’ instructions warn to this very point. He specifically says here that our joy should rather come out of the reality that our names were recorded in heaven. The Message paraphrase says that our agenda for rejoicing comes from what God has done for us, and not what we do for God.
Now also, where are our names recorded in heaven? Revelation 19:10 tells us that our names are in the Book of Life. But I’m not sure if this is an actual book or just a word picture. But there’s one place that our names are recorded: On God’s palm! Isaiah 49:15-16 tells me that the love of God is much greater than the love of a mother towards her newborn child (there is simply no greater picture of love than a mother and her newborn child). So the Holy Spirit is clear – God’s love is infinitely greater than even that. And He proves it by saying, “Look at My palm; My name is inscribedthere!”
So when I get to heaven, I’m not going to go searching for my name in a book. What I would love to do instead is to reverentially but joyously approach the throne of grace and ask to see the palm of God’s Hand. And fall flat on my face and worship this Almighty God who has my name tattooed on His palm. Hallelujah!
Disciples with clouds over their eyes (Matthew 17:5)
We read that the moment Peter suggested that three tabernacles be built for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, a bright cloud overshadowed them (Matthew 17:5). Whenever we approach Scriptures and do not seek to primarily and overwhelmingly see Jesus glorified through Scripture, then a cloud forms overshadowing us. There is a veil that hangs over our spiritual eyes, where we do not see the truths as they should be seen. If we approach the Scriptures out of rote exercise or as a book of rules, a cloud hangs over our eyes(2 Corinthians 3:15-18).
We must be read the Bible with only one purpose: To increasingly see Jesus as the ONLY ONE that matters. The Scriptures are not meant to find promises to satisfy our desires and ambitions, or to get sermons to preach. We search the Scriptures to turn from our selfishness and see Jesus as Lordand our everything (John 5:39-40).
When we turn to seek the Lord alone and face the Lord alone, the Holy Spirit will heal us of our spiritual blindness. He will lift the veil of religiosity that hangs over our eyes, and show us the magnificence and beauty of the risen Lord Jesus Christ.
Listen to Him (Matthew 17:5)!
Here was the critical lesson that God was giving Peter and all disciples: Listen to Jesus!
Stop with your bright ideas on how to get the world to see the beauty of Jesus. You need to just keep listening to Him.
Stop trying to “perfect things with the flesh” (your human reasoning of thinking it’s better to remain on the mountain top with God’s greatest saints). You began your journey as one who was eager to follow Jesus and listen to Him. Don’t stop now and think you’ve got it now. You need to keep listening to Him.