December 23

Text: Matthew 17:1-3

And six days later Jesus *took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and *brought them up to a high mountain by themselves.  And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.  And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.  (NASB)

Matthew saw (when he wrote) the fuller picture of who Jesus was.  The twelve, during Jesus’ earthly stay, saw a continual unfolding of what it meant for Jesus to be the Christ.  From leaving the nets to seeing the resurrected man, their concept of what it meant to be the Christ changed many times.

When Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow him (Matthew 4:18-22), Matthew did not say they saw in Jesus more than an incredible teacher.  John wrote that Phillip understood early that Jesus fulfilled what Moses and the prophets wrote (John 1:45).  Nathaniel, early, called him the son of God and the King of Israel (John 1:49).  However, what those things meant to them is not written.  Was it a physical expectation or an eternal expectation?

Jesus, in revealing himself to the twelve, went from unique teacher with amazing powers to heal (consider Matthew 4:23; 7:29), to the man who was superior to demonic forces (Matthew 8:28-32), to the man who could control natural forces (Matthew 8:23-27), to the man who walked on the sea of Galilee on a stormy night (Matthew 14:24-26), to a transfigured man who spoke to Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:1-3), to a crucified man (Matthew 27:35), to a resurrected man (Matthew 28:5, 6).  There is an enormous difference between recognizing Jesus was the Christ and understanding what it meant for Jesus to be the Christ.  Matthew commonly revealed the twelve were not ready for what they saw/experienced.

For us little has changed.  Go to the street (especially in the southern states of the United States of America).  Ask strangers if Jesus was the Christ.  The probability is high that many would say, “Yes.”  If it were possible to ask all who said yes what it meant to be the Christ, likely you would receive one of two answers.  Answer a: “I do not know.”  Answer b: a variety (not a consensus) of inaccurate ideas.

For a person to say that Jesus is the Christ does not mean that person understands what it means for Jesus to be the Christ.  Our behavior is based on our concepts, not on facts we acknowledge.

Suggestion for reflection: What does it mean to you for Jesus to be the Christ?  (Read Acts 10:34-43.)

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