God’s Word for You
2 Peter 1:16-18 Christ is coming
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Sunday, June 26, 2022
16 We did not follow cleverly invented myths when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
Peter is not talking about the first coming of Jesus Christ. No one in the decade Peter was living in would have doubted that Christ had been on earth. It would be like someone today denying that Churchill or Kennedy had been alive. Of course Christ had come to earth. His birth by Mary his mother proved that every bit as much as my own birth by my dear mother Karen Smith proved my own coming into the world. No—and Christians sometimes mistakenly miss this point—the coming Peter speaks of is the parousia, the Second Coming; it is Christ’s return for the Last Judgment. This is also the power that all unbelievers must fear and that the devil and his demons are terrified of, as they show with their words again and again: “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” (Matthew 8:29; Mark 3:11; Mark 5:7), and “I beg you, don’t torture me!” (Luke 8:28).
In his first coming, Christ arrived without much glory or majesty. He came humbly. True, every baby has a humble beginning, but Jesus was not born as a king might be, with a palace physician and silks to welcome him, trumpets to herald his arrival. But as you think of the manger in the stable, do not forget what the shepherds saw in the fields of Bethlehem: Angels with them in the fields, and the glory of the Lord surrounding them all as the angels declared his praises.
Another glimpse of the true and glorious majesty of Christ was seen by Peter along with John and James on the mount of Transfiguration. This is the scene to which Peter turns next.
17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my beloved Son; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We heard this voice ourselves. It was sent from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.
Peter turns now to begin his lesson about Scripture and inspiration. He begins with the source of all things: God himself. Peter heard the voice of the Father. This was on the mount of Transfiguration, when Peter went up with Jesus, James and John, and Jesus revealed himself in all his divine splendor. Peter’s point here is not the splendor, but the word of God. It began with the Father saying: “This is my beloved Son.” All throughout Israel’s history, the Father drew attention to himself and to his word and his will. “See that you do all I command you,” he said to Moses. “Do not add to it or take away from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32). And he condemned Israel: “You have not paid attention or listened to me” (Jeremiah 35:15).
So now, for God to say: “Here is someone else, listen to him,” was an amazing, staggering, stunning change. It is not as if he said, “I’ll appear in a different guise; then you’ll listen to me.” Nor did he say, “I’m done trying; I’m giving up on you, maybe you’ll obey my Son instead.” No, the coming of the Son was always the point, always the goal for our salvation. So the Almighty God says: “This is my Son, listen to him. I love him.” All of our salvation rests on the shoulders of the Son, and on no one else. Formerly in the history of the church, heresies rose up in which people thought that their own good works would produce salvation, or they wanted to add their good works in some way to Christ. But when it comes to our salvation, adding to Christ is the same as multiplying by zero; it nullifies everything. “The longings of the wicked will come to nothing” (Psalm 112:10). We are saved by faith in Christ alone, and nothing else (Ephesians 2:8). When Christ warns, “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6), he also means that the way through him is shut to anyone who seeks some other way. Luther explains Jesus’ words this way: “I will bolt the door to bar your entrance—not because I would not be glad to admit you, but because you must come by another way if you would come to Christ and have this food and drink. Your wisdom will never do it. If you are to come to me, the Father must give you to me. You will not give me anything; there is nothing in you or within your power. Therefore it is the Father who must give you to me. Do not approach me with your keen reason and great wisdom, for you would be offering yourselves and would not need the Father. This wisdom, that would teach God how to govern the world, is the very devil and properly belongs to the abyss of hell. If you bring yourself, then the Father need not bring you” (LW 23:52). If anyone wants to find a path to heaven apart from Christ, God will not stop him, but the path does not exist. If anyone claims to know a path to heaven apart from Christ, they have been taught this secret way by the devil, and it does not lead where they think it leads.
The voice of God, the voice Peter heard and which told the world to listen to the Son, is the voice to pay attention to. David warns: “If you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Psalm 95:7-8). Listen to the word of God, not the opinions of men or women, and be especially wary of anyone bringing any gospel apart from salvation in Jesus Christ. In him alone we have forgiveness. In him alone we have everlasting life.
Pastor Timothy Smith