Pastor Randy’s Top 66 – 2 Peter
“We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” 2 Peter 1:16
Peter’s Second Epistle is very similar to the Letter of Jude; some verses are nearly identical, and the reason for this is that they were both writing about the same subject – false teachers in and around the church – and the scholarly consensus is that Peter had read Jude’s Letter and because Jude said certain things so well, Peter used those same points to get his message across.
2 Peter 1:14 tells us that Peter was expecting to die soon under the heavy persecution of Nero: “….because I know that I will soon put it aside…”, referring to his body. Knowing that he was going to die soon, Peter wanted to warn the Christians of the false teachers that would arise in their midst, so Peter wanted the Christians to “make their election sure”. In other words, Peter wanted them to dig in, and live the transformed life that Christ had given to them by their conversion and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And in case these false teachers said anything against the authenticity of the apostles as anointed and called teachers of the Word, Peter shares with them these verses (today’s verse – verse sixteen, and the next two verses) as proof that what they (Peter’s Christian readers) have experienced in Christ is the absolute truth.
Let’s look more closely at Peter’s words in verse sixteen:
“We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you
about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”
Surely these false teachers – as critics and skeptics of Christianity have done for two thousand plus years – would deny the supernatural appearance of Jesus Christ, and His claim to be the promised Messiah, as well as deny His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of the Father. How often have you and I heard people say that the Bible is just a bunch of fairy tales and/or exaggerated stories that were put together piecemeal for the sake of suppressing and controlling the ignorant masses? But what does Peter say regarding that? He anticipates what the skeptics and false teachers would say by immediately going to their supposed coup de grace: He tells the Christians that he and the other apostles – and now those reading who are Christians (including us) have not been following clever invented stories, or as other versions say ‘fairy tales’ or ‘fables’. And the obvious reason these stories about Jesus aren’t ‘cleverly invented stories’ is because Peter – and many others – were eyewitnesses to these spiritually life-changing events.
The Old Testament said (and it certainly carried into the New Testament) that in order to prove the truth regarding a matter, whether it was the proof of a crime, or validation of an event or comment made by someone, there had to be two or three trustworthy witnesses that could verify the event, comment, crime, etc. We read in Deuteronomy 19:15-19a,
One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any
crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.
If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse someone of a
crime, the two people involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the Lord before the priests and the judges who
are in office at the time. The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against a fellow Israelite,then do to the false witness
as that witness intended to do to the other party.
Two or three witnesses are necessary to validate the authenticity of an event, in this case, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. How many witnesses were there to the resurrection of Jesus Christ? On Resurrection morning the two Marys’, Joanna, and Salome reported that they saw and talked to the risen Jesus. Two Roman guards reported that Christ rose from the dead; two followers of Christ walked with the risen Christ on the Road to Emmaus; He appeared to the eleven disciples (which included Peter); Joseph, aka Barsabbas, aka Justus, and Matthias, as well as Jesus’ brothers James and Jude all saw the risen Christ; the apostle Paul saw and spoke with the resurrected Jesus, and finally, we read in 1 Corinthians 15:6 that five hundred other people saw the risen Christ. That’s a lot of witnesses!!
These false teachers that were going to be creeping into the churches that Peter was writing to (and according to Jude, false teachers had already made their way into the pulpits of the churches he was writing to!) were not witnesses to anything supernatural pertaining to Christ so they had nothing of value to present to the Christians to contradict the eyewitness accounts of the apostles and so many others.
But in these verses Peter isn’t just talking about seeing the Majesty of the Resurrected Jesus. In verses seventeen and eighteen Peter tells us more specifically as to what he is talking about. Here we see that he is referencing a very special divine encounter that not only he, but John and James witnessed as well – that being the Transfiguration of Christ – which is mentioned in Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36. Jesus had taken the inner circle of Peter, John and James up a mountain to pray, and as they prayed the personal appearance of Jesus changed into a glorified form, and His clothing became dazzling white. Not only that, but Moses and Elijah were standing there talking to Jesus about His death that would soon take place.
Pete was so excited that he thought of making them three shelters or booths, which appeared to be a reference to the booths that were used to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. It appears that Peter was expressing a wish to stay in that place. A cloud then enveloped them and the Voice of the Father was heard to say, “This is My Son, whom I have chosen, whom I love; listen to Him!” With that the disciples fell to their faces; the cloud lifted; Moses and Elijah (who represented the Law and the Prophets) were gone; and Jesus touched them and said,
“Get up; don’t be afraid; don’t tell anyone of this until I have been raised from the dead”.
Jesus was sharing this experience with the three so they could gain a greater understanding of who Jesus was. Jesus underwent this change so that the disciples could behold Him in His glory. The disciples had only known Jesus in His human body, although they had witnessed countless divine miracles, but now they had a greater realization of the deity of Christ, though they could not fully comprehend it at this point.
The disciples never forgot what happened that day and what it all meant. John later wrote in John 1:14, “We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only”. And of course, we read in our verses for today that Peter remarked “….but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty”.
If you are a believer – a follower of Christ – if you have come to a saving faith in Christ – then, although you have not seen Jesus, you have experienced His presence in your heart and life, and even if you haven’t ‘felt’ much of His presence, by faith in His Word and the testimony of His Spirit, we know that He is within us; we have been transformed; and we have the confident expectation – the hope of glory. We WILL see Jesus face to face one day!
Yes, we haven’t seen Jesus, but I love what Jesus said about US, in John 20:29,
“Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”.
We are more blessed because we are living by faith and not by sight. But one day our faith will come to fruition, and we will gaze into His face, and sit at His Table forever as one of His children.
Yes, Peter and over five hundred others saw the resurrected Jesus, and we haven’t, but with Christ living within us; and by us living the resurrected life day by day – trusting in Him and allowing His love and Spirit to shine through us – then the world will ‘see’ Christ within us, and the Lord God will be glorified all the more!