Todays readings .. Genesis 27, Psalm 32, Matthew 17
Two incidents are described in today’s 17th chapter in Matthew in which three were “terrified” and then all the disciples” were greatly distressed.” The first occasion was the experience of three of them, Peter, James and John when Jesus “led them up a high mountain … and he was transfigured before them” [v.1,2] and “a bright cloud overshadowed them” and they heard God’s voice saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” [v.5] But this awesome experience “terrified” them and they “fell on their faces” [v.6] when they heard the divine voice.
The second occasion was when they returned to Galilee (v.22) and Jesus told them what was about to happen! He said, ” ‘The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.’ And they were greatly distressed.” [v.23] So often, human nature is weak so that it can only take in part of the divinely inspired message. The words Jesus added that ” he will be raised on the third day” – was not embraced by their hearts.
We should make sure we know all of God’s word. In a week’s time we are going to read how Jesus said. “there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world” [Matt 24 v.21] before his return. The tribulation will be so severe that those days will need to be “cut short” or ” no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”[v.22]
The genuineness of the faith of the elect will be fully tested! But their Saviour is not going to return secretly! “For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” [v.27] The whole world will be “greatly distressed”. Can we `visualise the time when ” the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” [v.29] ?
How will we cope? The disciples did not cope when they heard God’s “voice” on the Mount of transfiguration! Our faith will experience its’ ultimate test – and those genuinely strong in faith, will not “mourn” or be “greatly distressed” as all the world will surely be – for “they will see the son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” [v.30] and they will know “his angels” are about to “gather his elect” [v.31]