Sunday School Lesson For Feb. 20, 2010
Sunday School Lesson For Feb. 20, 2010
DEVOTIONAL READING : 2 Peter 1:16-21
BACKGROUND SCSRIPTURE: Matthew 17:1-12
PRINT PASSAGE: Matthew 17:1-12
He (Jesus) was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Mathew 17:2
Upon completion of this lesson, students should know that:
1. Jesus is without question the Son of God.
2. Jesus is the Messiah – the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.
3. Jesus is preferred over both the law and the prophets.
The accounts of today’s lesson are recorded by all three Synoptic Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark: 9:2-13, Luke: 9:28-36). It speaks to the importance of the event. In time, it was (according to Matthew and Mark) six days following Peter’s confession in last week’s lesson...
This was also another in a growing list of confirmations concerning the Messiahship of Jesus. In order for the disciples to have any chance of comprehending the meaning of what was about to happen (the Passion), it was imperative that they see the “big picture”. Little by little, this was coming to be. Still, their level of understanding at crucial periods would prove woefully inadequate...
There are parallels between today’s lesson and the account of Moses on Mt Sinai; both Jesus’ and Moses’ faces were shining on the mountain (Exodus 34:29, 30). In the case of Moses, the fact was simply recorded; in the case of Jesus, it is called by the writers a Transfiguration. And just what the true meaning of “transfiguration” is raises differing opinions among scholars. It has been argued that “transfiguration” (within the context of today’s scripture), and “transformation” are two different concepts. The indication is that what the disciples saw of Jesus was completely unique, but Jesus Himself was essentially unchanged...
There was no large audience for this event. And in the case of the disciples, only three of the twelve were witnesses. Even those three (Peter, James, John) almost missed this momentous event, as they came close to sleeping through the entire affair (Luke 9:32). It is an example of what happens when people become too comfortable and complacent with their lives...
COMMENTARY ON THE TEXT:
I. The Law, The Prophets, and Jesus
Immediately in second verse, two momentous occurrences take place: Jesus is transfigured and Moses and Elijah appear. In connection with Jesus’ Transfiguration, one school of thought is that Jesus simply uncovered Himself to show what light there was within Him all the time. This is the difference between this Transfiguration and transformation. Transfiguration may be seen as a change from the outside in (revealing what some has been all the time), while a transformation is a change from the inside out (making of someone what he was not before). Jesus was Transfigured...
Moses and Elijah are extremely important for at least two reasons; first, no one can verify their deaths or places of burial, and second, Moses represented the Law, while Elijah represented the Prophets. Even in the days of Jesus’ sojourn on earth, the religious authorities of that day placed high emphasis on the Law and the Prophets. In every synagogue of worship, the “Order of Service” included Scripture readings from the Law and from the Prophets. It was their way of “earning” God’s favor. Some were so preoccupied with the finer points of the law that they earned the title “Doctors of Law” (cf. Luke 5:17). But here, God positions Moses and Elijah alongside Jesus, and says in effect: “Here are the Law, the Prophets, and My Son. Follow my Son.”
Meanwhile the impetuous Peter was probably misreading the entire event. He speaks in verse four of building three tabernacles (or tents, representing the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles), one each for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. Such a statement may indicate that Peter was mistaking this occasion for the Second Coming, and was convinced that the current state of affairs would be permanent. This could all come from a misinterpretation of Zechariah 14:16-19...
It is understandable that the events of these verses would bring terror to the hearts of mere mortals. They fell on their faces, only to be touched by Jesus and reassured that fear was unnecessary. When they opened their eyes, there was only Jesus. But that was the point: after all is said and done, there is only Jesus. Both Moses and Elijah have served their purposes in History. Now it’s time for them to be replaced by something infinitely better: Jesus the Christ – Jesus the Savior...
II. The Question of John the Baptist
Jesus speaks of the Resurrection in verse nine, but the disciples appear to completely ignore that statement. Why? Probably because the disciples still don’t understand the concept of the Resurrection. Instead, they raise a question on a subject familiar to every Jew in the land: the “second coming” of the Prophet Elijah. First of all, it is interesting they would raise this question when they had just seen Elijah. But they may have been showing their confusion between the “Day of the Lord” and the Resurrection. Surely, they reasoned, the return of Elijah would be (according to David Kimchi) in “…a created body, like to his former body…”. They had seen no such thing...
Jesus replied that the religious enthusiasts of that day had completely overlooked Elijah; he was John the Baptist (Matthew 17:13). It is partly because of this oversight that the church also “missed” Jesus the Christ. They simply were not looking for a Messiah until they had once again seen Elijah the Prophet on the scene (Malachi 4:5, 6). This “oversight” would eventually lead the Jews in their righteous indignation to mistakenly place their Messiah on the Cross. This may represent one meaning of Jesus’ words on the Cross: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)...
APPLICATION OF THE SCRIPTURE:
No one can grasp the spiritual concepts in the Bible with simply a human mind. This was the mistake made first by the Pharisees and Sadducees, and also for a long period by Jesus’ own disciples. Jesus even spoke to Nicodemus (John 3) about the difference between earthly and heavenly thinking. Even today, the human mind is incapable of comprehending the teachings of Jesus. The human body, left to its own devices, will never accomplish the goals set before it by the Word of God. It is not meant to be; for it is not the body that Jesus seeks to save, it is the soul; man’s spirit...
It is therefore imperative that our spirit is completely convinced that Jesus is still our Savior, that He died and rose the third day morning. The disciples in their day needed repeated assurances that this Man walking the dusty roads of Galilee and Judea was in fact the promised Messiah. Today, we need repeated assurances that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead, claim a victory, and that we stand to be heirs to the greatest inheritance known to man...
REFLECTILONS ON THE LESSON:
1. Have you ever in your heart doubted any Scripture? What was it, and why?
2. What do you understand about the Resurrection? Did Jesus raise Himself or was He raised by God?
ASSIGNMENT, PROJECT, OR ACTIVITY:
1. Describe places you have had mountaintop experiences.
2. List some ways to listen to Jesus today.
Father, help me to strengthen my faith, and help me to encourage others to grasp the true meaning of the work of your Son Jesus. Amen....
By HIS stripes, we are healed...