Posts Tagged "2 Peter 1:12-21"

The True Light of the Word

February 02, 2020
By Rev. James Barton

The apostle Peter begins this passage by saying that he is going to remind us of things we already know, and he’s going to keep reminding us, as long as he is alive; and even after he is dead, he’ll have a way to keep reminding us. He writes: “I intend always to remind you of these things, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have, I think it right, as long as I am in this body (literally, “in this tent”, for that is what we all are, only temporarily tenting in this world) - “I think it right”, Peter says, “to stir you up (to awaken you, to arouse you) by way of reminder ... and I will make every effort so that after my departure (literally, my “exodus” from this world), you may be able at any time to recall these things.” (2 Peter 1:12-15)

You might remember that when Jesus was arrested and condemned to die, Peter was so frightened for himself that three times he denied, with curses and swearing, that he ever knew Jesus. The risen Lord Jesus, later on, came to Peter and forgave him. That is exactly what Peter really needed. Then Jesus told him three times, “Feed my lambs ... feed my sheep ... feed my sheep.” Jesus gave him renewed meaning and purpose for his life. Peter then knew what his calling was to be, from that time on: to seek to provide spiritual food and spiritual care to the believers and to as many others as he could, no matter what they themselves thought they needed. (John 21:15-19)

Today, the media and the world around us wants our focus to be on the Super Bowl and the death of Kobe Bryant and politics and the impeachment and the coronavirus and so much more - so many loud, noisy, competing, confusing thoughts and ideas, all around us.

In our text, Peter wants us to stop and be quiet for at least a little while, and he points us to the one thing he knew that he really needed, and that we really need, too - for help in our own lives, and for eternal life, as well, beyond this life. He simply points us to Jesus Christ.

Peter warns us about the danger of “cleverly devised myths.” And how many of those don’t we hear in advertising, about wondrous products that don’t turn out to be wondrous at all, and misleading ideas in books and movies and on TV and on YouTube and the internet - and even in relatively nice shows like Hallmark movies, where everything always turns out just right in a very short time. We wish these things could be true, but we know they often aren’t, in everyday life. There is a lot of myth around us, even today.

But there is also real truth today, Peter says, in Jesus. Listen again to what he says: “We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16)

Peter uses just one example, the story we heard in our gospel lesson for today, when Jesus’s face shone like the sun, in His light and glory, as the Son of God. Moses and Elijah were there, too, to show that Jesus was the One promised in the Old Testament, as the coming Savior. (Matthew 17:1-9) Peter doesn’t even mention Moses and Elijah, though. The really important one was Jesus and what He came to do for us. Peter says, “When Jesus received honor and glory from God the Father, who said, ‘This my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with Him on the holy mountain.” (2 Peter 1:17-18)

Peter knew that everything he reported about the transfiguration of Jesus was true. He had been there and had seen and heard it all, as an eyewitness. He wrote down these words, then, in this letter so that even after his death, people would “be able at any time to recall these things” (v. 15). He also helped with the writing of the gospel of Mark, where this same story and much more of God’s Word was included.

God’s plans and predictions were written down by the Old Testament prophets like Moses and many others. And the New Testament fulfillment of it all, in Jesus, was written down by the apostles and others close to them. As Peter said in the Book of Acts, “We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” The apostles had to speak and write, because they knew what was true and that everyone needed the good news of the risen Lord Jesus. Even when they were threatened and imprisoned, the apostles could not keep quiet. (Acts 4:18-20)

The Bible, the Scriptures, came into being by the direction and work of God himself, through these writers, so that we can, still today, hear the true and reliable Word of God. Peter put it this way in our text, “No prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.” (No one thought any of it up and wrote it down on his own.) “For,” Peter writes, “no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God, as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (They would have nothing to say or to write without the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.) (2 Peter 1:20-21). “All Scripture is God-breathed” said the apostle Paul. It is all from God himself and is entirely true, even though written through Peter and Paul and others. (2 Timothy 3:16) The apostles all knew this as they wrote.

No wonder, then, that Peter says, “You will do well to pay attention to this certain and sure Word of God, as to a lamp shining in a dark place” - the darkness that continues in this sinful, troubled world until Jesus, who is called the Bright Morning Star, returns in glory on the Last Day. (2 Peter 1:19)

We still say of people, sometimes, that they are in a dark place in their life because of their struggles. And we also know that we, too, are sometimes in a dark place because of our own sins and weaknesses and the troubles we and others face and the heavy burdens we carry if we are left on our own. Peter himself was in a very dark place when he denied Jesus three times.

But Peter also reminds us just before our text of “the righteousness” (not of us, but) “of our God and Savior Jesus.” (2 Peter 1:1) Where we have so often failed, Jesus came into our dark world and lived a perfect life in our place, perfectly pleasing to His heavenly father. He died on the cross in our place to pay the penalty we deserve for every one of our sins and to forgive every one. And he rose in Easter victory to give us hope and new life. All of this is a gift from Him out of love for us.

Again, just before our text, Peter says, “Grace and peace” come to us “in the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ” and what He has done for us. These are all gifts of God. If you want to know real peace, keep listening to Jesus and what He promises. (2 Peter 1:2) And in this way, by faith, Peter says, “there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Eternal life is also a gift from Jesus. The door is wide open for us, in Christ. (2 Peter 1:11)

And again, just before our text, Peter makes one more amazing statement: By the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, we “obtain a faith of equal standing” with Peter and the other apostles. We often put the apostles up on a high pedestal for their faith and life. But imagine this - our faith in Jesus is of equal standing as Peter’s because it, too, is simply a gift of God. The same faith He gave to Peter and gives to every believer. (2 Peter 1:1)  Remember the words of Paul, “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Peter cannot boast of his faith. Paul cannot, and we cannot either. It is all a gift of God, through Jesus and His work for us. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Peter keeps telling us to keep listening to Jesus and His Word, the Bible, for it truly is a lamp shining on us to give eternal hope and joy and strength to get through the dark places we are sometimes in, as Peter also was, and to know what is really true amid all the competing voices around us today. (2 Peter 1:19)

Peter ends this whole letter with these words, “You, therefore, beloved,” (loved by God), “knowing this beforehand,” (because Peter has written all this down, just for us) “take care that you are not carried away by the errors of lawless people and lose your own stability.” But be carried along by the truth, the Word of God. (2 Peter 3:17, 2 Peter 1:21) And then you will “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him,” Peter says, “be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18)

And now, may the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds safe, only where they are safe, in Christ Jesus. Amen. (Philippians 4:7)

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