July 06, 2020 – Monday
Matthew 17:1a NIV
1After six days …
Confession. I am cheating a bit here as I taught on this, this past Sunday at church. Nonetheless I just went to BibleGateway.com to see if there were any real differences in the first words of the first verse of chapter 17 of Matthew in the various versions of the Bible. Some said Six days later which I consider almost identical.
You are probably asking, “What is the big deal about After six days or Six days later?” To answer that I went back to chapter three where John the Baptist appeared on the scene and he baptized Jesus. From there on out there were no gaps of days without Jesus teaching, healing, replying to questions (traps) of the Pharisees and their allies, or feeding thousands. You will not find any gaps between these events of days without any event or teaching by Jesus. Sometimes, it is obvious a day or two or even three may have passed to get from one locations to another location. But no where do you read Two days later or as in Matthew 17:1 After six days.
Okay, you may grant me, this is the first time of a big gap of time without any major event or teaching, but why is this important? It is because, I believe, the evangelist Matthew wants to tie the last teachings of chapter sixteen and what happens on the Mount of Transfiguration. Or more specifically, Jesus teaching at the end of chapter sixteen and His Father’s direction in chapter seventeen.
Near the end of sixteen in verse 24, Jesus says to His disciples (and through time to us), Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me. Thus we have three requirements for those who would be a disciple of Christ, deny oneself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus. However, the first two requirements roll into the third, for you cannot follow Jesus without first denying yourself and taking up your cross. Jesus made this clear earlier in chapter 7:22-23 when He said Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name and in Your name drive out demons and in Your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!’ Harsh words? Not if they did not deny themselves and take up their cross to follow Him as He instructed.
Still, after chapter sixteen we move into chapter seventeen and in the first three verses we read After six days Jesus took with Him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Amazing and incredible all by itself, after all Jesus is now revealed in His natural or real state. In a short time He will revert back to His fully human state.
More importantly what follows is the presence of His Father shows up as a bright cloud covering everyone in verse five where He says This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him! We are not told anything else. God the Father simply identifies Jesus as His Son whom He loves and is well pleased with Him. Then He ends with the command Listen to Him! In almost all the biblical versions of this verse they end with an exclamation mark! Some say Obey Him! My favorite is the NKJV which simply says Hear Him!
To me it is as if Matthew is connecting Jesus directions for those who would be His disciples and Jesus’ Father’s command to Hear Him! Remember our chapter divisions are man made and not scriptural, then look as the last five verses of chapter sixteen and the first five verses of seventeen as one complete unit. They truly seem to fit together. Jesus is not saying it is going to be easy, but He is saying to do it. And His Father backs Him up saying Listen to Him!
Are we listening? Are we obeying. Are we listening to Jesus? Are we obeying Jesus? Will He know us at the end?