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July 12, 2020
Coming Down the Mountain
17:1-2 Jesus transfiguration. Six days later. There He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. In our world though if something goes through a metamorphosis it is a one way street. Most common example is a butterfly, but a butterfly will never return to its caterpillar state.
17:3 Moses and Elijah. Moses had died 1400 years earlier, Elijah died 900 years earlier. Talking with Jesus. What did they talk about? Luke 9:31 tells us: they spoke of His departure, which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem (ESV).
17:5 God the Father speaks. Same as Matthew 3:17 except for Hear Him! Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses said The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.
17:6-8 Jesus in the flesh. It was over and Jesus now looked ‘normal’ but they would still know now who and what He is for they had seen Him transfigured and heard Almighty God say “Listen to Him!”
17:9-13 Raised from the dead and Elijah. Jesus matter of factually discusses that He will die and be raised from the dead. Question about Elijah, not so odd Malachi 4:5 See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. They came to understand he had come in spirit in the form of John the Baptist.
17:14-16 Down the Mountain. A man, a father came to Him, knelt/kneeling before Him – some versions say: he bowed, others he fell to his knees or got on his knees, a few he fell down at his feet, “Have mercy.” He recognized Jesus as one who could spare his son. To see how desperate the father was, turn to Mark 9:14-18 for more details.
17:17-21 Jesus casts the demon out. Jesus first addresses the scribes and His disciples. Jesus was dismayed with His disciples for arguing with the scribes instead of dealing with the misery of the father and his son. He is vexed as His time grows short and He heals the boy. His dismay was also directed at the scribes for their perverseness in refusing to recognize who He is, so He performs another miracle that they remain blind to what it means.
The disciples question and Jesus’ answer of their unbelief or lack of faith or of little faith. In speaking of the faith of a mustard seed, the faith has more to do with what kind of faith it is than with how much faith there is. A small amount of faith, as small as a mustard seed (a very small seed), can accomplish great things if that small amount of faith is placed in the great and mighty God. (Guzik) What were the disciples placing their faith in? What do we place our faith in? Church? Some ritualistic prayer? Is our heart even involved in our faith? Or is our faith truly in Jesus and His Father? How much time are we willing to spend in prayer? In fasting?
The disciples, we know, did not as yet fast (Matthew 9:14-15), and the rebuke implies they had been negligent in prayer. We tend to do the same when things are going well and working out – until they no longer do so.
17:22-23 Jesus’ future. Again Jesus tells not only of His upcoming betrayal and death, but of His resurrection as well. He attempts to prepare them not only for His death, but also His resurrection. We know they doubted the first reports of His resurrection and were in hiding fearing for their own safety three days after Jesus was crucified.
17:24-26 Who pays the temple tax? It was not unusual for Jewish men to pay the temple tax. It was an odd voluntary tax paid by custom, not by law. A tradition traced back to Exodus 30:13 of a half shekel. Jesus was not required to pay the tax as a rabbi, but decides to do so anyway so as not to set a bad example for others, but a good example.
17:27 Miracle to pay tax. Peter was a professional fisherman, a user of nets, not hooks. How strange it much have been for him to go to the seashore with a pole, line, and hook. A hook was used instead of a net, because it was to be one particular fish, not one out of many in a net. The coin would pay the tax for both Peter and Jesus.
BottomLine: What kind of faith will we have when we come down from the mountain? Will we do as Jesus asked Peter to do – fish with a hook instead of a net. Will we spend time in prayer and in fasting as the occasion calls for? Will we be people of faith as Jesus has called us to be?