April is L-Plate month, where I’ve turned over this website to my students. They are studying an introductory preaching subject this semester, and writing for this website is part of their assessment, as well as a learning exercise for them. I’m hoping you’ll interact with them a bit via the comments function at the bottom of each post, offering some feedback. (Particularly, feedback that’s constructive or affirming – they’ve got me to deliver the negative stuff! Remember, some of them will never have preached before, and some have English as their second language.) They will then incorporate this feedback in a sermon they present in class at the end of semester.
We continue today in 2 Peter.
2 Peter 1:12-21 | Sam Walker
12-21 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. 19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Remember the Return of the King
No, I’m not talking about the third Lord of the Rings installment, though it is a classic of both film and literature and is worth remembering. I mean, remember the second coming of our King Jesus. Because though it is an incredibly big deal, we seem to let the reality of this event slip into the parts of our brain we don’t use that often. Especially because we are constantly living in the now; cluttering our lives with the things of today. We easily forget that, as Christians, we believe that we are living in the time of history when Jesus Christ will come again, in all the glory that scripture tells us he will have, to bring to a close God’s amazing plan for humanity. We ought to be reminded of it, continually.
Christians, for just under 2000 years have lived with this belief, and they too have needed to continually be reminded of its importance and reality.
The recipients of Peter’s second letter were in need of a good reminder about the return of the King. Especially when pressure started to mount against them in the form of false teachers. We’ve already heard in 2 Peter 1: 1-11 that these Gentile believers had been told a whole ton of truth about the gospel, and that they were “firmly established in the truth” (1:12). Yet the pressure rising from false teaching, that is, people saying things contrary to the gospel, was jeopardising these Christians’ firm grasp on some of their most important beliefs.
We can see through Peter’s letter that the false teachers, who are described in chapter 2 as an “accursed brood” (2:15) and “unreasoning animals” (2:12) (harsh) were, for whatever reason, targeting the second coming of Christ. They were presumably passing the whole thing off as part of some “cleverly invented stories” (1:16) or simply as myth.
Now, it seems, quite unfortunately, that in verses 13-15 Peter thought he was at the end of his ministry. He felt that the time had come for Jesus’ prophecy of his death, many years before in John 21:18, to be fulfilled. It’s assumed that at this time Rome was ramping up persecution (possibly under the psychotic Emperor Nero), so Peter was naturally feeling the urgency of making sure that these believers were reminded one last time about the sure truth that Jesus will return- for which he was about to give his life. So what are the “things” that the believers needed to remember to safeguard their belief in the return of the King??
Peter witnessed Jesus’ kingly glory
Peter reminds his readers that he was actually there, on that mountain when Jesus revealed his true glory to Peter, James and John in the event that has become known as the transfiguration:Matt 17:1-3 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
If you’ll remember, Peter was the one who embarrassed himself by making a weird invitation to build shelters for Jesus, Moses and Elijah, – so he was definitely there as an eye witness. He also remembers the voice that came from heaven in 1 Peter 1:17-18, which, for Peter, is the Father’s seal of approval on Jesus’ kingly status as the Son of God.1 Pet 1:17-18 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
This statement from the Father deliberately alludes to scriptures such as Psalm 2:7, in which God is addressing his Messianic King. So this event, together with the glorious, kingly appearance of Jesus and the voice and affirmation of Jesus as the Son of God from the Father, is an eye witness testament from history that suggests that Jesus will return in a similar way to how he appeared here. This whole second coming thing isn’t a cleverly conjured up story, it is historically supported. And we can trust it.
OT prophets spoke truthfully about the second-coming.
Peter also reminds his readers of the intense amount of OT prophecy written about the second coming of the Messiah. More importantly than that though, he reminds the believers of its reliability. Especially in the context of false teachers spreading all sorts of unreliable content around. This brings to mind similar passages like 2 Tim 3:16 which talk about the reliability of scripture:2 Tim 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
Peter concurs. All prophecy came about from God’s own will, through his Holy Spirit, inspiring the authors to write it down. It is God’s word – which means God’s promises, God’s plan and God’s finish. And he’s chosen to finish it with Jesus. We must continually remember this. Our Lord Jesus will return and bring about the end of all things here on earth, so we should, as Christians, be living with that at the forefront of our mind, not at the back of it.
This was Peter’s lasting reminder to his brothers and sisters in Christ. Remember the return of the King, he is coming back, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
To think about
How can we live in light of the reality of Jesus’ return?
Does it help to know that scripture and testimony about Jesus’ return are reliable?