“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Matthew 17:1-8: Glory through Suffering

5. Reflection: Glory through Suffering

For the disciples the transfiguration was revelation – the foretaste of glory, and reason for hope despite Christ’s strange words in 16:21-25. It was confirmation from the Father of Peter’s declaration in 16:16 for those who were “eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). For us, who look back on the story in light of its completion, and for all of Matthew’s readers, it is revelation as well. We too see how the Story is tied together and completed in Christ, and how it was all along moving definitively towards Christ. We too are given a glimpse of the kingdom, which has already arrived but is incomplete. We see Christ’s glory and majesty, we see the terrible and awesome power of the Father, and we see the bond of love and joy within the Trinity. All this is a gracious gift from God, who delights to make his character known so that we too may love him and rejoice in him (Philippians 4:4).

Like the disciples, we are also given a practical message. Each reader is called to listen to the Son of God, not only because the Father commanded the disciples to do so, but because the whole of Scripture confirms it. We too must recall Christ’s demand that each one take up his cross. Just as Christ died and rose, so must we follow where he has gone by dying to sin and to ourselves, and living in Him (Romans 6:1-14). We are to join with Paul, who wrote, “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11). We too will suffer (Acts 14:22, 2 Timothy 3:12, Romans 8:16), and in so doing participate in the fullness of the victory of God over death and suffering (Colossians 1:24). But we have Christ in us, “the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).



Bibliography

Bible Gateway. Gospel Communications International. 5 May 2008 .
Blomberg, Craig L. The New American Commentary: Matthew. Vol. 22. Ed. David S. Dockery. Broadman Press: Nashville, 1992.
Carson, D. A. “Matthew.” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 8. Ed. Frank E. Gaebelein. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 1984. 3-602.
Carson, D. A. New Testament Commentary Survey. Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, 1986.
Davies, W. D., and Dale C. Allison. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on The Gospel According to Saint Matthew. T&T Clark: Edinburgh, 1991.
Hagner, Donald A. Word Biblical Commentary: Matthew 14-28. Vol. 33b. Eds. David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker. Word Books: Dallas, 1995.
Hengel, Martin. Crucifixion in the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross. Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 1977.
Keener, Craig S. The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: Matthew. Ed. Grant R. Osborne. InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, IL, 1997.
Miller, Stephen R. The New American Commentary: Daniel. Vol. 18. Ed. E. Ray Clendenen. Broadman and Holman, 1994.
Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome. “What Really Happened At the Transfiguration? a Literary Critic Deepens Our Understanding.” Bible Review 3.3 (1987): 9-21.
Stein, Robert H. The New American Commentary: Luke. Vol. 24. Ed. David S. Dockery. Broadman Press: Nashville, 1992.
Stuart, Douglas. “Malachi.” The Minor Prophets. Vol. 3. Ed. Thomas McComiskey. Baker Books: Grand Rapids, 1998. 1245-1396.

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