Listening to the Right Voice

Listening to the Right Voice

Matthew 17:1-13.

“This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”

 

            With all the plethora of voices today, each claiming to have insight into the truth, how do we determine what is true and correct?  We live in a time when we are bombarded with conflicting messages from politics to medicine, morality to religion.  Each claims their answer is correct.  So, how do we know whom to follow and listen to for answers?  The answer lies in their credentials.  During COVID-19, when there was so much contradictory information for guidance, I turned to the one person I knew was qualified to give insight: my son Andrew.  Andrew is finishing up his PhD in Immunology at Cornell University.  I not only trusted his opinion because he was not involved in any of the politics of Covid-19 but he also was involved in the research on Covid-19 and how to strengthen the immune system to fight this new disease.  He was well-versed in how the disease attacked the body and how the various vaccines supported the immune system to fight the disease.  I could not only trust him because I knew him; I could trust him because he had the qualifications to speak on the topic authoritatively.

            While someone with a Ph.D. in immunology is an expert on how the immune system fights against disease, where do we turn for truth regarding spiritual truth?  How do we identify someone with the qualifications to give us the correct information regarding living and responding before God?  In Matthew 17:1-13, commonly titled “The Transfiguration,” the qualifications of Christ as a spiritual teacher are put on full display.  The first display of his qualifications is his nature.  The text tells us that he was transfigured before them, and His face is shown like the sun.  The disciples saw Jesus’s divine nature on full display for the first time. Until this event, they had seen hints of his divine nature in his powerful display of authority in calming the seas and healing the sick.  These miraculous works certainly gave testimony that Christ possessed supernatural power that could only come from God.  However, we see Christ revealed in his divine glory in the transfiguration.  In 2 Corinthians 3, this transformation is compared to the glory manifested in Moses's face when he met face-to-face with God. The dazzling brilliance of his total being pointed us back to the shekinah glory revealed when God descended upon the temple.  Christ displayed his true glory, sovereignty, and purity in this moment.

            The second testimony of his divine nature came from the appearance of Moses and Elijah.  These two individuals were more than just critical figures of the past; they represented the Law and the Prophets, which was the focus of the Old Testament revelation.  Because the Jews saw these two individuals represent the summation of the Old Testament law and prophets, many Jews believed that they would appear in conjunction with the arrival of the Messiah.  Their appearance served to provide a visible testimony that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament law and prophets. Both the law and the prophets pointed forward to Christ and gave testimony that he was the Messiah.

            While these were powerful testimonies of Christ’s divine nature, there is a third qualification that removes all doubt.  God himself speaks from heaven and affirms the divine nature of Christ.  The presence of bright cloud points back to the appearance of God in the Old Testament at Mt Sinai (Exodus 34:19-35), the appearance of Godin the Tabernacle (Exod. 40:34), and the presence of God as he led them through the wilderness (Exodus 40:36-38).  In this appearance, God affirms Christ's authority, person, and teaching.  The verb “listen” is a command that implies continually paying close attention to and conforming to someone or something.  We are to listen to Christ because God affirms the person of Christ and the teaching of Christ.  Not just because he is a prophet come from God, but he is God’s son; he is God himself come in the flesh.

            When we surrender to the teaching of Christ and follow him, we have the assurance that he is the “way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).  He is the one who is genuinely qualified to speak.  All truth starts and ends with Christ, and anyone who contradicts or rejects Christ’s teaching (and the teaching of the rest of the New Testament, for Christ affirmed that he would speak through them) is pursuing what is false. Jesus is the one person qualified to speak for God and teach us what God expects from us, for he is God himself.

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