Vs. 2, “There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” We open our chapter with Jesus revealing His glory to inner three (Peter, James & John) on the mount of Transfiguration (vs. 1-13). Question: What is the Transfiguration? It comes from the Greek language that gives us our modern day word: Metamorphosis. All three Synoptic Gospels record this event. The Transfiguration is a special glimpse into the glory of the Lord as Jesus reveals His true identity. The presence of Moses (law) & Elijah (prophets) come to bear witness of Jesus’ identity and mission. Once again, Jesus admonishes them not to reveal what they have seen (vs. 9); at least until He has done His work on the cross. Jesus reminds them the prophecy of Malachi (Malachi 4:5-6) concerning Elijah coming first is fulfilled through John the Baptist (Luke 1:17). When they come down the mountain they encounter a failed exorcism (vs. 14-23). Jesus uses this as an opportunity to give us a fresh understanding of what true faith looks like (vs. 20-21). Sadly, we are reminded that Jesus’ death will come about because of betrayal of the worst kind; betrayal of their own in Judas Iscariot (vs. 22-23). The Temple tax incident (vs. 24-27) teaches us that though Jesus being the Son of God (vs. 25) does not have to pay it, He does so to prevent the stumbling of others.
Regarding application…Father’s Approval. Vs. 5, “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” These words from the Father were identical to His affirmation when Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3:17). The caveat is, “Listen to him!” As children, we sought so hard to find the approval of our parents. Sometimes they were disappointed, other time we were disappointed. But deep down inside, we want to hear the praises and approval of our parents. Jesus was obedient; even obedient to death on the cross (Philippians 2:8). For my leisure reading, I am reading Peter Criss’ biography (the drummer of the rockband Kiss). He shares a story when they finally performed in MSG (Madison Square Garden) and he had his parents and family attend. As they performed he saw the tears and proud looks of his parents and it brought this 30 plus year old successful man to tears as he played the drums that night. No matter how old we are, we want to make our loved ones proud of us. Just as the Father approves His son Jesus, He also does for us. Question: Why? Because we listened to His son and put our faith in Him. Jesus’ blood brings the approval of our Father in Heaven. Thank you Father for loving us so much!
Vs. 4, “For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” Though Jude would rather have written about glorious things (vs. 3), he is compelled by the Spirit of God to address those who have infiltrated the church. The strategy of the enemy is often deceit and that is what we see here. We too should not be naïve that this doesn’t happen in the churches today. Jude gives us some OT examples of Israel and the first generation lacking faith (vs. 5), the fallen angels (vs. 6), and Sodom & Gomorrah (vs. 7). It is not easy reading to hear of the hardened rebellion against our God (vs. 8-16). Question: How should we respond? Jude exhorts us to persevere in these last times (vs. 17-23).
Regarding application…Be Builders. Vs. 20, “But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit.” The picture of building reminds me of Nehemiah’s call to help rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. We must not be bystanders in this life. The enemies of God are always trying to breakdown the church, but we must remain steadfast in building it. What a timely reminder that we must pray even while we build. Prayer is calling upon the resources that only God can provide. Question: What are you building? Take time today to consider your goals for 2013 and pray that God be the author of those plans. I’m reminded of that saying, “Prayer in not getting man’s will done in heaven-it is getting God’s will done on earth.”
Vs. 8, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” Peter admonishes us all to have perspective. That is why he wrote this second letter to them (vs. 1) There will always be scoffers and opponents of the church (vs. 1-7). Throughout Scripture, we have been told of a day of judgment (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Amos & Zechariah). Jesus continued teaching of such things (Matthew 24-25). Just like the days of Noah and those who scoffed judgment, we live in such times today. God is not limited by time (vs. 8-10) and His desire is that all turn to Him. Question: What then do we do with this truth? We are to continue to grow in the Lord with patience and alertness (vs. 11-18).
Regarding application…Live Holy Lives. Vs. 11, “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives.” Question: What does it mean to live holy? Holy basically means to be separate. In essence, living holy lives means to not live like the world. God chose us to live as His children. Having a right perspective on this temporary world will only help us remember how unimportant the things of this world really are. As we venture into a new year and think about all of our goals and aspirations, let us humbly consider what God has planned for us. We can’t control our future, but we can control how we live each day.
Vs. 1, “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.” Yikes, this is not a comforting thought, but Peter does not shy away from confronting the enemies tactics. Question: What did this look like? If we look at Peter’s description of destructive heresies, this would indicate that there were some who were promoting division and strife. Heresy originally meant “to make a choice,” but then it came to mean “a sect, a party.” So basically, destructive heresy were those who were pressuring people to side with them and cause division. Some of us are all too familiar with this when it comes to the history of our own churches. Part of their deception was to come in with ulterior and hidden motives from the onset. They manipulate God’s word to deceive, for their source is the father of lies, Satan. Because of this, they produce many false Christians who only want their idea of Christianity.
Regarding application…Turning Away. Vs. 21, “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.” This is a grave warning. Peter is quite blunt to let us know that those who have known who Jesus is and have experienced the church yet turn away or in worse shape than if they had never known. Like a dog who returns to its vomit, people would disgustingly turn back to the world (vs. 22). Brothers and sisters, this should not be. We should not be so quick to assume that everyone in the church has the mind of God. That is why we should be discerning. Remember Jesus’ exhortation, “be shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16).
Vs. 13, “I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body.” Peter knew that the recipients of his letter needed an encouraging reminder of their faith. Rather than jump straight to addressing the false teaching issue, Peter takes sometime to acknowledge the faith that got them there in the first place (vs. 3-11). The Lord gives us every tool we need from His workshop to accomplish whatever He desires us to build. As we grow in our faith, we grow in increasing measure this wonderful list of characteristics of a believer (vs. 5-7). Peter knew that his time on earth was about to end (vs. 12-15), so that is why see this sense of urgency. Unlike the false teachers who were growing in abundance, Peter was an eyewitness of Christ (vs. 16-18). Through the Holy Spirit, God chose select people to administer this message of hope (vs. 19-21)
Regarding application…Assurance of Salvation. Vs. 10, “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble.” Earlier, Peter reminded us in his first letter of the blessed hope that our inheritance will never spoil or fade (I Peter 1:3-5). As we grow in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, our own assurance of salvation will grow. Our salvation was sealed when we put our trust in the Lord. However, our emotions at times can betray us and that is why the more we know the Lord and grow, the more our confidence will soar. My early years of faith certainly had moments of doubt. However, the common denominator of those doubts were because I was not growing. We are going to doubt and lack faith at times, but know that the salvation is achieved not by our own doing, but because of Jesus on the cross!
Vs. 14, “Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” A wonderful exhortation and reminder on Christmas Day! In the midst of living in a dark world, we must not lose hope! Peter exhorts those who are older to not live and lead like the world would have them do (vs. 1-4). There is a often a danger in allowing pride to puff up our minds. But, we must remember that pride is in direct opposition to God (vs. 5-7). And speaking of opposition, we must take a stand against the devil who wants to devour (vs. 8-11).
Regarding application…Don’t Be Anxious. Vs. 7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” There was much to be anxious for the original audience of Peter’s epistle. And in many ways, there are always things we can point to in our life to make us anxious. The Christmas season is probably one of the more stressful times in our lives with traveling, visiting family, and the extra-added events that we pile on. Question: Is there anything in your life that is causing you to be anxious? Let’s take the time to rejoice for a Savior has come ready!
Vs. 12, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” Peter reminds us it’s all about having the right perspective on suffering. In some ways, this is a very applicable text for us as we near Christmas. Jesus came to us in a time when people in the world were suffering greatly. Godly people were losing hope. We are reminded that Jesus is Immanuel (God with us). The world is surprised to see Christians live contrary to the flesh (vs. 1-6). Because the end is near, we should make sure we are living as if Jesus could come again anytime (vs. 7-11). Let us keep fighting the good fight and enduring for glory of the Lord is coming soon (vs. 12-19).
Regarding application…Love Covers Sins. Vs. 8, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” Question: How are we to love? We are to love each other deeply. This is hands down one of my most treasured verses in the Word. Peter recalls a passage from the OT (Proverbs 10:12). It is this deep love that came down to us from Heaven in the form of a baby. Jesus’ love covered over our sins. This Christmas, you will have the opportunity to love your family, church and friends with deep love. Question: How can you show the love of Christ this Christmas Eve?
Vs. 18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.” Jesus set the example for us in suffering and humbling himself. Yesterday, Peter admonished us as citizens to submit to authority. Now he takes the first portion of our chapter today to remind us to submit and be mindful of our relationship in marriage (Vs. 1-7). Question: Why the emphasis on women? Because, like today, when couples are married without knowing Christ it is often the woman who becomes a Christian first. There were women in the new church that did not know how they should now respond to their unbelieving husband. Likewise, men too have a great responsibility to love and be considerate to their wives (vs. 7). In the latter half of our chapter, Peter goes on to give more practical ways we can live in a world where many will persecute and hate Christians (vs. 8-22). No matter how others respond to us, we are to go out of our way to be good. I found much comfort in Peter reminding us not to be afraid (vs. 14). This comes from a man who had learned how to deal with his fear and now is stronger because of it.
Regarding application…Be Prepared. Vs. 15, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Since we are not to fear the retribution of others, we should always be ready to have an answer for our faith. Remember, the recipients of Peter’s letter were living in fear of persecution from Nero. While we here in the States do not live under Christian persecution, we do have the same call to be prepared. In other words, we are to speak up when asked why we live and do the things we do. When people see Christians choose not to party and get drunk, when Christians choose to not curse, when Christians choose to give their tithe and time to church, When Christians love their community….People are going to wonder why? That is why we must know His word and be able to articulate our own testimony to others. Let’s be ready to answer why we celebrate Christmas to our family and friends!
Vs. 5, “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Peter shares a wealth of encouragement to us in this chapter. The more we know ourselves and our identity, the more we will be able to live holy lives acceptable by God. At the beginning of our chapter, Peter admonishes us to crave His word (vs. 1-3). As we crave God’s influence (word, church, prayer, fellowship) in our lives we are building our church on the Chief Cornerstone which is Christ (vs. 4-10). Notice that the church as it grows, we are to be a active voice of God’s goodness to a dark world (vs. 9). What a timely reminder as Christmas is right around the corner! Peter expounds upon how we are to live Godly lives (vs. 11-18). And in the last section of our chapter, Peter exhorts the persecuted believers to submit to those who are above.
Regarding application…Our Example. Vs. 21, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” They say imitation is the biggest form of flattery. There are many people we try to emulate. Those who are successful, we often pattern our lives to them. Jesus set the example in how we are to live. Jesus set the example in how we are to submit to authority. In the face of persecution, how we respond can affect our testimony. The world is watching us. We are on display. May our heavenly Father be proud!
Vs. 3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” The Lord Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep (John 21), and so this is exactly what Peter was doing. The hope of a new birth was found in our Savior and this important reminder should never be forgotten. Each believer who received this message was to remember that they were God’s chosen (vs. 1-2). With these truths in mind, Peter goes on to exhort the worried Christians how to respond in light of the persecutions of the church (vs. 6-9). I appreciate how Peter acknowledges that there is trials and grief going on. Some leaders may try to minimize such things. Peter gives us insight that such trials reveal the genuineness of our faith (vs. 7). Certainly, the end goal in all of this is the salvation that is offered to those who believe (vs. 10-12). Question: With salvation now given, what then is our end goal? We are to live holy lives (vs. 13-25).
Regarding application…Be Holy. Vs. 15, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.” For many Christians, the understanding of what is means to be holy has been a bit skewed. There seems to be a tendency of guilt surrounded around this idea of holiness. In our weekly Bible study this past Wednesday, we discussed Paul’s exhortation in Romans 12:2 to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. To live holy lives we must ensure our minds are being filled with Godly things. “Garbage in, garbage out.” Certainly what we put into our minds can corrupt our very life. May our hearts respond with resounding joy in the midst of our trials! Let the joy of Christmas shine in our faces!