Verse by verse, together we dig into Matthew 17:1-9 (ESV)…
Hear the full audio of Bible Study from 10 February 2019
2/10/19 Notes for Study
INTRODUCTION: “What does this mean?” Lutherans grow very familiar with this question as we learn the Small Catechism. We learn to ask this question following each Commandment, each article of the Creed, each Petition of the Lord’s Prayer. There are other important questions we learn along the way, but “What does this mean?” stands as second only to questions such as “What does God say (of all these Commandments)?” or “Where is this written?”
We learn such questions also have specific answers that apply to all equally. Western Culture and American Christianity have all but walked away from such a view. Rather than believe God’s Word imparts His knowledge and truth to sinful man, contemporary Christianity cares much less for the question “What does this mean?” and in stead prefers “What does this mean TO YOU?”
Many Christians in our time abandon all hope of a commonly heard Word, a commonly held faith, a commonly embraced understanding of Christ and His Word. Each feels entitled to his own individual, private interpretation. None dares declare another’s understanding false or mistaken. In this “agreement to disagree,” it is thought that everyone can get together and stay together on some other basis than believing the same things about the same God and what that God says to us about Himself.
The question “What does this mean?” doesn’t matter to many in our day, so long as God seems to mean something to you, so long as you believe something about Jesus, or something about his Baptism, his Supper, and the rest of His teachings. But in this relativism, only you can know what precise something is true for you. You can never tell another what that something is, as if it were absolutely true also for them and for all. What becomes of the Church’s mission then, of “making disciples…baptizing…and teaching them to keep all that I have commanded of you?” None can know with enough certainty to teach another anything?!?!
This kind of Christianity embraces and mixes a radical individualism with a callous and selfish disregard for a neighbor caught in “false belief, despair, or other great shame or vice” (Meaning of the 6th Petition). It allows for anyone who “teaches and lives contrary to the Word of God” to “profane the Name of God among us” without any opposition (First Petition). This popular ignorance and disregard for God’s Word couldn’t care less about “What does this mean?” God spare us from such an indifferent attitude toward holy Scripture, our common understanding and faith, and our neighbor’s needs!
Together we Christians are commanded “Listen to Him.” What the Lord speaks to you, He declares for all to hear and learn and believe. A common faith in Christ can only be obtained and preserved as we listen to Him, hear His Word together, and speak of that Word and the hope that we have to one another. In this way, by the preaching and teaching and study of the Word together, does God’s Spirit create and preserve unity in faith and knowledge of Christ. The apostles and prophets teach and encourage us toward no other outcome except sharing in such unity of mind and heart:
“I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them.” (Jeremiah 32:39)
“For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord.” (Zephaniah 3:9)
“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” (1 Corinthians 1:10)
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel…” (Philippians 1:27)
“…complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:2)
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” (1 Peter 3:8)
“So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.” (Acts 16:5)
PART ONE: TRANSFIGURATION: What does this mean?
A.) Today we read Matthew 17:1-9.
B.) Matthew uses a very unusual term here “metamorpheo” from which we get words like “metamorphosis.” Our ESV translates “He was transfigured before them.” (v.2)
C.) How does the Gospel describe this “Transfiguration”? What changed?
PART TWO: Parallel Passages
E.) Are these passages describing the same event? YES / NO
F.) Note similarities and differences, if any:
PART THREE: What is unique about Matthew’s account?
G.) Describe any unique features of Matthew’s account:
H.) What was Jesus talking about before this event (see Matthew 16:13-28)
I.) What did Jesus talk about after the Transfiguration (see Matt. 17:9-13)?
J.) How might this section before and after the Transfiguration help us understand what the disciples must hear as they “Listen to him”?
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