February 17, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — 2 Peter 1:16-21
We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
Lead holy lives, be at peace, grow in grace and knowledge, and above all wait for the coming of Christ, the age to come “when righteousness is at home” (2 Peter 3:13). Really, that’s not a bad to-do list as we strive to follow and fulfill the call of Christ.
This is my last set of weekend devotions before we enter the season of Lent. Mark Roberts has some lovely reflections coming up about Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, and Lent, so I will let him explain those times and seasons more fully. In my Anglican tradition, on the last Sunday before Lent, we celebrate the Transfiguration of the Lord. (Catholics and Orthodox follow an older tradition of celebrating it on August 6, if you’re curious.)
The reason the Transfiguration has gotten itself attached to the end of Epiphany as a celebration is because it is one of the biggest epiphanies in the Gospels before the most amazing epiphany demonstrating Christ’s power and glory—the Resurrection. In the Transfiguration we get a “sneak preview” of the fully divine aspect of this Man who is also fully human, and who will die for us and be raised for us.
Tomorrow we’ll look at Matthew’s story of the Transfiguration. Today, we meditate on the Epistle lesson from 2 Peter which is assigned to be read on the Feast of the Transfiguration. Why? Well, because it tells the same story! This epistle is traditionally ascribed to Peter on the grounds of 2 Peter 1:1, and certainly 2 Peter 1:16-21 fits with what we know of the Transfiguration—an event at which Peter was present.
Why does Peter bring up the story of the Transfiguration as he writes to his readers? (We don’t know who or where they are from the text, only that they are those “who have received a faith as equally honorable as ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ”). Largely, it is to establish his apostleship and authority to speak on matters of faith. We’re so used to Paul making this sort of move in his letters (see Galatians 1-2, for example) that it may not immediately strike us that Peter is doing it too.
Peter starts with an explanation of the gospel before he moves to the basis for his authority to speak about the gospel. 2 Peter 1:3-11 reminds us that Christ calls us and gives us all we need to fulfill that call; Peter encourages his readers to “make every effort to support your faith with excellence, and excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love” (1:5-7). In 1:12-15 he tells them that his death is coming soon, and he wants them to be able to recall his teachings even after he is gone—because, as he states at the beginning of today’s passage, these teachings are not human teachings (“cleverly devised myths”), but the very Gospel which Peter saw demonstrated on that holy mountain. He was there.
If you kept reading in 2 Peter, you’d soon discover that the whole next chapter is about avoiding false prophets (Peter has some amazingly nasty things to say about them) and that chapter 3 reminds his readers also to avoid those who scorn and mock believers. What should believers do instead? Lead holy lives (2 Peter 3:11), be at peace (2 Peter 3:14), grow in grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18), and above all wait for the coming of Christ, the age to come “when righteousness is at home” (2 Peter 3:13). Really, that’s not a bad to-do list as we strive to follow and fulfill the call of Christ.
Unlike Peter, we weren’t there. But we follow the same Christ, and we believe the same gospel that was demonstrated on that holy mountain. We too would do well to be “attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (1:19).
What questions do you have about Peter’s story?
What questions do you have about Peter’s instructions to believers?
One of my favorite childhood hymns—my parents sang it often—was “Fairest Lord Jesus.” It isn’t specifically about the Transfiguration, but it is about the Lord who rules over all and our call to honor him. This version pairs it with images of the creation both small and cosmic. Listen and renew your desire to serve the Lord.
Lord, help us to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in our hearts. Amen.
Banner image by Patrick Robert Doyle on Unsplash.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project’s online commentary. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: 2 Peter: Work and New Creation.
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Jennifer Woodruff Tait (PhD, Duke University) is the editor of and frequent contributor to Life for Leaders. She is also the managing editor of Christian History magazine and web editor for the Theology of Work Project, and a priest in the Episcopal Church. She has written a book of poetry, Histories of Us. Jennifer lives in Berea, Kentucky, with her husband, Edwin, and their two daughters.
Click here to view Jennifer’s profile.