Today’s and tomorrow’s readings in Exodus are the detailed accounts of the first 9 plagues sent to the Egyptians by God. It is an amazing portrait of Pharaoh’s stubbornness and hardness of heart!
I’m devoting the next two days to Matthew, mainly because my absolute favorite of Jesus’ miracles occurs at the end of Matthew 17. Let’s set the stage for this amazing miracle :-)
Yesterday, we read Jesus’ first prediction of his death. If you remember, Peter would not accept it, and Jesus rebuked him sharply.
Matthew 17:1 says: “And after six days…” Just a few days later, Jesus asked three of his disciples to go up on a mountainside to pray. I imagine that Jesus was feeling pretty lonely. I’m sure he foreknew, but now he has experienced the reality that his closest companions – not only don’t understand the fact He has to die – but they will try to talk him out of doing it. It had to be such a lonely time… knowing that the rest of His time on earth would be surrounded by these men that just don’t understand. And it is this moment that God gave Jesus the gift of the Transfiguration.
Up on the mountain, Jesus was changed and the glory filled the night and Elijah and Moses were there. I wonder what they talked about… Matthew’s gospel doesn’t say, but Luke’s does :-)
And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem (Luke 9:30-31).
His departure. They talked about His death. What a sweet gift of fellowship for Jesus! He needed the fellowship of heaven to encourage Him on this final leg of His time on earth.
So Jesus and His disciples made their way down the mountain, and what was Jesus confronted with? …The ineptitude of his disciples who couldn’t heal the epileptic boy. Even though he was weary, he healed the boy (Matthew 17:14-21). And then he turned to his disciples and predicted His death again (17:22-23)! Luke tells us that the disciples did not understand:
Jesus said to his disciples, “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying (Luke 9:4-45).
Matthew 17:24 tells us that Jesus and his disciples made their way to their homebase of Capernaum. Mark’s gospel tells us details that none of the other gospels contain:
And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest (Mark 9:34).
They were arguing over who was going to be the greatest in the Kingdom. Jesus had predicted his death, not once – but twice and they just didn’t understand that… before Jesus rises up to be the Lion of Judah, he has to be the sacrificial Lamb.
So this is the backdrop for my favorite miracle – but we’ll talk about that… tomorrow :-)