The Expository Files


“Listen to Him!”  
Matthew 17:1-8

(This article is based on an excellent outline compiled by Gary Henry)

1 Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves.
2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.
3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.
4 Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!"
(Matthew 17:1-5).

It was called the transfiguration. It happened on a mountain, and there was a great truth pronounced, as well as it's repercussion. It was an overwhelming experience for the three apostles present. They were terrified of what they were seeing and hearing.

6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified.
7 And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Get up, and do not be afraid."
8 And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone
. (Matthew 17:6-8).

Following the pronouncement at the Transfiguration that Jesus was His beloved Son, God said, “Listen to Him!” Listening to Jesus is important because it is He through whom God speaks to the world today (Hebrews 1:1-3). In fact, our salvation and where we will spend eternity depends on us giving the appropriate attention and response to the word of Christ (John 12:47-48). We should listen carefully and diligently. To ignore His word, or pay only slight attention to it is a bad choice, let alone mocking or ridiculing it. Eternal salvation is to be found in no one else. There are no substitutes. (1 Timothy 6:20,21; Colossians 2:8).

“Listen to Him!” This is excellent advice that was given on the mountain by the voice of God.
God Is The Sole Provider of the Soul's Salvation
In Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection, God did what had to be done if we were to be saved from sin. This was also something that we could not have done for ourselves, and He did so without our deserving it. The problem was sin and death (Genesis 2:16,17; 3:15; Romans 6:23). God's answer was the giving of His sinless Son as an atonement for our sins (Romans 5:6-11).

God provided the apostles as witnesses of what He had done who would announce the deeds of the Son to the world (John 17:20; Acts 1:8,22; 2:32; 5:32). God also promised to confirm the preaching of the witnesses with miracles which would give additional credence to their words as being from God (2 Corinthians 12:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:5).

The apostles were guided into all truth (John 14:26; 15:26,27; 16:13). The preaching of the truth by the apostles was confirmed miraculously by God for the rest of their lives (Hebrews 2:1-4).

How Do We Respond To The Provider of Salvation
Today, we can hear, believe, and obey the message that was preached by the apostles (Acts 11:20,21). When we respond in this way, we are saved by what God did in Jesus Christ - (Colossians 2:12). For example, when the Ethiopian eunuch listened to Philip preaching Christ, he obeyed the gospel and was saved by what Jesus had done for him, and for us, on the cross (Acts 8:35-38). Likewise with Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:5,6,22,33; 11:13,14).

In both the above examples, and in every case of conversion we read about, men and women were saved by the listening to and responding to the gospel. We are saved as we respond in the same way to the same message as they!

Same Apostles; Same Miracles; Same Message; Same Salvation

It would not be correct to say that we do not need apostles and miracles today. We need their words and confirming miracles that their words are true. For that reason, both the words and the miracles have been recorded for us in the finished work of the apostles, the New Testament of Jesus Christ. That “perfect” revelation of God; the Covenant of Christ, is ours to listen to (1 Corinthians 13:8-10; Jude 3). The delivery of that message is now complete. When we build our lives on the teachings of Christ in the New Testament, we are building on the exact same foundation as the Eunuch and Cornelius and every other disciple in the New Testament! The “foundation” remains exactly where it has been since the first century (Ephesians 2:20).

The Word of Christ is God's Power to Save
The word of the gospel is God's power to save (Romans 1:16). Quite obviously, God's words are the most important words of all. They will save us, and save us forever (John 17:7,8; Ephesians 6:17).

It is the truth of Jesus' words, and the power of God in that truth, that gives us life (John 6:44,45,63,68). God's truth is the counterpoint to all of Satan's lies and deception. If it is Satan's lies that produce the problem of sin, it makes sense that it is God's truth that makes us free (John 8:30-32).

The Danger of Discontent With God's Word
Many seem to be less than satisfied with the simple beauty, wisdom, and power of God's plan (1 Corinthians 1:18-25). Is it too simple? Is it too difficult? Perhaps it is thought too confining and restricting? Or maybe there are just too few others that accept it. But none of these things change it from what it really is; our only hope and the hope of all who are in the world. So, whether others might be discontented with it or not, we must “preach” only Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians. 2:1,2).

Even the powerful words of God do not save if they are not obeyed (Hebrews 5:9). Also, certainly once having obeyed, we still need to listen and be guided by His word throughout our lives. We have seen God's truth offering salvation as opposed to Satan's deceit offering condemnation. For the rest of our lives, God will continue to provide reasons to listen to the Word of Christ, and Satan will provide reasons to ignore it. We will end up listening to one of them.

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 16.10; October 2009