Pay Attention to the Light

Based on: 2 Peter 1:16-21

Dear Christians, in this world we are surrounded by spiritual darkness.  It is like being in a strange place in the middle of the night.  The sky is overcast – no moon, no stars.  Other people try to tell us which way to go.  They think they know.  One says, “Come with me I’ll show you where to go.”  Another says, “No, come this way.”  None of them have a light to help guide them and we wonder how they know where they’re going?  But Look! There is a light.  Pay attention to the light! This world is spiritually dark and God’s word is the only sure light able to guide us out of the darkness to our eternal home.

People in this world want to guide us in this spiritual darkness.  The world claims to have a light.  Science tells us, “We know where humans came from! Using our own minds we have figured out humans evolved on the earth. Humanity is in control of its destiny,” but they don’t have a light.  The prevailing philosophy of the day wants us to follow our own truth.  “I can believe what I think is true for me and you can believe whatever you think is true for you and we’ll get along just fine.”  But they don’t have a light.  And many churches today will say, “We are all one big happy family, it doesn’t really matter if you believe Jesus physically rose from the dead, the important thing is that you follow Jesus’ example to love your neighbor.  That is the light we need to follow.”  But, in truth, they don’t have the light.

Do you hear these lies, these cleverly invented stories the world offers as a light in this spiritual darkness? They seem like powerful arguments.  We hear them so often in this world we may even start to believe them or try to mix them with what God says.  Sometimes we might prefer to believe the lies rather than the truth of God’s word.  But Peter said, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories.”  Why did he say that?  Was the world at that time full of clever stories trying to get Christians to doubt God’s word, just like today?  Absolutely.

Satan also wants us to follow him.  Disguised as an angel of light, he comes to us and tries to lead us back into the darkness.  Satan’s ploy from the beginning is to get people to doubt what God said.  Remember, Satan’s first words to Eve in the Garden of Eden were, “Did God really say, ‘you must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”  Satan wanted Eve to doubt what God said.  Satan also wants us to doubt what God said.  More specifically, Satan wants you to doubt what God says about Jesus, that he came in power to save you from your sins.  And yes, the first coming of Christ was powerful.  The world did not recognize his power, but it took the power of the Son of God to take your sins away.  Satan wants us to doubt this and remain in the dark.

The world and Satan want us to doubt God’s word and look away from that light.  The sinner in us wants nothing more than to follow those who would lead us into darkness.  As a result we sometimes forget about the light.  Perhaps our Bible stays on the shelf a little too long without being read.  Or we neglect the Lord’s Supper.  Maybe we question God’s promises when we see the suffering in our lives or the lives of others.  If we ignore God’s Word then we wander back into darkness.

God provides a light in that darkness.  God gave Peter the words he wanted written and preserved them also for us today.  So God, through Peter, is telling us to remember that the light of God’s Word is not just “cleverly invented stories” because he knows that we are surrounded by cleverly invented stories.  God is telling us to pay attention because he knows that sometimes we don’t pay attention to his Word.  He is telling us to trust in the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ because he knows by Christ’s coming we are saved.

With his own eyes Peter saw Jesus reveal his glory to him.  As we heard in the Gospel lesson, Peter, James and John went with Jesus up a mountain and there Jesus was transfigured and became bright like the sun.  Peter saw the glory of the Lord.  In the Old Testament the Glory of the Lord is associated with God’s desire to save sinners and now the one who would carry out this desire was revealing his glory as true God.  Peter sees the light of the Gospel in visible form.  Peter heard the words of the Heavenly Father when he said, “This is my son, whom I love.” Yes, Peter knows from firsthand experience that Jesus is the Son of God and that Jesus came in power to save us.

Peter had an amazing experience on the mountain that day.  It certainly made an impression on him, but Peter doesn’t say that we have to have a mountain top experience like he did in order to be certain of our faith.  He doesn’t say, “I saw it firsthand, I was an eyewitness, all you have to do is trust me.”  He doesn’t even say, “I will pray for you so you have an experience like this too and then you’ll be sure of your faith.”  No, he says we have something even more sure, more certain, than his experience.  We have the sure word of God.

Peter exclaims, “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain.”  We can trust God’s Word.  There are two things to keep in mind when we look at this statement.  First, the word “prophets” refers not only to those who told the future, but all those who spoke God’s word.  Peter is referring to all the scriptures when he says, “the word of the prophets.”  Second, we will understand Peter’s point a little better in this translation, “And we have, as something more sure, the prophetic word.”  Peter is telling us, “Yes, I saw the glory of Jesus.  I am an eyewitness and I know what I tell you is true, but we have something that is even more sure, more certain, and that is the scriptures – the very words of God.”  The scriptures are the light that leads us through this dark place we live in, past the clever stories of this world, the lies of Satan, and the doubts of our own heart.

The Scriptures are sure and certain because they come from the true and faithful God.  Peter goes on to tell us that the scriptures didn’t come about simply because human beings decided to write something down.  He even repeats the thought, “prophecy never had its origin in the will of man.”  No, the scriptures came about because the Holy Spirit directed men to write down the words God wanted recorded.  This is true of the entire Bible, Old and New Testaments.  Peter wanted these Christians and us to know where the true and reliable light is found.  Through God’s Word we have the true and reliable light that illuminates for us the cross and the empty tomb – those sure and certain signs that God loves you, your sins have been paid for, and heaven is your home.

It is in the darkness that covered Mount Calvary on Good Friday that we see the glorious light of our salvation.  It is a light that banishes all of our sins of doubt to a place God does not look.  Our sins of forgetfulness are forgotten by God.  As for our sins of not paying attention to God and his word, God pays no attention to them.  What about our sins of following the temptations of this world instead of the sure and certain word of God? We can be sure and certain that they are forgiven because of Christ.  Now, on judgment day we will see that glorious light of Christ’s glory in the same way Peter saw it on the mountain.

Like a father sharing his wisdom with a child who is about to go out into the world, Peter instructs us concerning God’s word.  He says, “And you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the Morning Star rises in your hearts.”  Pay attention to it! As we pay attention to God’s word through Bible study, church attendance, and personal devotion and as we pay attention to the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the day will dawn and the Morning Star will rise in our hearts more and more.  We will recognize our salvation in the powerful coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and we will recognize the so-called “lights” of this world for what they are – “cleverly invented stories” and lies of Satan.

In this world there is still darkness, but God’s word dispels the darkness and shows us the love and forgiveness our Heavenly Father has for us because of Jesus who died for us.  This light is the porch light on our heavenly home welcoming us from far off, and when we see it we say, “Yes there is my home.  That is where I am going.”  Pay attention to this light.

Amen.

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