Matthew 17 – Fulfilment & Provisions

Jesus the Fulfilment

Just six days after rebuking Peter and calling him satan, Jesus invited him along with James and John to one of the most extraordinary events mentioned in the Bible. He took Peter and the brothers to a high mountain where He was transfigured in front of them.

His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.

Matthew 17:2

Right at that moment, Moses and Elijah also appeared before Jesus and were talking to Jesus and the three of them were engulfed in a cloud with a voice from heaven saying,

“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

Matthew 17:5

Why did Jesus’s appearance change in such a way? Why was this even necessary? Why did He want three of His disciples to witness this encounter? These are some of the questions that we ponder on while reading this passage.

We must understand that He left all His glory and came in a human form to save us from our sins. It is because of our sins that we were driven out from God’s presence and have created a distance between heaven and earth. Jesus came down to bridge that gap and connect us back to our Father.

While the purpose of Jesus meeting Moses and Elijah is not clear, such type of heavenly gathering needed Jesus to be in His heavenly form. Perhaps the communion of the three signifies for us and the disciples, the fulfilment of the laws and the prophecies, all of which pointing towards the Son of Man, Jesus.

Jesus asked the disciples not to tell anyone until He was raised from the dead. He probably did not want the disciples going and telling everyone what they saw without the understanding of what they saw and why. Perhaps it was not the time yet, as the disciples still hadn’t understood that Jesus’s purpose of coming to the earth was to save us from our sins by giving His life and being raised again.

When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.

Matthew 17:22-23

Jesus specifically chose only three disciples for witnessing this extraordinary incident and left the nine behind. It is usually said that Peter, James and John were the inner circle or the core group and so were chosen but that it is not the case. Jesus chose the three to witness this incident according to His purpose to be fulfilled and witnessed by the three. There is no favouritism in the realm of God. Sometimes, we might be proud that God has chosen us for something over other people, we should be clear that it is because God has a purpose through that and not that we deserve it.

Jesus the Healer

A man came to Jesus and kneeling before Him asked to heal his son who was demon-possessed. He also said that he had previously taken his son to the nine disciples that Jesus had left behind but the they couldn’t drive out the demon.

“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.”

Matthew 17:17

Jesus healed the boy but His response seems harsh. As we have seen before also, faith is the most important thing that one should have and it was clearly missing here. Mark gives a detailed account of this incident where the father of the boy tells Jesus,

… But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Mark 9:22-23

The father of the boy did not trust Jesus and the disciples also did not have the faith to heal (Matthew 17:20). Often times we can relate ourselves to both the father and the disciples. Sometimes we do not trust God with our problems and forget that nothing is impossible for God.

Jesus the Provider

One day, the temple tax collectors went to Peter and asked if Jesus pays the temple tax to which Peter replied that “yes, He does.” Later, when Peter went inside the house, Jesus asked Him a question first,

… “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes —from their own children or from others?”

Matthew 17:25

Peter diligently answered that the tax is collected from others. To which Jesus said, “Then the children are exempt.” What did Jesus mean by that? Just like the children of the king are exempted from paying taxes, we, the children of God are also exempted from paying the taxes for the kingdom of God. This is because, Jesus came into this world and gave His life as a tax for us. We should not think that our entry is free into the kingdom of heaven, but understand that the price has already been paid by Jesus on the cross and His resurrection has set us free.

“But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

Matthew 17:27

What does Jesus mean by offense here? Jesus did not want to offend the tax collectors by telling them that ‘the children are exempt‘, but Jesus is trying to tell us that we should not offend anyone by the new ways that God is teaching us. We shouldn’t go and condemn someone that what they are doing is wrong but just wait for God to direct them.

Jesus paid the tax for Simon and Himself in an unusual manner. This provision is for us to understand how Jesus paid the tax in a supernatural way so that we can enter into His kingdom as He has became the provision for our sins and replaced us to take the punishment for our iniquities.

Let us understand the glory of God and have faith in the provisions He makes for us every moment.

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