The key lesson in chapter 16 is Peter's confession of faith. The confession was made at the climax of the months of retirement. From that point on, Christ openly teaches the disciples about His crucifixion, and begins to make His way to Jerusalem.
Chapter 17 presents the transfiguration of Christ; one of the key events in His earthly ministry. This was the only time His glory, veiled in human flesh, was allowed to shine forth. The word "transfigure" is the same as our word "metamorphosis" and means "a change from within." This glory was not the reflection of outward light; it was the revelation of inward holiness. The same word is used in Romans 12:2 (transformed) and II Corinthians 3:18 (changed--referring to the Christian's growth in holiness).
Lessons taught by the transfiguration are as follows: (1) We will know each other in glory--the disciples knew Moses and Elijah. (2) Jesus was praying when He was transfigured--prayer brings the glory of heaven into our lives. (3) This was the first time, to our knowledge, that Moses set foot in the Promised Land. (4) Peter, James, and John were all to go through suffering for Christ; but this suffering only led to glory.
Any time you and I, as Christians, suffer for Christ, there will be glory added to our lives. Never question, never rebel against the opportunity of suffering for Christ, because He is faithful and just to overrule all suffering with His marvelous glory.
Chapter 18 presents the teachings of Christ concerning the Church and the Kingdom. In verse 1 the disciples asked Jesus, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" Jesus knew their hearts and gave them an object lesson in verses 2-6 by using a little child as an illustration of greatness. He pointed out that honor comes from humility. We must go down before God will lift us up (I Peter 5:5,6). All great saints have been humble servants. Even though a child is not sinless or perfect, he does have the characteristics necessary in every Christian's life. He is teachable; he is simple in his desires; he has an expectant attitude; and he depends on his father to meet his needs. We might question how one can become as a little child. This is accomplished through the second birth. If you have been born into God's family, you were born as a child, and began again to learn how to live; only this time you are living as God's child, rather than as His creation.
In chapter 18:15-35 God deals with the relationship between Christian brethren. If all Christians were perfect, there would be no need for any instruction. However, because we fail and sin, we need to know how to keep the church family happy and holy before God. In verses 15-20 God gives us a clear pattern of church discipline. First, a private interview with the one who has offended; then bring two or three witnesses; then take it to the church. Note the purpose of discipline. "Thou hast gained thy brother." The motive for church discipline is love. We are seeking to help the sinning brother. Our attitude should not be that of a policeman out to arrest the wrongdoer; but rather as a physician seeking to heal a wound in the body of Christ. We must note, however, that discipline is absolutely necessary.
A lesson on forgiving is given in verses 21-35. The Jewish Rabbis had said a person should be forgiven three times. Peter thought he was extra-spiritual, offering to forgive seven times; but Jesus pointed out that there is no limit to forgiveness. True forgiveness comes from a heart of love, and love keeps no records. One evidence that a person is saved is that he loves the brethren (I John 3:10- 17). Christians who cannot forgive others have forgotten what Christ did for them on the cross.MEMORY VERSE FOR TODAY: Man now can be: Reconciled. Colossians 1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself, by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
Index of Daily Devotions