For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.2 Peter 1:16-18
Peter writes to believers in Jesus to remind them of the truth they were taught. He assures them that he and the other apostles were eyewitnesses to the events of Jesus’s life. These aren’t “cleverly devised stories” that we read about in the New Testament. Peter was there when Jesus healed people. He was there when Jesus cast out demons. Peter was there when the fish and loaves were multiplied and when Jesus walked on water. He saw Jesus’s power on display firsthand.
Peter recalls here the moment when he was an eyewitness, with James and John, of the transfiguration. In fact, Peter was the one who spoke to Jesus in His transfigured form as he tried to make sense of what he was seeing. Here is Matthew’s account of that moment:
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.Matthew 17:1-8
It is important that we remember that when we read the New Testament, we are reading firsthand accounts of people who were there. These are people who were expecting their own death in the near future, as Peter did, and decided to start writing down things for future generations Christians.
These are not made up stories passed down from one person to the next. And these are not accounts of a good rabbi teaching nice things. These are eyewitness accounts of the miraculous power of the Son of God, God-incarnate, Jesus the Messiah.
One of my favorite quotes about the validity of the resurrection of Jesus comes from Charles Colson:
“I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”Chuck Colson
These apostles gave their whole life for the truth of the gospel, the truth of what they saw with their own eyes that they passed on to us through the writings of the New Testament. We have now experienced in our own lives what they said was true and our lives are forever changed by it. Now we have the honor to give our whole lives to Jesus and the truth of the gospel. Now it’s our turn!