Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 5 Study # 8
Thesis: The reasons we are as far from God as we are are two: unbelief and fear.
Introduction: There are more than 134 texts in the New Testament that address the fact that people are afraid (I just "searched" the verb and noun forms of "fear"). Luke is a primary user of both the verb (37% of the uses) and the noun (27% of the uses) in Luke/Acts. This means that Luke considered "fear" to be a major problem for everyone and particularly for believers. According to 1 John 4:18, "there is no fear in love". Two facts stand out about this text: first, it makes everyone who is afraid of anything deficient in love; and, second, it was written by a man whose own experience with fear was profound even at the end of his exceptionally long life of discipleship -- Revelation 1:17.
There is ample evidence in the Bible that "fear" is a powerful driver of ungodliness. Paul had to challenge Timothy to rekindle his spiritual gift because he was giving in to fear and he pointedly told the Corinthians that the absence of love was a sufficient basis to wipe out the "profit" of even the most potent of spiritual gifts.
Now, the tension we face is this: there is, apparently, no "final fix" for "fear" in this life, but every time we are afraid we are pushed into doing things we ought not to do. This leads to two possible responses. On the one hand, we can look at the fact that we will never be rid of fear altogether and just give in. On the other hand, we can take the fact that there are buried abscesses of fear in us as a challenge and decide to go forward with God's grace upon us and deal with each of those abscesses as He directs our paths as did the Psalmist in 56:3-5.
The text before us this morning is a record of the Father's response to Peter's unguarded outburst as he thoughtlessly demeaned Jesus by making the manifestation of His glory greater than the reality and by making Moses and Elijah His equivalents simply because they were recipients of the impact of that glory. We are seeking to profit from this record of the Father's reaction.
March 28, 2010
- I. The Father's Reaction.
- A. The text is clear that what happened took place while Peter was uttering his nonsense.
- 1. The major problem was that Peter meant what he said, but he could not have been more wrong.
- 2. The fact that the Father immediately responded indicates that it was Peter's error that moved His response.
- B. The text reveals that the Father's response was the making manifest of a truth that is basic to His essence and His commitment to His people.
- 1. The appearance of the cloud was a manifestation, not a new reality.
- a. The cloud's meaning was intuitively understood by Peter, John, and James.
- 1) Clouds are not a new phenomenon and fishermen had to have had a great abundance of experience of the appearance of fog.
- 2) There was no "obvious" reason for the fear that gripped the disciples: thus, there had to have been an intuitive awareness that was taken to be a threat.
- b. The cloud was a throw-back to the setting that had created Peter's senseless words: the original Exodus and the manifestation of the presence of God.
- c. But the fact is this: cloud, or no cloud, God is present -- always has been, always will be.
- 2. The manifestation completely enveloped them.
- a. This was a new revelation.
- 1) In most of the experiences of the saints of old, the cloud was avoided: few dared to even attempt to enter into it because, as Hebrews 9:8 says, the "way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest."
- 2) During the period of the Law, the danger involved in being surrounded by, and immersed in, the presence of God was palpable (Hebrews 12:18-21).
- b. But this was not actually a new experience.
- 1) That the cloud "overshadowed" them is a direct link to Luke 1:35 where Jesus entered into His physical presence by means of an "overshadowing".
- 2) God's condescension to Mary's physical state for the purpose of giving us Jesus is a statement: Jesus makes the presence of God a "promise" instead of a "threat"; a new revelation that began with Mary.
- C. The text reveals that the Father's response was audible.
- 1. The sound is cast in the same terms as that of Peter -- a thoughtless outburst of what exists in the heart.
- 2. The sound was a fundamental correction of everything that was wrong with Peter's outburst.
- a. Jesus is "My Son".
- 1) He is Who and What I am.
- 2) If you are not "afraid" when you are with Him, why are you afraid now?
- a) Fearlessness based upon arrogance is foolishness beyond measure.
- b) Fearlessness based upon acceptance is absolutely correct.
- b. Jesus is the One Whom I have chosen.
- 1) The textual difference is explained by 2 Peter 1:17, but the record is that the Father did to Jesus what Jesus did to The Twelve in Luke 6:13.
- 2) The issue here is this: Jesus is the Apostolic Son; He was sent to make as clear as possible that the Father is willing to accept those who are willing to turn to Him.
- 3) The reason for fear is simple: men do not believe that God is as gracious as He is.
- a) This is not about some kind of diminishing of the glory of God wherein man has no reason to fear because his behavior is not that abhorrent to God.
- b) This is about the glory of God wherein man's absolutely abhorrent behavior is met by an absolutely adequate provision.
- II. The Father's Grace.
- A. The content of the Father's "demand".
- 1. All of Life hinges upon legitimate understanding.
- a. Where there is misunderstanding and fear, there is death.
- b. Where Truth is understood and believed, there is Life.
- 2. The Father's command, "Hear Him" cannot be set aside.
- B. The painless disciples.
- 1. The indisputable fact is this: the disciples came out of the experience no worse for wear.
- 2. Because Jesus was the one to whom they listened -- even if their listening was terribly flawed by ignorance, abscesses of fear, and sleepiness -- they had nothing to fear from the Father except "correction".