Eyewitnesses of His Majesty

Peter’s passion for the gospel is evident as he begins his letter and explains the power and love we possess in Jesus Christ to live transformed lives. He uses strong, bold language (e.g. “make every effort” or “be all the more eager”) and emphasizes how he wants his readers to remember all that he is teaching them. But passion and sincerity do not equal the truth, and Peter knows that. Later in his letter he will speak about false teachers who are bold in their preaching and make grand promises, but who are empty and vile. They have passion, but for all the wrong reasons. So, before Peter continues, he gives reasons why his passionate words are also true. Consider what he says in verse 16:

For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

2 Peter 1:16

The origin of Peter’s gospel story did not well up from within himself, nor is it hearsay from someone else. All the forgiveness, divine power, and glory of which Peter has been speaking are things he has seen and heard and experienced first-hand. Peter can speak about forgiveness because not that long ago on a lakeshore in Galilee, Jesus forgave Peter for his act of betrayal. Peter can speak of divine power because he had eaten breakfast with the Son of God who had just risen from the dead. Peter can speak about glory because he had fallen face down on the ground in the presence of the Glorious One.

Peter and his friends experienced the presence of the Lord Jesus with all five of their senses and so were the perfect witnesses to the historical facts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. However, it was not just that they personally experienced Jesus in the most authentic way possible, but that all they experienced was first written about in the Prophets. When Peter read the writings of Moses, Isaiah, and all the others, he found that they described what he had experienced. Moses wrote of a great prophet who would have the word of God in his mouth, and Peter heard the prophecies of Jesus and how he spoke the word of God with clarity and divine power. Isaiah wrote about the silent lamb that would be led to slaughter for the iniquities of the people, and Peter saw Jesus led to the cross for the sins of the world. Peter read the prophets proclamations of hope and restoration and saw those promises become a reality in Jesus.

Peter wants his readers to know that what he is teaching them is true. The glorious story of the gospel is true because it originates with God himself. The story is found in the Spirit-inspired writings of the prophets and in the eyewitness accounts of those who dwelt with the Word-made-flesh. The gospel is not a clever story perpetuated by passionate, well-meaning believers. It is an historical event attested to by many witnesses with global, even cosmic, significance. It is a story worth getting passionate about.

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