Why your every solution is found in Jesus and not in your performance or merit

(Scripture underline and bold emphasis ours)

Matthew 17:1-8 (NKJV)
1 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “ Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “ This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. 7 But Jesus came and touched them and said, “ Arise, and do not be afraid.” 8 When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

Let’s take a closer look at the three key figures in this passage:  

Moses represents God’s law (the operating system of the old covenant, or you we could also say, the way people were expected to relate to God in the old covenant)

  • This operating system had a “God-part” and a “man-part”
  • God gave man His perfect standard through his Law
  • As long as man lived by and satisfied those commandments and standards, he enjoyed the blessing and favor of God (this, of course was an impossible task since the Law of God is perfect and imperfect man could never live up to its perfect standard (see Psalm 19:7 & Romans 7:12)
  • When man failed to satisfy God’s law, he would experience the absence of God’s blessing and favor (the curses of the law – see Deuteronomy 28). 

Elijah represented the prophets of the old covenant

  • The old covenant prophets (John the Baptist being the last) spoke on behalf of God to the people
  • They would also give guidance and warning on behalf of God
  • Because these prophets were also man and women who lived under the law, to a great extent they also enforced the law of God through their prophetic calling

Jesus represents the new covenant (God’s grace) 

  • John 1:17 tells us that the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ
  • Looking further at scripture, we see that grace is the very Gospel and person of Jesus (Galatians 1:6)
  • Furthermore, Galatians 4:4-5 tells us that Jesus was born under the law in order to redeem all under the law, in other words, those who relate to God by their merit or performance (i.e. trying to earn and deserve God’s acceptance, blessing and favor, Galatians 4:21 through 5:4 confirm this)

Jesus through His death, burial and resurrection not only redeemed mankind but also instituted a new covenant, a new way of relating to God, one unlike the Law. The new covenant’s way of relating to God, or operating system is called grace:

Galatians 5:4 (NLT) For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace

Romans 6:14 (NLT) Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace

Now, going back to our initial scripture reference (Matthew 17:1-8), Jesus is up on the mountain and is transfigured (gloried in form), then Moses and Elijah appear to talk to Him (about His death on the cross). God then speaks out, the disciples fall on their faces and when they look up again, they only see Jesus, Moses and Elijah were gone!

Here is the revelation:  When Peter saw Jesus, Moses and Elijah, he attempted to honor them by offering to build a shelter for each. This indicates that in his mind, Peter saw them the same, that is, of same importance and significance to his godliness. At that point, regarding Jesus, God speaks out loud from the heavens and says, “hear Him!”. With this statement God makes it clear that the law and the prophets were now giving way to Jesus! Then to make it even clearer, Moses and Elijah are taken away so when the disciples look up again, they only see Jesus!

By glorifying Jesus and stating that we are to hear HIM, and by letting them see only Jesus after the fact, it becomes clear to us that the focus of our faith and standing before God is purely on the basis of who we are and what we have in Jesus and no longer our performance or merit!

In essence, we see Moses, who represents the law, and Elijah, who represents the voices of those who prophesied about Jesus, were both now being fulfilled in and by Jesus, thus they had served and fulfilled their purpose and the focus is shifted to Jesus Christ and Him alone!

This does not mean that a believer becomes an antinomian (one who rejects the law of God), but rather changes the focus on His faith to Jesus and allows the Old Covenant and Prophets to point him or her to Jesus and redemption in Jesus!

This is why your every solution is found in Jesus and not your performance or merit!

Does this mean that performance or behavior no longer matters? 

Certainly not! The perspective on it changes, let me explain: 

  • We no longer need to “do” in order to “get”, we “do” because we “have” 
  • We no longer need to live by a Godly standard so we can be blessed, we live by a Godly standard because we are blessed 
  • We don’t go to church, read our Bible and exercise christian disciplines because we’re trying to remain acceptable and pleasing to God, we practice these virtues because we are accepted and pleasing to God in Jesus
  • We don’t behave to impress and please God, we behave because we are impressive and pleasing to God in Jesus already!

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