Musing on 2 Peter & Jude, Part 7:
When the God of love puts on flesh and bone, he doesn’t behave as we do. We see this in every recorded incident, and we can only speculate about what happened behind the scenes.
Imagine interacting with Jesus, having him gaze into your eyes, see right through your soul, and prompt transformation merely by a simple exchange at a well or on a dusty road. The apostle John said the entire world couldn’t contain all the books written if every interaction or kindness or mercy were recorded.
When we read the gospel eyewitness accounts with fresh eyes, we are perpetually astounded.
- When we would have been snarky, Jesus spoke softly.
- When we would have ignored someone’s sin, Jesus drew their attention to it.
- When we would have run from the leper, Jesus touched him.
- When we would have aimed ourselves toward the rich and influential, Jesus continually annoyed and confronted them, focusing his mercy on the poor and outcast.
When humans interact with the Word, it is still eventful. He truly sees us.
The authors of 1 & 2 Peter and Jude knew Jesus personally. It shows in everything they write.
Jude grew up in the same home with Jesus. Imagine having a do-gooder older half-brother who never got in trouble, one whose birth was mysterious and miraculous, one who never did anything wrong and always did the right thing, the favored one. Imagine having your parents hold up the perfect One as the example.
“Why can’t you be more like your older brother?”
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, his brothers thought he was crazy, goaded him, and didn’t believe. Most Jews expected Messiah to establish an earthly kingdom, not to make the religious leaders angry, to spend time with tax collectors and other sinners, and to heal and feed people.
But, after Jesus’ resurrection, Jude, James, and all his other brothers were transformed. They believed. They preached and founded churches. They lived itinerant lives.
In his letter, Jude calls himself a slave of Jesus Christ. He labels his big brother as our only Sovereign and Lord. The Greek word for Lord is kyrios, the equivalent of YHWH. In his last verse, Jude proclaims Jesus as Holy God through Whom God works as Savior. The perfection of his older half-brother now made sense.
Peter spent three years with Jesus in the most difficult circumstances. Together they sailed stormy seas and walked miles, covering a large geographical area on foot, sleeping on the ground, eating on the fly, and never having any privacy for personal needs.
People are not generally their best under these circumstances. The disciples quibbled and argued, doubted and complained. Jesus was flawless. Peter saw it.
In his first letter he circles back repeatedly to the model of Christ’s selflessness on the cross and in his interactions. Jesus didn’t retaliate. He returned a gentle answer for a harsh word. He patiently washed feet while disciples quibbled. He offered himself up to die. Peter was an eyewitness. In his second letter he explains how knowing Christ transforms our lives. He had firsthand experience.
These men saw the Old Testament prophecies of Messiah come true before their very eyes.
- They knew the Man personally.
- Jesus’ superiority and blamelessness—even at home and even in the worst conditions—verified that he was God in the flesh.
- Peter heard God’s mountaintop pronouncement that Jesus was his own Son.
- These men witnessed the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Messiah as Suffering Servant, thus proving the truth of God’s Word.
- They heard Jesus say he would return again as Conquering King, thus making sense of all the mixed Old Testament messages.
- They listened to Jesus speak of Adam, Noah, the Flood, and other Old Testament events as factual. Thus, they use Old Testament evidence as proof of future judgment.
- They beheld Christ risen and alive again, proving the truth of prophecy and of Jesus’ deity.
Without a doubt, God’s Word is true, these men who knew him tell us. Defend it. Live by it.
The living, breathing Word-made-flesh and God’s Word are all wrapped up together. The One who inspired the Word through his Holy Spirit fulfilled the Word in all points, explained the Word, and is the Word. Jesus is the living embodiment of the Word. He is the Word.
We must pay attention. These letters teach us valuable lessons.
Top three photos: Creative Commons.