May 15, 2023

In 2023, Peachtree Church is reading through the Gospel of Matthew and Paul’s Epistle to the Romans in conjunction with the sermon series New: Rediscovering the Story and Significance of Jesus. Devotionals are sent by email three days each week. Monday’s email includes additional background, history, and cultural information to help us better understand the texts. On Tuesday and Thursday you will receive a devotional based on one portion of the texts for this week.

Text for this week

Introduction to the Texts

The 17th chapter of Matthew’s gospel begins with a moment in Jesus’ ministry that always shines in my mind. Reminiscent of Moses climbing to the top of Mount Sinai to receive the Law from God, Jesus takes three of his disciples to the top of a high mountain. Rather than receive a new law atop the mountain, Jesus instead becomes transformed, with his face shining like the sun and his clothes as white as light itself. This transfiguration parallels the appearance of Moses when he returned to the camp of the Israelites after spending time on Sinai with the Lord.


In this strange moment, Jesus and the disciples are also joined by Moses and Elijah. Peter, whose mouth often moves quicker than his brain, offers to make the situation permanent by setting up camp on the mountain. While Peter is still trying to speak, God’s voice reminds the disciples that Jesus is God’s beloved Son, and that He is well pleased with Jesus.


Soon after descending back to reality, Jesus heals a boy from demonic possession—something the disciples had unsuccessfully attempted earlier.  When Jesus can easily do what his followers could not, the disciples want to know why. The answer is simply that they did not have faith that their attempts to rebuke the demon will be successful.


Jesus’ journey continues into Galilee, where he reminds the disciples that the goal of his ministry is one about which they are not pleased to be reminded: his death and resurrection.


The chapter ends with a seemingly strange discussion between Jesus and Peter, after Peter is questioned about whether or not Jesus approved of paying the two-drachma temple tax. This tax was first mentioned in Exodus 30, and was originally a tax of half a shekel (or two drachmas), which was the equivalent of seven grams of silver. (In 2023 terms, this is roughly a third of the silver in a silver dollar.)


Perhaps the most beautiful aspect of Jesus is that in Him we can see God in a way that makes sense to our human understanding. In the moment of the Transfiguration at the beginning of this chapter, Peter, James, and John were able to see the human Jesus clothed in the fullness of His divinity. Most of us need to be able to see the immense divinity of God in human terms, yet here we have a reminder that the disciples needed to see the reverse: they needed to see the human Jesus as divine.

For Discussion

Do you most need to be able to see the divine nature of Jesus or God made flesh? Why?


How does knowing both of these sides of God change how you approach Him?


Gracious God, we thank you that you have come into the world in a way that allows us to know you in a way that makes sense to us. Help us to not become complacent with the idea of Jesus, but instead to know you in fullness as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name we pray; amen.

Rev. Scott Tucker
Pastor for Grand Adults