“When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.”
It is recorded in Matthew 17, that on seeing Jesus, Moses and Elijah all together on Mount Tabor, Peter asked the Lord, “Let me make three tabernacles, one for You, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” The Father declared; “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him.….When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only” (Matt.17:5,8). Jesus’ own disciples held prophets like Elijah and Elisha in the highest regard. When some Samaritans rejected Jesus one day, James and John saw nothing wrong with asking Him, “Shall we call down fire from heaven to consume them?” (Luke 9:54). After all, they knew that was exactly what Elijah had done (2Kings1:10), and if it is in the Word of God, then that must be what God wants. Right?
Wrong! Jesus turned around and rebuked them (Luke 9:55). The prophets of old, like Elijah and Elisha, did not have a full revelation of the Father because they did not have a full revelation of the Son (John 1:18). They did things in the name of God that God allowed by His grace, but often they acted as children who did not know their father, or as Jesus said to James and John “You do not know what Spirit you are of.” (Luke 9:55) Jesus was saying in effect, “You don’t know your Father” and that is precisely why He promised them that when the Holy Spirit came, they would no longer have to live that way; as orphans! (John 14:16-18).
How did Jesus handle rejection? Can you imagine Samaritans running to the well in their village, not to meet Jesus, but to fetch water to put out a fire that He had brought down on them? On being insulted by a group of boys, Elisha cursed them and two bears appeared and mauled them (2Kings 2:23-25). Can you imagine Jesus doing that from the Cross to the crowd who mocked Him? Instead, His response to their jeers was to offer love and forgiveness (Luke 23:34).
A Christian today, who sounds more like Elijah or Elisha when discussing those who reject Christ, is resisting the Holy Spirit’s revelation of the heart of the Father for reconciliation (Rom. 5:5, 2Cor.5:18-21). These ‘orphans’ cannot truly reflect their Father, for in not knowing the depth of His forgiveness, they cannot minister the heights of His love (Luke 7:36-50, Luke 15:30). They live in a constant state of religious outrage with the world for rejecting Christ and their ‘gospel’ message centres not on reconciliation, but retribution. Like James and John on that day before the Samaritan village, it is not a loving Saviour they want for their ‘enemies’, but an avenger. This is the ‘orphan’ believer, but not so much orphan Annie as orphan Arnie (Schwarzenegger), with a ministry not of reconciliation, but of Rambo! It will be his sort of patience you exhibit with those who refuse Christ, as long as you desire that some should perish. But that is not the patience of Him who desires that none should perish, but all come to repentance (2Peter.3:9).
It is great to be able to speak in tongues and prophesy and heal the sick, but none of those are the primary reason the Holy Spirit was given. He was given so that our witness of God to this world would be “Abba, Father” (Rom.8:15), for only those who are living in the Father’s love can manifest His true face to the world (John 1:18. 2Cor.3:18).
Unlike Elijah and Elisha, John the Baptist is never recorded as doing a miracle and yet Jesus described Him as the greatest prophet (Matt.11:11). That was because the greatest prophet is the one who sees Jesus the clearest, for he who sees Him, sees the Father (John 1:18,14:9, Col.1:15, Heb.1:3). When John, full of the Spirit (Luke 1:15), got to look at Jesus face to face, he declared what all other Old Testament prophets (even those around today!) cannot declare; “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).
You may think as a parent that continually pointing out to your child their faults, will mature them into a responsible person, but all you will grow in your home is a legalist. They will grow up to see fault everywhere and for them, the glass will always be half-empty. They will do everything right, but in the wrong spirit (Rom.10:2-5). They will live a very correct but a very sad life (Titus 1:15).
Let our message and our ministry fix people’s eyes, not on what they should be doing for God, but on what God has done for them; Christ and Him crucified (1Cor.2:2). Point them to the Cross. Don’t ask people to die to their old way of life, to attempt what only Christ could do; put to death their old life! (Rom.6:6-11). Such teaching only stirs up the flesh and revives the religious spirit (Gal.3:1-3, 1Cor.15:56). Don’t point people to their obedience as their hope, but to Christ’s obedience (Rom.5:19). Don’t preach half a gospel. Don’t point people to how far short they have fallen of the glory of God, without pointing them higher still, to the Cross; the glory of God not falling short of them (John 17:22).
To a Church where many still want to make a place for the Law, right alongside a place for Jesus, the voice of the Father is being heard across the world, declaring, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” Let us not try and raise ourselves above others. Let Christ lift us up and we will find, like Peter, that when we look again, we see Christ and Him only (Matt.17:8).