Summary: Pay Attention to the Bible! 1) It was placed in this dark world by God himself. 2) It alone leads us back to God in heaven.
Have you been following the news out of North Korea? That country is threatening to attack South Korea and its allies because it feels their recent war games are a warm-up for an invasion. Or didn’t you catch those reports and the real prospect of nuclear war because you were paying closer attention to the Jarome Iginla trade or following the latest Justin Bieber meltdown? I understand. There’s so much news available to us in this digital age that it’s hard to know what to focus on. We can’t even keep up with the Facebook posts and emails we receive every day from family and friends.
Our sermon text today is going to help us cut through the information overload so that we are directing our attention to the one news source that is eternally vital: the Bible. The Apostle Peter urges us to pay attention to the Bible because it was placed in this dark world by God himself, and because it alone leads us back to God in heaven.
Pay attention to the Bible? Wouldn’t that be like reading yesterday’s newspaper over and over again for the next two thousand years? It’s easy to think this way if you suppose that the Bible is a history book – and an inaccurate history book at that! After all who can really believe those stories about the miracles Jesus supposedly did? But listen again to what Peter claimed: “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. 19 And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts… For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:16-19, 21).
The Bible can be trusted because it’s filled with eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ life, not fairy-tales. Peter used Jesus’ transfiguration as an example. On a mountain north of Galilee six months before Jesus’ crucifixion, Peter saw with his own eyes Jesus’ appearance change so that he was shining as brightly as the sun. Peter wasn’t the only one to see this. James and John saw it too. And lest we think their eyes were playing tricks on them, Peter goes on to tell us that they heard the Father’s voice boom from heaven proclaiming that Jesus was in fact his Son.
But how can we be certain that Peter is really telling the truth? After all, couldn’t he and the other disciples have made up all these stories about Jesus? That’s certainly what Thomas thought in our Gospel lesson today (John 20). When the other disciples reported that they had seen the resurrected Jesus, Thomas defiantly refused to believe it unless he could touch the living Jesus. And of course that’s what Thomas got to do the following week when Jesus appeared to him.
But couldn’t that story have been made up? If it was, why were the disciples willing to die gruesome deaths for the lie? Some were crucified. Others stoned to death. You would think that at least one of them would have cracked and confessed that all those stories about Jesus were false or at least embellished. On the contrary, Peter tells us that not only the events in the New Testament which he witnessed are accurate, so is everything else we read in the Bible because, as Peter adamantly said, “…no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20b, 21).
It’s no wonder Peter urges his listeners to pay attention to the Bible. It was placed in this dark world by God himself. Think of the excitement there is in the scholastic community when long-lost letters written by someone famous are discovered. Those letters often shed new insights on that person’s character. Or think how exciting it would be to find a long-lost letter addressed to you by a now-deceased grandparent. Wouldn’t you cherish that letter and read it several times? Well you have something better in the Bible. Your living Creator and Savior has written to you! And for what purpose? To you lead you back to him so that you may spend eternity in the glorious and joyous place called heaven. Isn’t that what you’re after - a life free from pain, worry, loneliness, boredom, endless winter, and bad drivers? If so, then pay attention to the Bible.