Sunday 2nd June 2024

We were eyewitnesses of his majesty …
We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven

when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
2 Peter 1:16-18 (NIV)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Earlier this week there was an absorbing TV documentary recalling the D-Day landings in Normandy in June 1944.  It featured an unobtrusive narrative holding the programme together, and contained contemporary film footage and photographs, but what was most gripping was the personal testimony of those who were there.  It is now 80 years since D-Day, so these veterans were all around 100 years old. 

And yet their memories of the events all those years ago were detailed, clear and definite.  One veteran had arrived by landing craft on the beach, another had been involved in bombing the beaches beforehand, another had landed by glider, another had worked as a radio operator.  Yet their memories were clear – they could almost have been describing what happened a few days ago, not eighty years ago.

The New Testament, of course, relies on eyewitness testimony from those who were with Jesus, who saw him and heard him and even touched him.  So the apostle John, speaking of Jesus, can say, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we had looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life” (1 John 1:1). 

Similarly, the apostle Peter, referring to the transfiguration of Jesus, can say, “we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty … we were with him on the sacred mountain” (2 Peter 1:16-18).  He was there, he saw Jesus, and he heard the voice of God.

Although not himself an eyewitness of Jesus, doctor Luke clearly values and depends on eyewitness testimony. He begins his Gospel by saying that, “the things that have been fulfilled among us … were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word” (Luke 1:1-2).

It was noticeable how the testimonies of the D-Day veterans were presented as if they could be trusted.  It was helped by the fact that there were perhaps a dozen of them being interviewed, all recounting different parts of the same story.

Scholars now generally agree that the New Testament, including the Gospels, was written in the years 60-90AD, in other words only about 30-60 years after the events they describe.  Is there any good reason not to trust the testimony of those who were there to witness the truly extraordinary events surrounding the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus the Son of God – surely the greatest ever ‘landing’ there has been?

Father, grant us to know the truth about Jesus, and so have life in his name.  Amen.

Yours warmly, in Christ,
Chris Hobbs (Senior Minister)