“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.”
(2 Peter 1:16-18 ESV)
Eyewitness testimony is crucial in the court system. When someone is being tried, circumstantial evidence is typically not enough to convict. What’s needed is the testimony of one who was there, who saw and heard what had taken place.
The same was true in Old Testament times. In order to convict someone of a crime, they needed the testimony of at least two people. They needed multiple witnesses who were able to attest to what had taken place.
There are many, today, who equate the gospel with myth. They put it at the level of the accounts of the Greek gods. It’s just a story, they say, with no confirmation of its truth.
What they fail to realize is that the accounts, recorded in Scripture, are given by eyewitness testimony. It’s recorded by those who were actually there. They had seen for themselves the events that had taken place.
This is what Peter tells us in the above passage. What they were teaching to the people were not myths. They were proclaiming what they had seen and heard.
He goes on to describe the events that took place on the Mount of Transfiguration. He recalls how the voice of God rang out from heaven, telling them of Jesus’ identity. They heard him proclaim that Jesus is his beloved Son, with whom he is well pleased.
History tells us, in fact, that Peter went to his death for his testimony. The early Christian writer Hegesippus tells us that, when Peter was old, Emperor Nero planned to put him to death. And although the believers in Rome begged him to leave the city, he remained and was crucified. At his request, he was crucified upside down, because he did not count himself worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.
It was men like this who recorded the words and actions of Jesus. It was men like this who continued to proclaim the good news of God’s kingdom. They were not men greedy for wealth and power. They were not men looking to their own interests. They were not men looking to upset the system. These were men who were so convinced of the truth that they were willing to testify to it no matter the cost.
As we read Scripture, this is how we must read it. We must read it not as a story, but as eyewitness testimony. We must understand their words as those of men who are passing along what they had received from the Lord himself.