There are a lot of major decisions that we have to make in our life. The single largest financial decision we can make is whether to purchase a house. The single most important relationship decision we can make is who our life partner will be. However, the single most important decision of all our life and eternity is whether to follow Jesus or not. It really should be a no brainer, life or death, but there is that element of faith that is required. Is Jesus who he said he is? We all must face that question in our life and make a decision on the matter.
In Matthew 16 we find Jesus bringing his disciples to this point of decision. He asks them, "Who do people say I am?" We do the same thing. We consider what others say about Jesus. We listen to their reasoning, to their testimony, to their thoughts on why he is just a myth. Everyone seems to have an opinion but few look into the matter with any earnestness. They simply decide whose opinion they will side with and stick to it. The opinions about Jesus have always varied. The disciples answered Jesus' question:
“Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Matthew 16:14)
Then Jesus made it personal, as he always does with us. He asks them point blank, "What about you? Who do you say that I am?" There seems to be no hesitation from Peter on this matter. He says with no shame and no question, "You are the Messiah, the son of the living God." Perhaps they had been kicking this idea around among themselves for a while but it had to be spoken in the open. It needed to be confessed so that it would become concrete in their hearts. We have a lot of notions and ideas running through our heads. Plenty of dreams and emotions, but they do not take on a life until they are spoken. We may feel that we love someone but it is not proven to be true or false until we confess that love. It is the same for hate and plenty of other things. Even ideas become clearer for us when we speak them out loud to people. There is something very important in this moment that Jesus has provoked; a confession of faith that will carry these disciples through some very dark days that wait in their pathway.
It is here that Jesus makes something very clear for us. It is impossible for us to come to this conclusion on our own. The idea of Jesus, his purpose, what he did for us and what the result is in our lives is a concept that goes beyond mere human logic. It is the reason why it is rejected by so many people. In fact, as humanity plods on we are getting more assured of our own logic and reasoning and less accepting of this matter of faith. Our hearts are growing harder. Jesus makes it clear here that we need help to have faith:
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven." (Matthew 16:17)
We cannot come to accept Jesus Christ without the intervention of our Father. During a different time Jesus explained:
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day." (John 6:44)
This is the reason why the greater portion of the world closes their ears to the good news of Jesus Christ. They do not want to be saved from their sins. They are pleased to continue to their destruction.The people of this world are filled with pride and self-determination. Until they realize their true nature they will not have "ears to hear". Often it is only when they are absolutely desperate that they begin to open their ears and hearts to possibilities other than the limited reality they see around them. It is in these moments that the Father is able to touch their hearts. It is in these moments that we, his people, need to be found faithful in our confession of Jesus, in our testimony, in our acts of love.
We who claim to be followers of Jesus need to examine ourselves and ask the question, "Who do I say Jesus is?" Sometimes we can find ourselves following the traditions of our family instead of walking in a vibrant relationship of faith. Traditions will not save us. Only an encounter with Jesus, a confession of our faith is worth anything. We need to settle it in our hearts and stop being tossed back and forth. If we truly believe he is who he has claimed to be then we also accept every promise he has given us as true. This means there is no room for fear our worry in our life.We must accept the whole package not bits and pieces. Do you understand all the promises, the complete package or are you just looking at the eternity bit? What about the here and now? What purpose does he have for you? What has he promised for the mission he has given you?
It starts with the declaration of faith but it is followed by a lifetime of service.Peter confessed it and Peter faced the price that came with it. We want to confess it because of the benefits we see that comes with it but do we realize the cost? The stronger you get the more the enemy will try to destroy you. With the confession comes warfare. Tomorrow we will consider the cost of Peter's confession.