Matters of Faith: Recognized, Reassured and Rewarded!

Rev. J_Loren RussellRecognized, Reassured and Rewarded!

By: Rev. J. Loren Russell, BA, MDiv.

Then Jesus asked them, ‘But who do you say I am?’” (Matthew 16:13-20 [v. 15])


This is a very intriguing text to say the least. In fact, the whole periscope is intriguing. Jesus asks the disciples who do men say that He is. Then he asks them who they say that He is. Intriguing texts! It’s intriguing because it would be easy to assume that the disciples, who had walked with Him, seen Him perform miracle, and heard Him speak like no one ever spoke before, knew exactly who He is.


In the text, Jesus begins to question his disciples about what they have heard from the people concerning his identity; “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?  And they said, ‘Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets’ (vv. 13-14). I seems as if Jesus is checking to see if His disciples have been influenced by the opinions of others, or if they had made up their own minds about who He is. No one but Peter would dare to speak at such a time as that! He’s the outspoken one. He’s the hotheaded one. He’s the brash, vulgar-mouthed, uncouth, soon to be sword-swinging Disciple! It had to be Peter who speaks up and declares, ‘We know who you are. We recognize you.’ “You are the Messiah, the son of the living God” (v. 16).  


Has other people’s opinions ever swayed you to change your mind and go along with them? Some people are very persuasive and can coax others to go along with their position. It’s just a good thing that the disciples were not persuaded by the opinions of those other folks. But, the challenge was not just for the disciples, it was for us too. Jesus desire to be seen. He desires to be known. His response also challenges us to look at ourselves. Are we easily swayed by the opinions of others? Are we even sure of who we are? Are we sure that we are the person we see in the mirror is who we say that we are? Jesus not only desires that we know Him, but through that knowledge, He desires to bless us. His response to Peter is direct and reassuring. “For this truth did not come to you from any human being, but it was given to you directly by my Father in heaven” (v.17).


But it does not end with just a reassurance. Jesus now rewards this faithful believer by telling him that He would build the church upon his profession of faith. It would be so well built, so sturdy, so secure, that even hell itself can never conquer it.


In a very real sense, life challenges us in the same way. We come with a perception and conception of who Christ is and what He means to us. We come with, in some cases, some very clear and precise understandings. Then we are challenged and our core beliefs are tested. Sometimes we respond in the same way the “others” did,Some say John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets” (v. 14). But, when we recognize Him for ourselves, we are reassured that the revelation was given to us directly by the Father in heaven, and we are already rewarded because we are the church, built so strong and secure that even hell itself cannot conquer us.


Who is He, and what is He to you?


Be Blessed.


Rev. J. Loren Russell is President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church and Financial Consulting, an associate minister at both Goodwill and Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx and hosts “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Soul 1 Radio (internet), Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM., or by phone at 626-226-1448.  


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