Headline: The Christian, the Journey and the DestinationPosted on: 2014-08-28
It all ends in heaven
Christian life is a heaven-bound journey. Christians are in this world but are not of this world (1Jn.4:4-6). Sometimes the only way to justify the journey is by constantly remembering where it leads. Considering the experience of true Christians in this world one could always say “the end justifies the means”. That was the mind of Saint Paul when he declared: “We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him, whom he has called according to his plan” (Rom 8:28). Otherwise, why would anyone want to go through all the frightening things which Jesus sometimes had to say to his followers? “If you want to follow me, deny yourself take up your cross and follow me. For whoever chooses his life will lose it but the one who loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 16: 24-25). “.. if you want to be first, you make yourself the servant of all” (Matt. 16:27). I have come to bring fire upon the earth and how I wish it were already kindled” (Lk. 12: 49)! “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me” (Mt 10:37). It is doubtful whether any other leader or Master could have ever attracted committed followership with these kind of sad messages. Well, Jesus Christ did, yet his followers run into billions. All because of heaven! Jesus indeed must be a special personality.
Jesus of Nazareth
The Bible clearly teaches what to believe about Jesus. “But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4-5). Of him they confessed that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father… And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace.” (Jn. 1: 14, 16). John put into words the faith of those early Christians thus: “Yes, God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life” (Jn. 3: 16). So, in theory, there should be no doubt in serious-minded disciples on who Jesus is.
Who do people say that I am?
The Bible shows that Jesus’ ministry entails going from place to place, preaching the good news. In fact, “he went about doing good”. It is in this “journey mode” that Jesus can be best known. The idea of going on a journey in the Bible always implied an opportunity for change, change for a higher existence. That is why Abram had to leave his father’s land to another land (Gen. 12). The journey of a Christian must lead him to know Jesus as he really is. Unfortunately, so many Christians stop short of really knowing Jesus. The disciples of Jesus showed this when they journeyed with him to Caesarea Philippi. There, Jesus asked them: “Who do men say that the Son of man is? Some of them said John the Baptist, others said Elijah and yet others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. That was who they Said Jesus was
The turning point for Peter
Then Jesus directly questioned: “But you who do you say that I am?” Simon answered: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16:15-16). Jesus endorsed this answer and announced the transformation of Simon. “It is well for you Simon, Barjonah, for it is not flesh or blood that has revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. And now I say to you: You are Peter (or Rock) and on this rock I will build my Church; and never will the powers of death overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and what you unbind on earth shall be unbound in heaven” (Matt. 16:17-19). The secret of Peter’s success where others failed is that while others described Jesus by the reputation of the greatest of prophets and miracle workers, they failed to know him as the Messiah, the one who saves. Peter, on the other hand, did!
True disciples must be transformed
In Saint Matthew’s gospel, the only correct answer for a true disciple of Jesus is to know him as the Messiah, the Christ. For knowing that, Jesus gave Simon a new name, he became Peter, the rock. A simple fisherman became the rock upon which the Church would be built, one which the powers of death can never overcome. Huge change! Peter’s reward for knowing Jesus was to himself become a miracle rather than spend his entire life looking for miracles as many Christians do today. Really, that goes for every Christian. In order to become indestructible to the powers of death the disciple must know Jesus beyond what others say. Today people prefer Jesus who would give everything but leave them totally unchanged. The Jesus of Peter’s encounter changed his name, personality and his destiny. It was no different for Abram whose name changed to Abraham (Gen 17: 5), nor for Sarai who was renamed Sarah (Gen, 17:15). Would that all Christians have a similar encounter with Jesus! As many Christians would meet him like that would be transformed and become unconquerable for the forces of darkness. Such Christians would not necessarily be better than others but would be unique, special, transformed enough to become rocks on which the kingdom of God would be built and established.
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