The Lord Jesus said and did many things while on earth – not a single one of which was or could be deemed redundant, expendable, excessive or surplus to requirement. Every word He spoke – be it a passing comment or an entire sermon, every act He engaged in – be it a premeditated healing or impromptu act of kindness, was not random, accidental or aimless even when it seemed spontaneous and reactive. All were point perfect with immense teaching value to us.
Christ’s reaction to Peter’s extraordinary response regarding His identity is a case in hand. On the face of it this seemed like a chance reaction occasioned by the event and one that would not merit any further consideration. However, upon closer scrutiny, it turns out to be a deep, intense and strikingly revealing reaction – certainly not something to be glossed over. In a few short sentences The Lord lets loose profound and ground breaking truths of eternal significance. He introduces the concept of church for the first time ever – her foundation, her constitution, her chief architect and builder not to mention the matter of her ownership and security – all dealt with in a few short and sharp sentences that make up Christ’s reaction to the apostle Peter’s response to the question of His identity.
And at the start of it all Christ emphatically pronounces Peter “blessed” for his response giving a whole new meaning to the term “blessedness”.
Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven (Matthew 16:17).
The Lord unhesitatingly pronounces Simon “blessed” not, cue this, for somewhat working out His true identity but for it being revealed to Him by God the Father. This knowledge of Christ’s identity was not arrived at by Peter’s lofty and impressive deductive abilities but by the graciousness of God – it was neither earned nor deserved. Jesus was letting Peter (and indirectly all of us) know that this knowledge is not arrived at by natural means but divine revelation – it had been given to him by God. Peter had no role in generating this knowledge. Peter did not somewhat work it out himself however clever he may have been. And from the record we can confidently say that he was not known for being especially clever. He was, in fact, known for putting his foot in his mouth. That was what Peter was known for doing. Yet this very person who was known for putting his foot in his mouth was the very person God in His divine foreknowledge and unfathomable grace chose to reveal this truth to and trust him with it. This, Christ declares, is true blessedness.
The fact that we are divinely enlightened to this truth and not arrive at it due to our own cleverness should cause us to be humble and immensely grateful to God for His kindness in revealing it to us. It is this state of being favoured by God in granting us this unmerited and undeserved privilege where all our cleverness amounts to naught and is unable to produce nothing that is termed, by Christ, as “blessedness”. For the Lord this was what being blessed constituted of – being honoured by God to have one’s eyes opened to this truth and revealed to them, that was what being blessed meant unlike many of us us who often look to the material in order to consider and declare ourselves blessed.
The knowledge of God and Christ has nothing to do with one’s natural abilities or cleverness but is a work of God’s amazing grace in one’s life.The knowledge of who Christ truly is not arrived at through our own deductive capabilities but through revelation from God the Father Himself. It is a work of His amazing grace that we can comprehend Christ’s true identity. It is purely and entirely a work of grace that God so chooses to reveal the identity of His Son to us and not something that we can naturally acquire or is transferred to us from others like other knowledge can be. It is a divinely mediated work of grace. Just like no one comes to the Father except through Christ (John 14:6) so too no one can come to Christ except the Father reveal it to him – “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). It is such as these that Jesus pronounces blessed, those whom the Father would reveal and draw toward the Son.
Our knowledge of God and Christ is a gift of God’s grace, a phenomenal work of God’s grace in our lives.
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins …. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Ephesians 2:1, 4 – 5
We were made alive with Christ by grace alone for we were dead and totally helpless, unable to aid ourselves in any way, shape or form. Hence there is no room left for boasting as our knowledge of Christ and saving faith in Him was initiated and conditioned by grace – For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8 – 9).
The apostle Paul understood and appreciated grace very well. He knew that God’s revelation of Christ in his life was not initiated or conditioned by anything else but grace no matter how zealous and passionate a religious person he may have been. His calling was a result of God’s grace that led to Christ being revealed to him.
But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; (Gal 1:15 — Gal 1:16)
When writing to the Christians at Corinth who were split along the lines of the ministers they most appreciated, Paul made it abundantly clear to them that their position in Christ was not at all initiated or conditioned by who any of them were or what they had but by God alone. So is ours.
Brothers, consider your calling:… God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one can boast in His presence. But it is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus, (italics mine) who became God-given wisdom for us—our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, in order that, as it is written: The one who boasts must boast in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:26, 28 – 31