Frank Retief was pastor at St James Church Cape Town for 31 years, having planted the church in 1968 with his wife Beulah. He became the Presiding Bishop of the Church of England in South Africa until he retired in 2010. Frank remains active in ministry through preaching, teaching, pastoral work & writing, and has authored a number of books.
You are the Christ
Mark 8:29 “But what about you” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered: “You are the Christ”
This is an amazing moment in the Gospel narrative. Matthew records it in more detail in Matthew 16:13-20. He goes on to say that Jesus replied: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in Heaven.”
Have you ever wondered why it is that which is so clear to you about Jesus and the Gospel message, seems so difficult and obscure to others? Or why when in a Church service you can be so moved yet others next to you on the same pew seem utterly untouched by the message?
Here is a strange and profound truth. Just as Simon could not have recognised Jesus as the Messiah in and of his own understanding, neither can we comprehend the truth about Jesus unless it is given to us to understand. God in His great Grace opens our eyes and suddenly we can see what was formerly hidden from us.
This should be a cause of wonder and praise that, in His great mercy, He should have opened our eyes to the truth. All the healings of blind beggars or people in the Gospel foreshadowed this great event – the Holy Spirit opening our understanding so that we may believe in Christ and be saved.
As a result we should walk very humbly before God in full awareness that we are what we are by His mercy and grace alone. Consequently when we encounter those who do not understand, comprehend or believe the Gospel we should deal with them in great humility and with compassion – not argumentatively or arrogantly. For once we too were blind and could not see. We should pray that God would be gracious and open their understanding so that they may see and believe with their hearts.
This should also be a reminder to us that we cannot simply argue or persuade people to believe. That must also be the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts and minds. This should lead us to pray much for our loved ones and friends so that as we have opportunity to speak, our words will be accompanied by the life-giving power of the Spirit. And may we than have the joy of seeing many come to faith as a result of God’s gracious revelation to their hearts.
Prayer: “Dear Lord of all Glory. Help me to remember that once I was blind but now I can see, only by your grace. Give me love, patience, humility and compassion for others. Use me as an agent to bring the words of life to them. Open their eyes, their hearts, their understanding so that they too may believe and be saved. Amen”