In 1826 Jedidiah Smith and his trappers survived the “Starvation country” of southern Utah and the Mojave Desert of Southern California. On November 27, they presented themselves at the San Gabriel Mission. In surprised unbelief, the Mexicans welcomed them, fearful at what the North Americanos had achieved. The mission personnel had no idea of fur trapping. When making a report to his superiors in Monterey, the alcalde called Smith a “fisherman.” Little could they know that the “fish” they trawled the streams to catch would bring unwanted thousands to live in the fertile valley of endless summer, while snow mantled high mountains. Spanish West, Time-Life, 176
When Jesus preached in Israel for 3 ½ years, he appeared everywhere as Smith’s trappers in California. No one knew what to make of him, given his superiority in teaching and non-pariel miraculous powers. No one knew his exact identity for the same reasons. Their definitions of him were as inappropriate as the Mexicans calling Smith a fisherman. “John the Baptist, Elijah, and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets,” Matthew 16:14, offered the highest marks uninformed people could ascribe. But none adequate and all infinitely short of his reality. Which is why Jesus followed that question to the disciples with the deeper, probing question, “But what about you?…Who do you say I am?” Matthew 16:15. Simon and the others amazingly got it right. They declared him “…the Christ, the Son of the living God” Matthew 16:16.
Make no mistake, and never stop short of that, Christians, when we talk with the unsaved. Whatever they may say about Jesus—count on it being incorrect, hopelessly false, or at least inadequate—gently insist he’s nothing less than Israel’s Messiah and God’s One and Only Son. Only by affirming that truth can we be Christ’s disciples
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