When you drive west into Jasper National Park from my home town of Edmonton, Alberta, your landscape changes from the prairies to the rocky mountains. If it is a clear day, you begin to see in the horizon the tops of snow capped mountains. Soon you pass through the Jasper National Park gate where a stretch of highway is nestled between a river and various lakes as clear as sparkling water.
Leaving the city behind, I breathe. All my worries, and planning, and goals, and life’s details that I tend to ruminate on do not disappear, yet my perspective changes. How cannot it not, when surrounded by (for lack of better words) breath-taking scenery.
In Matthew 16:13-20, we read when Jesus brought the disciples away from the city to the remote region of Ceasarea Philippi, located in the foothills of Mount Hermon. Mount Hermon is a cluster of mountains approximately 1000 square km and its peaks are snow covered most of the year. These mountains were the scenic backdrop when Jesus said to Peter, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18).
A True Confession
Peter had just confessed Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah. While others were still asking for miracles, and believed Jesus to be a prophet come back to life, Peter saw Jesus as He truly was – the Son of God.
Jesus answered Peter;
“Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.“(emphasis added) Matthew 16: 17
In the foothills of Mount Hermon with an appealing snow-capped mountain range in the horizon, our Father in heaven revealed Jesus’ true identity to Peter. It may not have been an audible voice, but Peter listened and knew. His perspective changed, his faith in Jesus sealed, and later he became the first great leader in the church of Jerusalem.
When I am in the rocky mountains, surrounded by divine beauty, if someone was to ask me “Who do you say Jesus is?” I would not hesitate to say that He is the Son of our Heavenly Father, who came to life to save us and give us eternal life. But when I am in midst of my city life full of its own troubles, I must remember to also breathe in His divine presence. The homeless I pass on my walk to work every day through a downtown mall, the closed up shops I see that could not continue due to the pandemic, a friend who is asking for prayers for her five-year old niece with cancer; all these troubles I see can be disheartening.
What gives us our faith?
Yet, it is not our surroundings, what we see that give us our faith. It is our Father in Heaven who reveals Himself to us. Our proof is in the words of our Bible and the testimony of believers. (NIV, Life Application Bible)
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29
How blessed we are to both see His majestical creations such as the rocky mountains, and to know His divine presence without ever needing to see His physical appearance.
Who do you say He is?