“God places a premium on encouragement. Encouragement comes when we ‘come alongside’ and ‘call out.’ At least that is the impression we get from its Greek definition. The noun paraklesis is the combination of para ( by the side) and kaleo (to call). Jesus modeled this.”- Mac Lucado
“He said to them, ‘But who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ “- Matthew 16:15-16 (NKJV)
In Chapter 2 (“Gimme Five, Rocky”) of How Happiness Happens, Max Lucado recounts the cruel antics of his big brother, Dee. For example, Dee liked to yank the covers off Max’s just-made bed. He’d wrestle Max to the ground and sit on his chest until he couldn’t breathe. Thus, Dee loved to find ways to pick on Max.
However, Max reports, Dee offset all this cruel treatment via one great act of grace. When choosing sides for the daily baseball game, Dee picked his third grade brother. Everyone else playing in the game went to middle school. But on that day, Dee decided to act like a good big brother.
The New Testament contains a word for such activity: encouragement. Hence, Jesus saw something in the heart of Simon, the crusty fisherman, worth calling forth. Even though, Pastor Lucado quips, we think of Peter as the disciple with the foot-shaped mouth.
In Jesus’ day, Caesarea Philippi was a cosmopolitan city, a melting pot of people. Above all, the city had many temples to every type of deity. Therefore, this maelstrom of religions and cultures provided the backdrop for Jesus’ question. Pastor Lucado explains the audacious words spoken by Peter:
“Christ, by definition, means the anointed or chosen one. The Christ, in the Hebrew mindset, wasn’t just head of the class; he was his own class. He wasn’t the final word; he was the only Word. Jesus, Peter dared to declare, was the Christ.”
Certainly, Jesus jumped for joy at Peter’s confession. Since Simon expressed rock-solid faith, he needed a rock-solid name. That burst of affirmation encouraged Peter.
Today’s question: What Bible verses tell you that Jesus places a premium on encouragement? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “What encouragers do – summon the best”