Making History Matters: Some thoughts about a Jedediah Smith and his Christian Ministry.

Updated: Nov 29, 2020

I recently finished the book Jedediah Smith by Barton H. Barbour. It was a great read for those of you who are interested in Western History. Jedediah, for those of you don't know, was a Christian Mountain Man who had a hand opening up the west through trapping beaver. He would have been a Famous, Pacific Northwest personality like Lewis and Clark if it weren't for him being killed before he got his memoirs edited and published. Although his memoirs were never published God saw fit to make sure we could read his Journals as that have been preserved through countless calamities. It is a blessing, as there is much to learn From a man who endured so much.

Through the all the influence of movies like Jeremiah Johnson, Mountain Men, and the Revenant, Jedediah looks like a hero, and with the help of some over jealous scholarship and humans thirst for legends, Jedediah is easily painted as saint clothed in animal skins, but by his own admission, that scholarship couldn't be further from the truth. Jedediah actually saw himself as the prodigal and relied heavy on God's Grace.

The west was a Hard place. The naïve Jedediah found this out at an early point in his career when he encountered a Grizzly than peeled his scalp from ear to ear. He had to rely on one of his associates to crudely reattach it using no more than a needle and thread that was brought along to make field repairs on their gear. Many of the hardships pressed on the western explorers pushed them into decisions that never sat well with Jedediah. As the leader of a party of trappers who where in constant contact with Indians and the Spanish he led with an iron fist! To modern men, Jedediah's decisions look crass and unthinking, but if you step into his shoes, most were a necessity when living in such a fallen world. He often killed thieves, whipped troublemakers, and deceived whole governments to keep his parties and his own scalps. Hard places create hard decisions. Hard decisions create hard men. Hard men carry hard guilt, and hard guilt can never be paid for by earthly means. Jedediah knew far to well the weight of his sin. What is also apparent in Jedediah's journal and other witness accounts, is his realization of God's Grace. It seemed to be the fuel that drove him. His introspective and honesty was probably his strongest suit. For a man who accomplished so much it was refreshing to see that he didn't think more highly of himself than he should.


The Major Takeaways from peering into Jedediah's Mind:

  • All Men have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.

There is no one perfect, no not one. Rom 3: 9-18. Isn't it funny how everyone knows

this, yet everyone judges from it. Protestors judge others around them through this lens yet deny it in their own lives. The mere call for perfection in others (judgement) presupposes perfection on your part.

  • Guilt weighs heavy, but God's Grace surpasses it.

The men we look up to shouldn't be placed on the mantle for all the world to see because of their perfection, but rather from their realization of imperfection. Jedediah, King David, and Paul knew this and that's why they are spoken of as righteous men. They knew their position in life. They knew the evil of their actions, and most importantly they knew that they needed a savior if they were going to escape the pit of hell they chose with their vile actions. It was this Knowledge that actually created supernatural righteousness accredited to them.

You see, when you presuppose your own imperfect you suppose there that God (is There) other words you have faith.

This Faith is what is accredited to you as the Righteousness that you could never poses.

In other, other words the only way back to the relationship to God that our imperfection broke, is through the belief in what he did on the cross. Jesus paid for the human brokenness that we couldn't pay for ourselves. All he ask in return is to believe him when he said "it is Finished." Believing that it is finished, that our sin has been dealt with moves us to repentance, and supernaturally pardons us changes us.

  • God's Grace is the only place any kind of Freedom can exist.

The realization that you are no longer a slave to your own sin, that you are new through your relationship with Jesus frees you to live the life he has called you to. I have seen people who spent most of their life held down with guilt. Merely existing never living. Guilt is a tool of the devil to keep you from your created position, but the blood of Christ frees you from that. No longer do you have to hide in shame, but rather you have been placed on the mantel for all the world to see.

Application to Life:

  1. Your Sin Isn't Heaver Than Gods Grace

  2. If God can use Jedediah Smith, King David, and Paul he can use You.

  3. Following Him frees you from this Crazy Sinful World

In the epilogue of this book, The author Barton H. Barbour wanted to make sure that history wouldn't paint Jedediah Smith as a minister of the Christian Faith, because he wasn't formal clergy, a ordained missionary, or even a follower of a denomination. I would suggest that that couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, I would suggest that Jedediah is the best type of Christian Minister as he lived a life peeled open for all the world to see. One with all the good and bad, shown at face value, un-smeared with pious BS, yet absolutely dependent on Jesus Christ.

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