“Who do you say that I am?” Jesus asked Peter.
His response was immediate. Direct. Unequivocal. And divinely inspired. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matt 16:15-16)
It is a question still discussed, debated and deliberated today. Who was Jesus?
Many want to reduce Jesus to just a great Rabbi, a unique prophet, or moral reformer. In fact, it is not politically correct to say that Jesus was the Son of God or that He is the only way.”
In her television series on Belief several years ago, Oprah Winfrey opined that “there are many ways people can connect with God.” On another occasion when the issue of Jesus being the only way to God was being debated, Oprah asserted: “Jesus can’t possibly be the only way to God.” This is the attitude of many in the religious world today.
This view reminds me of a famous quote by C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.”
“That is the one thing we must not say,” Lewis wrote, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell.”
“You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call Him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Peter’s confession and Jesus acceptance of His Deity was the basis on which Jesus said he would build His church. Jesus’ Divinity is the bedrock of Christianity. The foundation of our faith. The realization of a right relationship with God. The assurance of the forgiveness of our sins. And the basis of our heavenly hope.
Prior to one being baptized into Christ, we take the candidate’s confession. Like Philip asked the Ethiopian Treasurer of old we ask, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?” (Ax 8:37-38). While that is appropriate, confession is not a ritual. It’s not a one-time thing. It is more. Much more.
Jesus said, “Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven” (Matt 10:32).
Confession literally means “to speak the same thing.” To confess Christ is to admit who He is. To agree with Him. And to be in accord with His commandments. It is a description of our devotion. It is a declaration of loyalty. And an affirmation of our allegiance. Confession is something that we continually do throughout our lives as we proclaim our faith.
Furthermore, there can be no middle ground. A failure to confess Christ is to deny Him. And Jesus said that will result in Him denying us before the Father (Matt. 10:33).
We may fail to confess Christ with our words. Like Peter, when pressed, we may outright deny Him saying, “I know not the man.” But some are more like J. P. Mahaffy, the famous Trinity College scholar in Dublin, when he was asked if he was a Christian, responded, “Yes, but not offensively so.” In other words, he wouldn’t allow Christ or his Christianity to interfere with his worldly pleasures.
We may fail to confess Christ by our silence. In our daily interactions with others at work, school and in our social circle, there are ample opportunities to confess our faith and let them know who we are and what we stand for. Yet, the desire for acceptance or the fear of ridicule may curb our willingness to confess Christ.
We may fail to confess Christ by our actions. We don’t outright deny Him. But by living a lifestyle that is carnal, sensual and worldly, we are in essence denying our profession of faith. What does our language, our dress, and our choices of entertainment say about our confession? It is true that actions often speak louder than words. Or as author Rashida Costa expressed it, “Words are from the lips, actions are from the heart.”
Jesus is the author of our salvation. The rock in whom we find refuge. And our hope for eternal rest and peace. “Let us hold fast to our confession” (Heb. 4:14).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman