Summary: One of the most basic confessions in the life of a Christian is the confession about Jesus. 3 confessions in the NT teach us what it means in our lives to confess Jesus.
INTRODUCTION...Innocent Prisoner, Today in the Word, December 4, 1992
There is the old story of a king who was once touring a prison. The prisoners fell on their knees before him to proclaim their innocence—except for one man, who remained silent. Inmate after inmate fell down and proclaimed their innocence except for one man. The king called to him, “Why are you here?” “Armed robbery, Your Majesty,” was the reply. “And are you guilty?” “Yes indeed, Your Majesty, I deserve my punishment.” The king then summoned the jailer and ordered him, “Release this guilty wretch at once. I will not have him kept in this prison where he will corrupt all the fine innocent people who occupy it.”
They say that confession is good for the soul. One of the most basic confessions in the life of a Christian is the confession one makes about Jesus. For the Christian, the confession is the door through which one walks to get into the room where God is. There is of course much more to it than that, but the confession we make as a Christian is the beginning. The Apostle Paul is definitely thinking about his in Romans 10:9 when he writes, “That if you confess with your mouth, ’Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Paul goes on to state that obedience to God will follow for the one who trusts in God.
I want us to think about confession today and what we mean when we say: ’I believe that Jesus is the Son of God.’ To do that, I would like to take a look at the confessions of three of Jesus’ disciples. Each of them confess something about Jesus that must be part of our meaning when we ’confess Jesus.’
I. PETER’S CONFESSING IN MATTHEW 16:13-16
READ MATTHEW 16:13-16
The confession of Peter that we just read is perhaps the most famous confession in Scripture. It is the one that we lead a new believer to confess when they come to faith for the first time. This confession of Peter did not happen in a vacuum. Jesus had been dealing with increasing opposition from the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Who were those people? Basically, they were the religious leaders and teachers of the day. They were pressuring Jesus with questions to try and trap Him and we demanding that He give them signs to declare who He really was. They were out to get Him. It was in the midst of this pressure that Jesus gets together with His disciples and asks them a few personal questions. Jesus first asks who the crowds of people think He is. He wants to know the gossip and the scuttle butt about who the people were thinking He might be. The disciples inform Him of the several possibilities that were floating around about His identity. Then He asks the question to end all questions, “Who do you say that I am?” (verse 15).
It is Simon Peter who answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (verse 16). Peter confesses two things that were extremely important then and are equally important today for us. Peter first confesses that Jesus is the ’Christ.’
* Jesus was the One promised in Genesis 3:15 who will crush the head of Satan.
* Jesus was the One promised to Abraham in Genesis 12:3 who would bless all nations.
* Jesus was to be the eternal priest for believers as promised in Psalm 110:4.
* Jesus is the One that was promised by God to make all things new in many other prophecies.
You see, by confessing that Jesus was the ’Christ,’ Peter is acknowledging that Jesus fulfills the prophecies about the Messiah in the Old Testament. He is the One that has been waited for... the deliverer. Peter’s confession means that He believes that God has kept all of His promises and they are embodied in the person of Jesus Christ.
The second thing that Peter confesses, and we will see this common thread in all of the confessions we look at, that Jesus is God. Not only is Jesus the Promised One, but He also is God.
II. NATHANAEL’S CONFESSION IN JOHN 1:47-49
READ JOHN 1:47-49
Nathanael (or Bartholomew) is one of those disciples that we really know nothing about. The unofficial traditions of the church, not Scripture, have Nathanael preaching in India and later was killed in Armenia by the royal family for having converted the King of Armenia (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02313c.htm). All of that is of course unknown to us. What do we know about this person? We know what the Bible tells us. We know that when Philip introduces Nathanael to Jesus that He has nothing but good things to say about him. He is a true Israelite and someone with great integrity. Nathanael is not sure how Jesus knows him and Jesus describes a divine vision that he had of Nathanael before they met. Nathanael is obviously astonished that Jesus could have ’seen’ him under the fig tree even though He was no where around. What does Nathanael declare? What does Nathanael confess?