Summary: We are Jesus’ representatives to the world. Do we make a good confession? Or a false impression?
Mark 8: 27-35 Pentecost 17
Rev. Charles Degner September 14, 1997
How often have you prayed the words of the Lord’s Prayer, “Hallowed be thy name?” But do you know what those words mean? Luther’s explanation in his catechism is excellent. What does this mean? God’s name is certainly holy by itself, but we pray in this petition that we too may keep it holy. How is God’s name kept holy? God’s name is kept holy when his Word is taught in its truth and purity and we as children of God lead holy lives according to it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But whoever teaches and lives contrary to God’s Word dishonors God’s name among us. Keep us from doing this, dear Father in heaven!
Maybe an illustration will help us understand our responsibility to keep God’s name holy. Imagine that God is a president of the world’s most successful business. You’ve heard that he is really a nice man, and you want to do business with him. You make an appointment to see him at his office. Hundreds of people are coming and going, and yet He has given you time on his busy schedule. You can’t wait to meet him. You enter into his office complex and are greeted by his secretary. “What do YOU want?” she says. You wonder if you’re in the right place. The secretary looks at her book and says, “I suppose you’re Mr. So-and-So. Sit down and take a seat. You people come parading in here as if the boss has all the time in the world. Don’t you know he has more important things to do?” You says “Excuse me, I must have the wrong place.” And you leave.
Do you get the picture? The boss might be the nicest man in the whole world. But if his receptionist is crabby and misrepresents her boss, most people will get the wrong first impression and leave. We are God’s receptionists. People don’t discover God by themselves. They find out about God and our Savior Jesus through someone else. They find out about God and our Savior Jesus through YOU and ME. Oh that we give people a good first impression of our God and Savior and speak only the truth about our Lord! Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven. God forbid that we do not speak the truth about God. God forbid that our actions might offend people and turn them away from God! Keep us from doing this, dear Father in heaven!
In our text today, we will see ourselves in one of Jesus’ disciples. We will see Peter make a marvelous confession of faith, and we will see him say something awful. Our prayer today as we consider how Jesus would use us to be his witnesses to the world is this.
LORD, USE MY MOUTH!
I. Help me to make a good confession of my faith in you
With all the miracles that Jesus did, and with all the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled in his life and ministry, and with all that Jesus taught, a lot of people just didn’t get it! Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, "Who do people say I am?" 28 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." John the Baptist had been beheaded by Herod by this time. The people had accepted John as a prophet sent from God. They believed Jesus to be something greater than John was - a prophet who had come back from the grave, some kind of a super-prophet, if you will.
But the popular opinions about Jesus fell short of the truth. They didn’t say he was the Son of God. They didn’t say he was the long awaited Messiah. They didn’t say that he was the Savior of the world. No doubt it upset Jesus that he was so misunderstood.
Friends, the popular opinions of the people in the world today are very similar. If you ask people who Jesus is, many will say he was a great religious teacher. He started one of the great religions of the world. Someone will compare him to other famous religious teachers, like Moses, or Confucius, or Gandhi, or someone else. I am sure that it upsets Jesus today that so many still do not understand who he is.
What did Jesus disciples believe about him? He asked the question. “Who do YOU say that I am?” The answer was quickly, confidently given. Peter said, "You are the Christ." 30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. Matthew tells the story a little more completely. Matthew 16:16-18 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Peter had it right. Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, the promised Savior. And Jesus was the Son of the living God, and therefore also true God himself. How did Peter know this when others got it wrong? Because the Father in heaven had revealed it to him. Peter heard Jesus speak God’s Word. He listened to him open the Scriptures. He saw the miracles which fulfilled the prophecies. And through the Holy Spirit, Peter believed!