Confessions

If you watch the news at all you’ve probably heard a recent story about a young man who gave a stunning confession.  Earlier in the year he had been out drinking one night, driving himself from one bar to the next.  He blacked out at the wheel, drifted into oncoming traffic, and smashed head on into a vehicle carrying an older gentleman.  As oft happens in accidents involving alcohol, the intoxicated offender survived but the sober victim did not.  The district attorney was considering what specific charges to bring but had not yet officially filed them when the young man engaged in a rather unorthodox behavior; he confessed.  The confession was taped and sent out across the World Wide Web.  In his Youtube like presentation he proclaimed that he was guilty, admitted that he had been drunk on the night of the accident, and acknowledged that he was likely giving prosecutors all the information they would need to successfully put him behind bars for a number of years.  With all of this at stake, why did he confess?  He says it’s because he wanted to do what’s right, warning others not to follow in his footsteps and honoring the memory of his victim regardless of the consequence.  More cynical minds came out with articles suggesting that the young man confessed in such a way hoping to get mercy from the judge for his good work or at least throw the monkey wrench of a technicality into the prosecution’s case whereby he could get a mistrial of some sort.  Personally, I don’t pretend to know why he came clean and I certainly pray for all involved in or affected by such a tragedy.  However, the story got me thinking about the reasons for and circumstances surrounding confessions recorded in scripture, not confessions where someone came clean about some sinful behavior, but confessions where people stated what they believed concerning Christ.

The Angled Confession (Mark 1:21-28)…There are some people we know that are as honest as the day is long.  If they told us the sky was purple polka dot, we would believe that the sky had actually somehow turned purple polka dot or at least it must have appeared so.  The thought that they would out and out lie to us would never cross our minds.  Yet there are others we know who are so divorced from the truth that if they told us the sky was blue, their track record of lying would cause us to look outside to make sure it hadn’t somehow turned purple polka dot!  If we checked and the sky was still blue, we’d wonder what the angle was for the habitual liar suddenly telling us the truth!  You see, who says something is just as important as what’s being said…This is illustrated for us in Mark 1:21-28.  The Lord went to a synagogue and while teaching was confronted by a man with an unclean spirit.  The demonic forces asked Jesus if He had come to destroy them and then proclaimed Him to be the holy one of God!  Now, on the surface this would be an amazing confession of Christ’s authority and deity.  But again, any confession is only as good as the person who makes it.  The devil seeks only to steal, kill and destroy; he is a liar and the truth is not in him, he is a murderer at heart who constantly stalks those he may devour.  How Satan thought that his confession of who Christ was could assist his own diabolical plans may not be totally evident, but rest assured nothing but bad intentions comes from the mouth or mind of the enemy of our souls.  Jesus, knowing the nature of the demonic, commanded the devils to be silent, rejecting their words.  He had no need nor desire to have Satan’s confession to validate His identity as the holy one of God.

The Celebrity-Induced Confession (John 1:35-41)…As many of you know, football season is now underway.  I was watching a newscast last week and they did a segment on Peyton Manning.  The famous all-pro quarterback, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts and presently of the Denver Broncos, certainly makes a grand fortune for his services on the field, but picks up just as many dollars for his off the field endeavors advertising everything from Papa John’s Pizza to Oreo Cookies.  Now I don’t need Peyton or anyone else to “pass off” pizza or cookies on me, I know they are good stuff by personal experience.  However, the millions he’s being paid by these companies are evidences they believe that he somehow helps sell their brand.  Apparently, there are people out there who think that just because a celebrity says something, it must be true, and if they are endorsing something it must be good!…John the Baptist was the most famous prophet of his time, called by Jesus the greatest man ever born of woman.  John was not a prophet of miracles, but one who spoke the truth to all, even the powerful, regardless of consequence.  One day John the Baptist saw Jesus walking and declared, “Behold the Lamb of God!”  Two of John’s disciples who heard this endorsement immediately began to follow Jesus.  They didn’t know who Jesus was yet, but the fact that John spoke highly of Him was enough to make them think the Lord was to be followed.  Now in fairness to Andrew, his confession that Jesus was the Messiah (John 1:41) may have initially been “Celebrity-Induced”, but it did become deeper and more personal as he spent more time with Christ and became one of the twelve apostles.  That being said, there are some people who will declare that they believe in Jesus or even say that He is Lord, but they only do so because their parents did or some well known person has or they feel that it’s the thing to do at the time, but their heart isn’t really in it.  Their Christian commitment is either weak or even nonexistent and when a leader they follow falls then their professed faith falters as well, when their parents are nowhere to be found their Christianity is nowhere to be found either, when they see an advantage in not being associated with Jesus their allegiance quickly changes to what they do deem as advantageous.

The Recognition of Power Confession (John 1:47-49; Matthew 14:22-33)…When I was a teenager I worked with my dad at the flea market.  I remember being amazed at how many different kinds of wares were available all under one roof, albeit an outdoor roof.  Yard sale items, fresh produce, sunglasses, old books, new books, old shoes, new shoes, old cars, new cars, tv’s, handbags, seashells, haircuts, perms, fried foods of all varieties, air conditioning systems; you name it, they had it.  I thought I had seen it all until one weekend a psychic booth opened up.  I couldn’t believe that such a place could stay in business cause they don’t give flea market space out for free (and they had the extra expense of having a closed in booth with air conditioning); but then again there’s no shortage of fortune telling 900 numbers and I’m sure those lines aren’t given out for free either.  I guess I shouldn’t have been taken by surprise that people would pay money for such things.  The Bible and all of human history are replete with examples of people being impressed by anyone claiming supernatural knowledge or exhibiting superhuman power whether that display be real or imagined…In John 1:47-49 Nathanael confesses that Jesus is the Son of God after the Lord supernaturally says that He had seen the disciple-to-be under a fig tree prior to their meeting.  In Matthew 14:22-33 the disciples witness Jesus walking upon a stormy sea, allowing Peter to do the same, and then calming the wind and the waves with the mere power of His word.  This leads to them all declaring that Jesus must be God’s Son…Now the men in the boat, with the exception of Judas, would go on to have deep, genuine, abiding faith in Christ.  However, there are many people who go after the supernatural, who are impressed by any display of power, and most of them end up with spiritually shallow lives.  They will confess the greatness of the last great thing until the next great thing comes up and captures their attention.

The Last Resort Confession (John 6:67-69)…John chapter 6 is one of my favorite chapters in Scripture.  It opens with Jesus performing signs and wonders and drawing crowds of thousands.  The Lord sees how many people are there and takes up a triple-favor-seed-faith-offering promising twice the power of God they had just seen within 24 ½ days if they gave their gift in the next 12 ¼ minutes!  Just kidding, Jesus didn’t do that back in the Bible days, and He’s not doing that now either!  The Lord saw the crowds of people and wanted to feed them.  By the genuine power of God He multiplied 5 loaves and 2 fishes, feeding 5,000 people all they wanted and having 12 baskets full of leftovers.  Later on in the chapter Jesus uses this natural miracle as a segue to speak of the spiritual truth that He is the true bread that has come down from heaven and that those who seek spiritual life must drink of His blood and eat of His flesh.  This was a hard saying that left Christ, who was just a short while earlier surrounded by thousands, with a group of only 12, and one of those was a devil.  Far from shrinking from the truth He had just proclaimed to win back previous followers, Jesus turns to the 12 and asks them if they want to leave Him too.  Peter, ever the bold, confesses that they will stay for Jesus alone has the words of eternal life and is the Holy One of God.  Now, in all fairness to Peter, he was likely sincere in what he was saying at the moment and he certainly came to a genuine relationship with Christ.  However, there are some preachers who seem to present Jesus as the offer of last resort.  “If you’ve tried everything else and it has failed you, then give Christ a shot.  What have you got to lose?”  While there might be some validity to this approach, I think we are better served and Scripture better represented when we declare that Jesus is the only way and that He commands for men everywhere to repent of sin and put faith in Him.  If Jesus is only the last shot to help make our lives better, then who knows, maybe we’ll look for another last resort after this last resort.  Jesus is Lord!  He is the only One who can save us from the hell our works so justly deserve.

The God-Given, Rock Solid Confession (Matthew 16:13-20)…By this time in Jesus’ ministry He was well known by the public for His miracles and for His teachings.  Some loved Him, some hated Him, some followed out of sincerity, some followed for ulterior motives.  In Matthew 16 the Lord comes to His disciples and asks them what men are saying about Him.  They give Him the scuttlebutt, the latest word on the street.  After the opinions floating around are expressed, Jesus looks them in the eye and asks them directly, “but who do you say that I am?!”  Peter famously responds with the confession that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  The Lord commends Peter declaring that the fishermen is truly blessed because nothing fleshly or worldly has been responsible for this revelation, but the Heavenly Father has graciously opened his eyes to receive and believe and confess.  This divine revelation is indeed the rock upon which Jesus will build His unstoppable church.  If we want to have a good confession that will stand the test of time, then we must lean upon the sure strength of God and His Word, not upon any feeble, fleeting , faulty foundation of the flesh!  If we want others lead to the good confession of Christ then we must be a people who both individually and corporately rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit and the truth of the Holy Scriptures rather than upon any contrived convention from the corridors of the carnal minds of men.