In Matthew chapter 16 we read an interesting passage of scripture about confession. This passage talks of Jesus taking his disciples to Caesarea Philippi and asking them to tell Him who they really thought He was. At first glance, we must look at where Jesus is asking them to make a confession. It is not in Jerusalem, in the friendly confines of the temple, where they are surrounded by all of their friends who believe what they believe. This is not a stress-free environment, where one could easily make a radical statement such as Jesus being the Son of God. Rather, Jesus asks them in a region where the exact opposite is true. It was a region known for its practice of idolatry, mythology, immorality, humanism and outright rebellion of Jewish practices. I think this is significant for a couple of reasons. First, Jesus is showing the disciples that they must be concerned with those outside the faith. He takes them to this region to show them that all souls are precious and the world is dependent upon our open confession of Him! He is teaching them that we must go to them and our confession must be that He is Lord! Secondly, we can draw comparisons from the region with the world in which we live. This is important because God is most concerned with what our confession will be in the midst of persecution. Jesus wants to know if we will confess Him as Lord of our lives when it is not convenient or popular. The world will form its own opinions just as they did in this particular passage, but God is concerned more with what our confession will be out in the midst of our society. Jesus wants to know that He is Lord of our lives at our workplaces, schools, shopping centers and restaurants. It is easy to confess Him before the eyes of our fellow worshippers on any given Sunday, but it is an entirely different situation to express it in front of the crowd at Wal-Mart! Remember Luke 12:8-9 states “Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.”
Finally, the most significant thing in this passage is the revelation given to Peter. It was easy for Peter to make the first conclusion that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. It had been prophesied in the law for generations and was widely accepted within the Jewish community. The second part, that of Jesus being the Son of God, was a little more radical. Peter, according to Jesus, was blessed because this component of the confession could only have come from special insight given by God! This teaches us that we must stay in communion with the Father to make sure that our confession aligns with the Word. After all, God has placed us in our Caesarea Philippi and is watching us to see if our confession before men will be that Jesus Christ is Lord of our lives. If we can make this profession, there will be a blessing for us! In the coming weeks and months may we try to let our confession be that Jesus is Lord and maybe we can turn our world upside down like the disciples did in the first century! I believe there is great power in our confession, and who knows, we may just change the hearts, minds and lives of some people in our Caesarea Philippi!
Rev. J.D. Wall is Senior Pastor at Mill Creek Church of God and a member of the Logan Ministerial Association.