This sermon was preached at Red Rocks Baptist Church (14711 W. Morrison Rd. Morrison, CO 80465) on August 26, 2012 by Pastor Les Heinze. These notes are provided as a recap and for further study into the message from God’s Word.
WHAT IT MEANS TO CONFESS CHRIST
When we use the word confession in casual conversation, it usually has a negative flavor. It can mean we are being reluctantly self-revealing, or more commonly in a legal context, to admit to wrong-doing.
The New Testament use of confess simply means to assent or acknowledge something. The Greek word literally means “to say the same thing”, in other words, to tell the truth. The word itself isn’t used in the passage, however the idea is prominent. Let’s see how that fits with this supremely important incident recorded by Mark.
The first section speaks to the confession of the disciples. Peter speaks for the group when he openly acknowledges (confesses) the person of Jesus Christ. He is telling the truth about who Jesus is. Jesus had already claimed to be the Son of God. Now the disciples are agreeing with him. The first step in becoming a true disciple is an accurate, biblical view of who Jesus is. Early in an individual’s relationship with Christ they probably will not have an appreciation for all that entails, but the basic affirmation is essential.
Then Mark goes on to help us appreciate what follows by telling us the definition of a disciple. Beyond the basic understanding of Jesus’ divine being, other essential elements come out. Those begin by noting that one only becomes a disciple by a decision of the will. This decision is not capricious nor does it have a decided emotional basis. It is a deliberative act. People don’t fall into discipleship. Secondarily, if you are going to be a committed disciple (there is no such thing as a casual one), you make the commitment to follow him by taking up your cross, as he did his. This doesn’t necessarily imply you will die on a cross as he did. It does mean that, because of your relationship to Christ, you open yourself up to hardships, trials, and persecutions. Do not be surprised when they happen.
The third step in defining a disciple is to have a decidely external focus. This goes hand in glove with expecting the hard times. Being a disciple isn’t about you, it is about Christ and what he wants to do through you in ministering to his other disciples and a needy world. John 12:42 paints a picture of another group of contemporaries of the disciples who hedged when it came to being disciples. Some religious leaders were willing to believe on Jesus but they opted out of openly confessing him because they shrank back from others would think. A fear they had was being excluded from the synagogue. They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
Is something similar holding you back from being a committed disciple? Satan promises you glory (men’s approval) now, but in the end you will receive suffering. God promises you suffering now, but in end that suffering is transformed into glory. Is that such a difficult choice to make?