Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God, our Father,
and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the text for this morning
comes from the Gospel reading and the first reading from the books of Acts.
This morning is a fantastic celebration, because this
morning we get to witness and participate in bringing new members into the
communion of this altar confessing the same truths and faith. That’s exciting.
And that is a part of every confirmation, whether it’s youth or adults, to see
that Christian, whether young or old, make the public confession to you, his or
her fellow members of the communion of saints, the one holy Christian church,
to say that, “Yes, amen. I agree with what you are saying.” That’s exciting.
But Pastor and I both would be remiss in our teaching of
your children and of our adults if we didn’t also add the rest of the story of
being a confessor of Christ, the Messiah. Your experience as a baptized child
of God is just as a new confirmand’s experience as a baptized child of God,
too. You have this teaching that’s been proclaimed to you about your salvation,
forgiveness of sins being given unto you and offered to you freely and fully
for you to strengthen your faith and to cling to it every moment. And it is as
if life is joyful.
But then there are those post-confirmation stress disorders
that occur to all confirmands, whether youth or adult, that all of a sudden
this faith that has gotten you so excited and proclaimed to you, then you meet
your first major difficulty in your life, and your faith goes, Wait a
second. Yeah, how do we deal with this? This is big.
That’s the rest of the story. You see, Peter confessed
Christ plainly and succinctly. You heard and it was read, Jesus asked His
disciples, “Okay, out there on the street, what are you hearing about me? What
are you hearing about me? Who do people say that I am?”
So, they proclaimed to Him back. “Well, some say that
you’re this, and some say that you’re that, and some say this.” That’s grand.
It is as if Jesus was saying, “Who cares what everybody else
says. I want to know what you….my chosen apostles and believers….what do you
say about me? Who am I?”
Peter in his bold and brazen confession says, “You’re the
Messiah.” Now, that’s where English and this Greek word kind of pull us away
from the Hebrewness of the term “Anointed One,” or “the Messiah.”
We translate from the Greek “Christos.” The Greek translates
from the Hebrew “Anointed One” or “Messiah.” So we tend to think of “Christ”
as almost Jesus’ last name, unfortunately, and it’s not. It’s a title, a very
important title as to who He is. He’s the Messiah, the one about whom it has
been written throughout the entire Old Testament. Beginning with Genesis 3:15
when our Lord proclaimed to Adam and Eve, “The offspring of the woman shall
crush the head of Satan. I’m going to fix the problem. I’m going to fix the
problem of your sin with my Anointed One, the offspring of the woman, who will
do to your enemy and your sin what I proclaim, crushing it, killing it, putting
it to death, and renting it asunder.”
So, when Peter says, “Well, you’re the Messiah,” He just
said, “You’re right. You got that right. Now that you have confessed that I am
the Messiah, let Me tell you more about what it means that I am your Messiah,
your Anointed One, to fulfill your salvation.”
So, He began to teach them, as He said. That does not mean
that Jesus said, “Okay, here’s point A, here’s point B, here’s point C. That’s
it.” He taught them about these concepts, this text says. He taught them that
the Son of Man must suffer many things. He didn’t just say, “I’m going to
suffer many things.” He told them and taught them from Scripture He had to
suffer many things. He then said He would be rejected by the elders and the
chief priests and the scribes. That’s a huge statement. He’s saying, “All of the
religious people whom you look up to, whom you value their opinion about God,
they’re going to reject Me.”
He didn’t just say that sentence. He explained to them from
the Scriptures how their point of view about Him and how Scripture’s point of
view about Him were at odds one with the other and that they would reject Him.
He said He would be killed.
Why would there need to be a death? Probably taking them
from Genesis 3:15 and throughout other Old Testament passages did He remind
them that there had to be a sacrifice for the sins of the people and your sins
as well. But the good news? The third day He shall rise again, and again
quoting Old Testament passages about the three days, especially a certain
prophet named Jonah who was in the belly of the while for three days….it was a
big fish, excuse me….the belly of the big fish for three days and came out of
it, His own little resurrection illustration for Christ.
So He taught them these things. Check out Isaiah chapter 53
in your free time at home. It is so full of conversation about these very
things—death, rejection, spurning, mocking, all those insulted injuries in
order to proclaim freedom to the captives, liberty to those who are enslaved,
to bind up the brokenhearted and all that goes along with Christ’s rejection,
death, and resurrection.
Everybody’s going, “Yeah, that’s right, I heard those things
before.” So having said that, Peter then says, “Well, wait a second, timeout.
That’s not supposed to happen. You’re the Messiah.”
“Yes, but what it means to the world, and more importantly,
Peter, what it means to you and these eleven other apostles, is that confessing
me as the Messiah means more than just confessing me as the Messiah. That’s the
beginning of faith.”
But your faith is going to run headlong into the
incongruities in this world and the things that do challenge your and my faith
and will then lead you to say, Is what I am believing true? That’s post-confirmation
stress syndrome. That is that time when you begin to realize, Is really what
I’m thinking and believing to be true, true?
I’ve had several adult confirmands come to me after
confirmation and say, “Pastor, when I was going through the class and learning
all these great things about God and everything, it seems that my life was
going so smoothly. It’s like all of a sudden I was firing on all eight cylinders
and things were going so wonderfully. But then, after I was confirmed and
after I’ve been in the church for a while, it seemed like everything went to
pot. Struggle in my marriage, struggle at work, difficulties with my family,
even having difficulties with some of the people within the church. What’s
going on, God”….or “Pastor?” You’re right. That’s the rest of the story.
To confess Jesus as your Lord and Savior, as your Messiah,
is saving faith. If that’s all it was, what was the purpose of Jesus building
upon that confession of Peter and explaining it more fully? His purpose was to
prepare Peter and the other eleven for all that their faith would come into
contact that would say, “You don’t believe correctly. This isn’t right.” How
are you going to deal with this? You say you are a Christian. No different than
you and me.
This is a fulfillment of that little saying that you’ve heard:
A little knowledge is dangerous. It is to describe something such as this.
There’s a great deal of interest in spiritual matters in this world.
Absolutely without a doubt there is. What is it those spiritual matters are
pertaining unto is a totally different subject matter.
So it feels spiritual, it looks spiritual, it sounds
spiritual, and even it is the basic confession of the faith. Is that all that
there is? Is that all that is necessary?
Well, yes, but it is not what your faith is designed to be
in that status of simple confession of faith, or God would have said, “Okay,
great, you’re a believer? I’m taking you home today.” That means that all
these confirmands are dying today and all the kids in May are going to die
right after that. Or why don’t we go back to their baptism?
If God was only bidding them to believe and then that’s
it….that’s their whole purpose in this world….then God would take everybody
home who believed the moment they believed. Why put them through the drudgery
of this world?
But the reason He put you in this world and in your families
and in the workplaces that He has appointed you to be is for your faith to rub
off and intermingle with those who do not believe or who are unsure about their
faith. What does it mean to be yoked with Christ, to confess Him as the
Well, you can only imagine in your mind’s eye is if you look
back to your wedding day. On your wedding day when you say the most handsome
man in the world and the most beautiful woman adorned sitting or standing
before you, holding her hands or his hands, and you said, Yeah, this is it.
This is for me. I am for you. This is it.
And then all of a sudden that marriage comes into contact
with sin, Oh, wait a second, it is sinful because both husband and wife are
sinners. There’s going to be a contact with another sinner, and that contact
with that sinner is in the most intimate of things. Every aspect of your life
is being seen by that sinner. And that sinner because they’re a sinner and because
you’re a sinner are quick to point out to the other sinner what their sin
is….the old plank in the eye and the speck in the eye thing. It goes on and on
What, then, does it mean to be joined to that person? Two
things. One, I get everything that’s good about her or him. Thumbs up on that
one. We’re good to go there. The other side of the story is that I also get
everything that drives me insane about that person. When you’re married to
someone, you get everything, the good and the bad, the blessing and the bane,
the things that you cherish and the things that drive you away. That’s what it
means to be yoked to someone.
And of all the relationships in this world that Jesus used
to describe His relationship with you, it’s described not in a personal
relationship with Jesus; it’s described as a marriage. The marriage is Him, the
groom; us the bride. And it’s not a 50-50 proposition where you get the good….He
gets the good from us and we get the good from Him. That would be a
tit-for-tat; it’s not that.
It’s we who are ugly, we who are unholy, we who are the
epitome of a prostitute who has gone awhoring after other gods, including
Satan, are being taken and received by the Holy One whose righteousness covers
us and adorns us with the most beautiful white garment of virginity. His love
and His marriage to you adorns you with that holy white garment of virginity
His goodness, kindness, mercy, and Messiahship, Anointed
One, anoints you as His chosen. “This is my beloved son or daughter. With you,
my bride, I am well pleased,” He says.
But being joined to Him means just as He suffered, just as
He was rejected, just as He even died for His proclamation, the faith, so you
being joined to Him as His bride bear the same thing, just like you bear the
things of being married to your spouse. Whether you grow old with them or
whether they are taken from you at a young age, whether you’ve been married
before or not, your Lord will never leave you or abandon you. Your Lord will
never turn His back upon you and the ugliness of your and my sin.
Though we may reject Him, though we may get tired of Him, though
we may not want to be yoked with Him because of what our life has to be thrust
into, being one of His children, He will never abandon you, change the rules
halfway down the pike, or do anything to you or with you that is not out of His
great redeeming love, because you bear His name.
Now, remember. He is called the Messiah, the Anointed One.
You who bear His name, Christ, are one of the Anointed One’s ones. It’s about
as good as it’s going to get in a literal translation. “Christian” means one of
the Anointed One’s ones. You’re one of the Anointed One’s ones. You’re one of
those who have been anointed by the Anointed One, what is His is yours
because you’re married to Him. His anointing….His setting apart….of being set
apart from this world and all that is a part of this world is yours, claiming
you and never forsaking you.
But that kind of a relationship is fraught with some
incongruities because your faith will come up against something that says,
“Wait a second. Why do I have to go through this?”
“Because you’re my child.”
“I don’t like doing that because I’m your child.” How many
times did you say to your mom and dad, “Why can’t you handle me the way
so-and-so’s parents handle her (or him)? They allow her (or him) to do that or
to say that or to go there (or what have you).” That’s part of the suffering
for bearing the name of one of the Anointed One’s ones. And it’s not fun.
That’s what I meant by the rest of the story is that, yes, your faith is as
simple as that confession. But that confession….Satan wishes to rip it out of
what is in you. He wishes to rip this wedding band from your finger….in a
spiritual sense because you’re married to Christ….and move you to divorce
Christ because of all that goes along with being joined to Christ. That’s why Peter
took Jesus aside after Jesus had said all these things about what this meant to
be the Messiah, and he goes, “No, no, no, no, Lord. You cannot be rejected. You
cannot suffer. And who needs to die? That’s crazy.”
No, that’s the things of God, not the things of man. And
isn’t it interesting that when Jesus rebuffs Peter….rebukes him…. Jesus does
not say to Peter, “Peter, that’s of the old Adam. Get behind me. Peter, that is
of the flesh. Get behind me.” He says that, but He says it in a much more….sharper
way. “That is of Satan. That’s not right.”
Why get so bent out of shape, God? That’s just seeming to be
a minor incongruity. If your faith will carry you through the pains that your
sin are going to inflict upon you, if your faith is going to carry you through….through
this….pains of the sins that have been foisted upon you by others, your faith
has to stand on sure and certain bedrock, not schmaltzy sand. The things of God
are these things, but they’re the only things that have merit, worth, and value
and will keep you in the one true faith. But being married to Jesus is joyful
at many times, challenging at others, but it’s a part of being married to
Just like in an earthly marriage, no one is going to point
out your sin more clearly or more fully, whether you want to or not, but your
spouse. Jesus, who is married to you, points out your and my sin, which is
uncomfortable, and I don’t like it. It causes me great discomfort, but you know
what? It leads me back to repentance and back to the arms of a loving Husband
who will never reject His bride, which is you.
Gentlemen, for all of our times when we have rejected and
have not honored, His honoring and not rejecting covers it. You ladies who
have been rejected and spurned by a man, this is your opportunity again to be
healed just as we men need to be healed. Part of being married to the true Groom
as His bride, that’s good news.
Finally, it was Peter himself who wrote in one of his two
epistles….the second epistle you heard Pastor read a portion of, this is from
his first epistle. Peter, who knew what it meant to confess Christ and knew
also what it meant to hear the cock crow and remember, “The very thing I said I
would never do, I did it. I denied Him.”
He knows sin, his own sin, but he also drank deep from the
wells of forgiveness, which humbled him greatly. He said in the fourth chapter,
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial that comes upon you to test
you as though something strange were happening to you, but rejoice insofar as
you share Christ’s sufferings, the Anointed One’s sufferings, the Messiah’s
sufferings, that you may rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed in the
little snippets of glory right here and in the ultimate revelation of glory
upon your entrance into Heaven.
If you are insulted for the name of the Messiah, you’re
blessed, because the Spirit of Glory and the Spirit of God rests upon you as
one of the Anointed One’s ones. Let none of you suffer as a murderer, thief,
evildoer, or meddler. That’s getting the just punishment for the wrong deed.
That’s normal. He’s talking about suffering in this life because you are doing
the right thing. You’re living out the faith. You are proclaiming Christ’s
forgiveness. If anyone suffers as one of the Anointed One’s ones, as a
Christian, let him not be ashamed but let him glorify God in that name, one of
the Anointed One’s ones, in the name of Christ, for it’s time for judgment to
begin at the household of God, and if it begins with us, what will be the
outcome for those who do not obey the Gospel of God?
Therefore, let those who suffer according to God’s will
entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. It is your soul
that matters, not your pride, not your reputation, not your body, but your
soul. That is all we have is to entrust ourselves into such a loving Creator
who has wed Himself and bound Himself to us, who will never refuse us, nor deny
us nor walk away from us and abandon us, but cling unto us and keep us as His
In the name of the Anointed One, the Christ, Jesus, Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your
hearts and your minds on Christ Jesus unto life everlasting.