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Confession of Saint Peter

Mark 8:27-35

Rev. Andrew Eckert

Wednesday after the Second Second after the Epiphany
Our Savior Lutheran Church  
Stevensville, MT

Wed, Jan 20, 2016 

Here we have the bold confession of Saint Peter.  He does not deny.  He does not beat around the bush.  He does not say that this is only his opinion.  He says in no uncertain terms, “You are the Christ.”

We want to boldly confess Christ before men.  We look at Peter’s example, and we wish that we were that courageous.

Perhaps we should note here that Peter’s confession was in front of the other disciples and Jesus.  Perhaps the other disciples included the wider group of men and women who followed along in addition to the Twelve.  But either way, this was not exactly a heroic confession before the crowds.  That would wait for Pentecost.

But even here in the Holy Gospel, Peter is not holding back.  Sometimes those who call themselves believers can be as resistant to the true confession as unbelievers.  We know that at least one of them was a traitor in his heart.  Peter perhaps did not know how his confession would be received.  Should he hesitate and think things over for a while?  Should he determine how his words would be received?

No!  Peter leaps in, giving a firm and faithful answer to Christ’s question.  “Who are you?  You are the Christ.”

How could he be so bold?  How can we be bold like that?

Here we might talk about how impetuous Peter was.  Certainly, he strikes us as an impulsive man.  Thoughts pop into his head, and hardly a moment passes before they pass out of his lips.  Think about it?  Why waste time?  Just say it.

But that is not the whole truth.  It is not even the most important truth.  Peter confessed because it was revealed to him.  Peter spoke because the Father in heaven opened his mind to understand, and then opened his lips to show forth the praise of God.

Peter spoke up because the Lord prompted him.  The confession of the truth is not from man at all.  It resides in men who are faithful, but it is not from their minds or hearts or experience. 

Mark omits the words spoken in Saint Matthew’s Gospel regarding Peter and the Rock upon which Christ builds His Church.  It is helpful to mention here that Peter is not the Rock.  The Rock is the confession of the true faith that was on his lips, put there by God.  Peter only faithfully spoke what was given him to speak.

This is helpful because we should not think something like this: “Well, that was Peter, and he was an amazing saint!  I cannot confess boldly like that.”

But you have the same faith.  You have the same words given to you.  You do not have to be amazing to speak the truth.  Peter was rebuked not two minutes later when he got things wrong.  He was called satan because he was setting his mind on the things of men, instead of the things of God.  So it is not Peter’s greatness that we see in his confession.  Not much greatness was in that sinner.  But the confession is great, and you have the same confession to speak.

Only get the confession right.  Peter fumbled it on his second try.  He thought he knew what God’s plan was, and it CERTAINLY was not suffering and cross.  That made no sense to him.  But what made sense to him was wrong.  Suffering and cross were precisely the plan of God.

So be ready to confess the same truth.  Jesus is God’s Christ, which means that He is the One who was chosen to suffer and die for sinful mankind, and not only that, but rise on the third day.  This is not complicated or difficult.  You do not need a PhD in theology to say it.

In fact, you just spoke these words in the Nicene Creed a few moments ago.  You were speaking the things God gave you to say.  You were doing exactly what Peter did.

“Well, that’s not impressive enough,” we want to say.  “It would really mean something if we could make a great, big proclamation in front of crowds of people, like on Pentecost.”

But God seldom calls upon us to do that.  Perhaps you will have that opportunity, more likely not.

Perhaps God will give you an opportunity to confess Christ to a few unbelieving friends.  Perhaps a family member needs to hear the truth that Jesus is the Christ who died and rose for them.

Be ready to confess.  How do you get ready?  By listening to the instruction of Jesus.  Peter was taught by the Lord for years before this moment.  The Lord wants to teach you, as well.  Will you listen?  Will you humbly receive His Word, even though it is spoken by some guy who is not all that impressive?  Even if you sit yourself down in front of this unimpressive guy, do you listen carefully to the Word, or not?

Peter was able to confess because he had been taught by God.  You be taught by God, and He will make you ready to speak the truth when an opportunity comes.  That is, quite simply, how it works.

As you listen and learn, He strengthens you in faith.  He renews you by giving you forgiveness in His Gospel.  You are reminded of the great price Christ paid, that He did not try to save His life, but He gave it up for you.  He denied Himself so that you will never be denied before Christ and His Father and the holy angels.

In the end, what makes you feel safe to confess before others is that you know that Christ has made you safe.  He has taken care of you by His suffering, death, and resurrection.  Men cannot take that away, nor satan.  Christ has declared you innocent in His Blood.  Who can overrule Christ?  He has saved your life by the overwhelmingly precious ransom of His life.  Who can take that away?

But do not let yourself turn back to unbelief and error.  Do not deny the cross, as Peter did, and was rebuked; nor betray Christ, as Judas did, although he received the same instruction as Peter.  If we despise and treat as nothing the truth that the Father reveals to us, then He will not tolerate our cold indifference forever.  If we are ashamed of Him, then He will be ashamed of us at the Judgment.

Therefore, hold faithfully to this teaching.  Love this Gospel and this Christ, not just in the emotions of your heart, which are fickle, but also by coming to His Word where He teaches it.  Be faithful to the confession of Christ that is spoken here, so that the confession may also be upon your lips, not only now, but to all eternity.

In the Name of the Christ of God, Jesus our dear Lord.  Amen.

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