If you are like me, you may have thought that you completed the step of confession on your way to the baptistry. However, Scripture paints a bigger picture of confession. Please consider the following examples:
The Woman at the Well confessed (John 4)
Jesus is resting at a well when a woman comes with her jar to draw water. He engages in a conversation with the woman, telling her that he can give her eternal life. He reveals that he knows about her marital situation. Finally, he tells the woman that he is the coming Messiah. What is her response? “So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?’” (John 4:28-29)
This was a town where likely a number of her ex-husbands lived. A town with other women who would look at her with disdain. A town full of people who did not like the Jews. A town full of people who could ridicule her, ignore her, and torment her. She walked right into this town and told them to come see a Jewish man whom she had met at the well. She didn’t care what they might think of her or what their response would be. When confronted with her own sins and the promise of eternal life, the woman boldly confessed to everyone that she believed Jesus to be the Christ.
The Blind Man confessed (John 9)
The Pharisees tried several intimidation tactics to stop the man from confessing. First, they tried to discredit his blindness. They also spread lies about Jesus. They even threatened – and even followed through on this threat – to put the man out of the synagogue. But through all of this harassment, the man who was formerly blind continued to confess his belief in Jesus.
Peter and the Apostles confessed (John 6:66-69 and Acts 4:18-20)
In John 6, after many of Jesus’ disciples had walked away, Jesus turned to his apostles and asked, “Do you want to go away as well?” Peter confesses, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-69) With these words, Peter and the other apostles show they believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
A few months later, “[the rulers of the people, including the high priest] called them [Peter and John] and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.’” (Acts 4:18-20)
Despite facing persecution, Peter and the other apostles confessed to the world that they believed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.
These three examples teach us that confessing is more than just a one-time statement of belief. So, what is confessing? Confessing is telling others that you believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. (You know who these “others” are: your friends and family members who are lost, your confrontational co-worker, your next door neighbor, that lady who always checks your groceries at Wal-Mart.) Confessing is telling others what Jesus did for you, and what he can do for them. Confessing does not stop after you are baptized. That is only the beginning.
But, as with most things in life, knowing what it means to confess is easier than doing it. We see an example of a group of believers who were not willing to confess in John 12:42-43. “Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him [Jesus], but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.”
Why did these people not confess that they believed Jesus to be the Christ? Because they loved the glory of men. Their focus was on what man could do TO them instead of what God had done FOR them. They were not willing to suffer the persecution that would come with their proclamation of belief.
This can be true for us as well. At times, we find ourselves more concerned with what others think of us than what God has done for us. It is easier to stay silent and not risk losing a friend, having an uncomfortable conversation at work, or making a family member mad. While we may not be facing the same physical persecution as these believers in John’s gospel, the fear can still be very real.
Here is another reason that I don’t confess – it feels too hard. I tell myself I need the perfect plan or Bible study, so that I can say the perfect words. I don’t want to mess up my one shot with them. When these emotions swell, I need to remind myself what confessing is. It is telling others what Jesus did for me, and what he can do for them. Let’s look at our examples again.
- The Woman at the well went and told the whole town, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” (John 4:29)
- The blind man told everyone who would hear him, “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” (John 9:25)
- Peter and John stood in front of their persecutors and said, “we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” of what Jesus has done.
I can do that. I can tell others what Jesus has done for me. I used to live in the passions of my flesh and desires of my body. I was dead in my sins. Jesus came to this earth to show me the love of God. He died for my sins. He overcame death and resurrected to live again. Because Jesus lives again, he gives me eternal life. And he will do that for all who believe.
Now, let’s go confess it!