I am going to do something that I will probably never do again. I am going to tell you to do something that I have never told you to do, and will hopefully never say again, and if I do you forget about me. But for today, and for today only, it is completely appropriate.
I want you to do the opposite of what Jesus says.
Matthew 16:20: “Then [Jesus] strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.” I want you to ignore that. And here is why.
Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. And upon the confessing of this Truth is founded the Christian Church and all our hope. That Jesus is the Christ must be confessed, preached, taught, and shared, or else the Church will perish, we will remain in sin, and death will win the day.
“Christ” is not a word that means anything much to us English speakers. It is the Greek version of an Old Testament Hebrew word “Messiah”. They both translate into English as “anointed one”. Messiah—Christ—Anointed One.
“Anointed” means literally that oil was poured on your head. This was an Old Testament way of marking people as set apart for a special task or purpose. Kings, priests, and prophets were all anointed before they began their work.
And what was that work? Prophets declare God’s Word, calling people to repentance and offering hope and consolation in times of great distress. Priests make sacrifices and intercede for the people in prayer. Kings defend the people from the assaults of their enemies. Think David, the anointed king, vs Goliath the enemy who wishes to enslave God’s people.
Jesus, as the Anointed One, as the Christ, Messiah, does all of this to its most extreme limit. He does not simply preach God’s Word as a prophet. He is God’s Word, the living message of who God is and how much He cares for us all.
Jesus does not simply make sacrifices, but He is a living and dying sacrifice for the sins of the people. He does not only pray for us, but He now stands before the throne of God interceding directly to the Father on our behalf. Jesus is our personal advocate before God.
He is a king wearing thorns for a crown and wielding a cross as a weapon. Jesus defeats the ultimate triumvirate of enemies, the unholy trinity of Sin, Death, and the Devil. He dies for you. He rises for you. He is your Savior-King.
Jesus is the Christ. And He is the Christ for you. He is the one anointed to teach and heal, to suffer and pray, to die and rise that we would be set right with God, that we may stand before Him both now and forever knowing that our sins are forgiven and that He has true compassion upon us.
And upon this confession is built the entire foundation and structure of the Church. Our salvation hinges on this not only being true, but being announced, openly declared. People open their mouths and words come out, words about Jesus.
When the words are spoken, when this confession is made, sins are forgiven and you are made righteous. The gates of heaven are unlocked and left wide open for us to enter while the gates of hell and death are overthrown, left impotent and broken.
When this message is silent, when the fire of these words is shut up in our bones, then death has its day, hell reigns supreme, and the Church lies destitute. If Christ is not confessed, then we are all doomed. And that is not an overstatement.
If we have been silent when words were necessary it is time to repent. If we have kept our mouths shut when they should have been wide open, then it is time for the confession of sins. Whether it stems from cowardice or laziness or ignorance does not matter.
Let us repent of our slowness to confess Jesus before others and turn to God in faith, God who is merciful and just, God who reveals this Truth to His disciples. He will forgive, renew, restore. He will open your mouth.
Every person on this planet needs to hear that Jesus is the Christ. He is anointed as their prophet, priest, and king. And that requires opening our mouths. It requires confession.
That is why I want you to ignore those words of Jesus, not to tell anyone. The time was not right before His death and resurrection. It would have been all too easy to misunderstand what this all meant. But now that Christ is risen we do not have that problem. Now is the time to tell.
That is why Pastor Joel Fritsche is frantically learning Spanish and moving his family to the Dominican Republic. It is why OAFC canvasses neighborhoods and practices witnessing in many various methods. It is why we offer a no-tuition Christian education, Sunday school, and worship. People, real people, your neighbors and relatives, need to have Jesus confessed as their Christ, anointed to save them, to forgive their sins just as He forgives yours, to give them the same hope He gives to you.
So spill the beans already. The death and resurrection of Jesus makes us bold before God and man. The Holy Spirit empowers us to open our mouths and confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
You may stare down all the forces of hell with this knowledge. They will not overcome a faith built on this confession.
Therefore let us follow the example of the Apostles, evangelists, and missionaries who came before us and do the opposite of what Jesus says this one time: let us tell everyone that Jesus is the Christ.