“Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14 They said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But you, who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13-16 – EHV)
If someone came up to you and asked you who Jesus was, how would you answer? It is easy to know Jesus, but it is often times much more difficult to confess clearly who Jesus is. Jesus presented this question to his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” We can see from Jesus’ question that there were a lot of wrong confessions about Jesus going around at the time of the disciples. Some people thought Jesus was John the Baptist come back from the dead, because John’s and Jesus’ message were similar. They both spoke with power and authority. Others thought Jesus might be, “Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” These were some of God’s greatest Old Testament prophets and God must have brought one of them back to life. All of those confessions about Jesus were flattering and respectful, but every one failed to confess Jesus clearly.
Things didn’t get any easier for Jesus’ followers after he ascended into heaven, and the Christian Church on earth began. By 300 AD there were so many false confessions about Christ that believers called a special meeting at a city called Nicea. In order to confess Christ clearly, over and against all the false confessions, the Church developed the Nicene Creed which clearly confesses Christ, who he is and what he does. You know it well today.
Things really are not really any better for us Christians living today either, are they? We still live in a world that is filled with many false confessions about Jesus. Some say Jesus was just a good man and a great religious philosopher, but not divine or godly by any means. Others say Jesus was a political revolutionary who defended the common Jew from oppression and mistreatment by the Romans and other bad rulers. Others would say Jesus was misunderstood and a victim. Even billions of Muslims would wrongly confess that Jesus was one of God’s prophets. But all of these answers are less than flattering and respectful, because all of those answers fail to confess Jesus clearly.
So how do we confess Jesus clearly? Listen again to Peter’s response, “Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” A clear confession of Jesus is one that states who Jesus is and what he did. Jesus is the “Son of the living God.” He is truly human, but at the same time he is truly divine. That is the miracle by which the perfect Savior was God's one and only Son who was sent to this earth by our heavenly Father to pay the ultimate price of his life to free people from their sins. Jesus was not just another misunderstood victim of a religious and political battle. He is the eternal, divine, Son of God born of the Virgin Mary.
This divine Son of God, born of the virgin Mary, is also, “the Christ.” Christ is a title. Christ means the “anointed one” or the one that was set apart by God, as he was anointed by the Holy Spirit at his Baptism. He was the chosen one who came to destroy our captivity to sin and Satan, thereby setting us free and giving us an inheritance in the eternal promised land of heaven. Christ did this for all people, including you and me, because all people are held captive to sin and Satan. But by his death on the cross, Christ paid the ransom price to free us captives from our shackles of sin and death, and gave us the certain hope of eternal life in heaven.
So what will our clear confession of Jesus be? I pray that our clear confession of Jesus includes the fact that he is the eternal Son of God, who lived and died to save all people from their sins. Let us confess Jesus clearly and boldly for all to hear and know: Jesus is, “The Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Pastor Mark Gartner
Important Update - Sunday, September 13th our Worship Schedule will be two Sunday morning services at 8:00 and 10:30 am. Note the different times. We will be Livestreaming the 8:00 am service. Adult Bible Class and Sunday School will also begin at 9:15 am.
Wednesday September 9 will be our last week for our Summer online Bible study of the book of Ecclesiastes. We pre-recorded these online studies and if you would like to study this book, we can send the videos to you with the Lesson Sheets. Please contact one of the pastors if you want to be included on the email list.
Starting Sunday September 13 at 9:15 am, Pastor Frey will be leading a Bible Study on "The Christian and Government".
Starting Monday September 14 at 8:00 am and Tuesday September 15 at 5:30 pm, Pastor Gartner will be leading a Bible Study on "The Life Moses -- A Study of the Book of Exodus".
All these Bible Classes that will be starting will be held at church. If you are not comfortable attending them in person or can't make these times and you would like to receive a recording of these Bible Classes, please contact one of the Pastors and we will send you the link for these recordings.
Sunday School will begin September 13 at 9:15. If you are not comfortable sending your child to in-person Sunday School, we have weekly recorded videos of each weeks Bible Lesson and the Lesson sheets that we can send to you so that your child can still learn the valuable truths of God's Word. Please contact us if you would be interested in these materials.
Women of Faith:
We will have our Women of Faith Bible Study and LWMS this September—on Tuesday the 8th, at 1:00pm. We hope many are able to join us.
At this time we still aren’t sure about our Men’s Bible Study later in September. Please keep your eyes and ears open for future announcements.
Returning to Public Worship:
How great and wonderful it is to see people in-person as we worshiped our Lord together again! You should have received a copy of our plan for returning to public worship. Please look over the document carefully. Please note that for the time being, since only one or two ushers will be needed per service, we will not be in need of Usher Teams. If you have any comments or concerns, please contact one of the Pastors or any of the council members. The document can also be accessed by clicking the link below. https://stjohncenter-my.sharepoint.com/:b:/g/personal/pastor_frey_stjohn-appleton_org/EaBy-IahwepIjjaHxkS5IbMBC7X1SDx1pug80s5jAzCihQ?e=fJjd64
In order to encourage and practice social distancing, we are trying to limit each Worship service to 75 people. We are offering 8:00 and 10:30 services on Sunday as well as 6:30 pm on Monday. We are also asking everyone to sign up each week for whatever Worship Service you plan on attending. Please note, that we are in need of volunteers to help sanitize the sanctuary between services. When you sign-up you’ll have an opportunity to mark whether or not you are willing to help out—it only takes about 10 minutes, so we pray that you will!
You can find the link to sign-up on the front page of our website at: www.stjohn-appleton.org.
You can also signup by going directly to this link (it will be a different link each week): https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040a4aa9a62ea6fa7-stjohn2
As we go forward, we will continue to live-stream our services and posting our worship folders online. We will be recording our Sunday 8:00 am service which means you can watch anytime after 8:00 am on Sunday morning. If you need any help accessing these resources, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
You can find our worship services at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCsQs-LDzlHE1NTjOaVaQ2A.
You can find a bulletin for each Worship Service so you can follow along here: https://stjohncenter-my.sharepoint.com/:f:/g/personal/pastor_frey_stjohn-appleton_org/EqetvOMWflhLsfsLRcDkxSgBL2cnYkpiuk8Klh7d-r_XQg?e=07dSma.