Jesus said many things that have eternal significance and consequence. He made some chilling statements that can be found in Matthew 10:32-29 [NLB] :
“Whoever makes Me known [confesses Me] in front of men, I will make him known to My Father in heaven. But whoever does not make Me known in front of men and acts as if he does not know Me, I will not make him known to My Father in heaven. Do not think I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. I came to turn a man against his father. I came to turn a daughter against her mother. I came to turn a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man will be hated by his own family. He who loves his father and mother more than Me is not good enough for Me. He who loves son or daughter more than Me is not good enough for Me. He who does not take his cross and follow Me is not good enough for Me. He who wants to keep his life will have it taken away from him. He who loses his life because of Me will have it given back to him.”
“Everyone who confesses Me [makes Me known]” is an interesting statement. A question we must ask ourselves is this – what does it mean to confess Jesus, to make Him known?
The obvious answer seems to be to speak up, to use words that affirm Jesus is our Lord. But according to Scripture, confession is much more than saying the right words. Confession is much more than a vocabulary. Confession is a lifestyle! Christianity is a lifestyle that re-presents Christ to the world and before the world.
Jesus goes on to say, “But whoever does not make Me known in front of men and acts as if he does not know Me“. I like the way the New Life Bible adds the phrase “and acts as if he does not know Me” because it removes any confusion about the necessity for our conduct to match our confession.
Look at what the apostle Paul said to Titus, one of his spiritual sons. “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed” [Titus 1:16]. Yikes! Ouch! True!
When a person’s conduct betrays their confession we must pay more attention to how they live than to how they say they live. Our lifestyle speaks volumes. Our lifestyle is the only accurate gauge whereby people can assess our lives.
John the Baptist said good fruit must accompany claims of repentance [Matthew 3:8]. Jesus said that His people were to judge the conduct [behavior] of those who claimed to be Christians because we would know them by their fruit [Matthew 7:15-20]. Why? Because wolves dress up like sheep.
In our original text Jesus uses very strong language. This assures us He is dead serious about what He is saying. The One known as the Prince of Peace [Isaiah 9:6] said He did not come to bring peace.
Here, bringing peace means to make nice, to be vanilla, to be non-confrontational, to be benign, and to blend in.
Jesus said He came “to bring a sword”.
No, Jesus is not advocating physical violence against people. Jesus is illustrating in very strong language the effects of His sword [Word / Psalm 149:6; Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 1:16; 2:12] will have on people, even families.
Decisions must be made that will affect human relationships. In the first century when someone came to Christ they were usually subjected to ridicule, ostracism and even excommunication from family, friends, or the community at large. Many lost jobs, homes, and lands because they decided to “confess” Christ as Lord.
Jesus goes on to say that those that confess Him must “take up their cross and follow Him”. This is where lifestyle and confession must be congruent. A person who is a Christian in word only will not pay the price to daily follow Jesus with their cross on their back. Notice Jesus did not say carry His cross and follow Him. Our cross is why we are on the planet. It is our purpose, our destiny, our call, and our mission [Ephesians 2:10].
We must carry our cross and follow Jesus. In other words, Jesus will not lead us into a lifestyle that is not congruent with His, or His plan for our life.
Paul understood this principle when He said, “Follow me as I follow Christ Jesus” [1 Corinthians 11:1]. Other translations state this verse this way, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.”
This clearly reveals that Paul was following in Christ’s footsteps so he could confidently tell others to walk in his. To imitate means to follow as a model, to copy a person’s mannerisms, and to simulate. To simulate means to imitate the appearance or character of someone else.
Who are we following and where are they leading us? Who are we leading and where are we leading them?
Jesus completes His statements on conduct, confession and congruency in our text by saying this, “He who wants to keep his life will have it taken away from him. He who loses his life because of Me will have it given back to him.” I hope we get what He is saying. I believe He is saying “compromise kills!”
When a person tries to preserve “their” life Jesus says they will lose that life. This is a picture of selfishness. Jesus offers people His life and when they choose their life over His the results are disastrous, even for those who “say” they are His.
For HIS Glory!
Dr. Kevin M. Drury