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Daily Devotional • January 18
Feast of the Confession of St. Peter, Apostle

Ed Little
Confessing Jesus
A Reading from Acts 10:34-44

34 Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every people anyone who fears him and practices righteousness is acceptable to him. 36 You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ — he is Lord of all. 37 That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” 44 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word.

The feast should more accurately be called the Confessions of St. Peter. Certainly, it all began with “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). But after Peter’s three-fold denial and Jesus’ death and resurrection,Peter couldn’t stop confessing. “Let the entire house of Israel know with certainty,” Peter preached on Pentecost, “that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). When a lame man was healed, Peter tells the crowd, “God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. … When God raised up his servant [Jesus], he sent him first to you” (Acts 3:18, 26). Before a hostile Sanhedrin, Peter declared, “God exalted [Jesus] at his right hand as leader and savior” (Acts 5:31).

Today, in his final recorded speech, Peter addresses Cornelius and his household, Gentile God-fearers who’d sent for Peter in response to an angelic visitation. “We are witness to all that [Jesus] did both in Judea and in Jerusalem,” Peter confesses. “They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day.” For Peter, confessing is not a one-time event. Far from it, Peter confessed Jesus over and over again. It is his confessions, rather than his denials, that have come to define his character.

Not uncommonly, celebrants add after the sermon, “Let us confess our faith in the words of the Nicene Creed.” We can never confess Jesus too often. We need to hear ourselves speaking the name of Jesus. Our very confession builds and strengthens our faith. After all, St. Paul reminds us, “if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9).  The sound of our own voice can transform our hearts. 

The Rt. Rev. Edward S. Little II was bishop of Northern Indiana for 16 years after serving parishes in Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Joaquin. He is the author of three books; most recently: The Heart of a Leader: St. Paul as Mentor, Model, and Encourager (2020).

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Today we pray for:

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Jacksonville, Florida
The Diocese of Oxford – The Church of England
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