There are many questions we will be asked over the course of our lives. Most of them are inquires about the mundane and some even extend to the absurd. There are important questions that come to us from time to time, however, that can be life altering depending on how we answer them. Questions like a marriage proposal. Questions about a career path. A question posed by a police office, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” Or perhaps a good server at a restaurant who, before saying anything else, asks if you would like coffee.
Well, perhaps the last two there are not so important (though answering the police officer with a snide remark may make for a day-altering experience). Nonetheless, there are questions in life that are extremely important and answering them involves more than simply a thoughtless quip. There are questions that require understanding and research and careful contemplation. Questions so important that not even our feelings can be allowed to dictate our response. These types of questions will eventually require us to “lock in” our answer, and once that is done, we may be left unable to change it. One can almost hear Regis Philbin asking, “Is that your final answer?”
Jesus Christ actually asked one of these type of questions to His disciples. In Matthew 16, a conversation is recorded where Jesus makes an inquiry about what others were saying about Him. “When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, ‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?’ So they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’”– Matthew 16:13-14
Just like today, there is plenty of conversations and speculations to who Jesus was and everyone has an opinion. Of course, there is only one right answer. Relative truth does not apply here. (Nor does it really apply anywhere, but that is a matter for another time.) After sharing some things that they heard others saying about Jesus, the Lord asks His disciples the most important question they would ever have to answer; “But who do you say that I am?” (verse 15)
This question reverberates down through the ages and stands before the threshold of every man and woman. It doesn’t really matter what others say about Jesus. Your soul hangs on your own answer to this question. You may quickly dismiss this idea as rubbish because you have already made up your mind about Jesus. However, if you would hear me out just a bit longer, I would remind you that important questions demand more than simply an uninvestigated response. If indeed, one’s eternity hangs on this very question, would it not be wisdom to search it out without preconceived notions, before issuing a final answer?
Of course, there are various opinions about Jesus Christ, just as when He asked His disciples about what others were saying about Him. Some say He was simply a good teacher who taught us to love one another. He certainly did teach that, but He taught that we are to love God more. To the point of Jesus only being a good teacher, this is absolutely unreconcilable with what He proclaimed. Jesus, on several occasions, made claim that He was the promised Messiah (Christ) and that He was, in fact, God incarnate. That is precisely the charge that condemned Him! He was found guilty of blasphemy. Therefore, if He is not who He claims to be, that would make Him a liar and a deceiver, and therefore not a good teacher.
Others may label Jesus as a fraud. They postulate that He purposely sought to make Himself the Messiah and therefore deliberately attempted to fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament. Of course, there were prophecies, such as His place of birth, that were out of His control… unless He was who He said He was. Then there is the fact that the prophecies foretold that the Messiah would be rejected and killed. That is quite a commitment to a role for a con-artist to play, especially when it ends with no personal gain and an excruciating death.
There are plenty of other ideas to consider, but one of those ideas that must be seriously investigated personally is that Jesus Christ is exactly who He proclaimed to be. Each one of us must answer the question He asks, “But who do you say that I am?” The Lord Himself was quite clear about what is at stake when He made the assertion, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
One last thing concerning this most important question; simply answering correctly isn’t enough. The answer needs to irrevocable affect every facet of our life. If indeed, Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah, and God’s one and only plan for saving our eternal souls, then a confession by mouth should also bring forth a confession by lifestyle. It should be noted that demons know who Jesus is and they confessed it (Mark 1:23-25). However, there is no salvation for them.
Therefore, as we celebrate this Easter weekend, let us put away the distractions (for it takes little to draw us away from the true meaning; a bunny delivering colored eggs?) and let us contemplate the most important question of our lives. Be mindful not to dismiss this question too quickly, for if Jesus is the Christ, all of your existence will depend on what your final answer is.
Over this Resurrection Holiday, may your coffee and contemplations (this particular contemplation overall) be rich and fulfilling. Wishing you a very joyous Easter!