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The Most Important Question




The Most Important Question

Matthew 16:13-20


Life is filled with significant questions. What’s the meaning of life? Why are we here? What is truth? Will you marry me? Is this mushroom poisonous?


But of all the grand questions that we could ever hope, or need, to ask ourselves (or others), there’s one question that surpasses them all. And how we answer this one singular question, shapes the answers to all others, and it defines our eternal security.


Of course, the question is: “Who is Jesus?”


I never said it was a new question. In fact, people long, long ago, wrestled with the very same question, as we see in our scripture for today.


“Who is Jesus?”


Of course, this is a question that Jesus posed himself. Jesus had been traveling with his disciples about Galilee, preaching and teaching... healing... feeding multitudes. His own disciples were still obviously struggling to understand Jesus’ teachings:


So, he tossed it out a question to his closest friends, asking, “who do people say that the Son of Man is?” He was basically asking, what are you hearing in regards to people believing I am the Messiah? What is the public opinion? What are other people saying?


Which right off the bat tells us that what other people think actually matters. It’s not the most important thing, but it does matter. It mattered enough for Jesus to question his disciples about it, so it’s important.


Of course, the answer reveals something about people. Some said Jesus was, John the Baptist, others say, Elijah, others, Jeremiah, or even some other prophet. The people were clearly expecting the revelation of God’s Promised One. They were obviously open to the idea, that God was sending a Deliverer, a Savior, one who would redeem Israel.


But the fact is, their answer was wrong. Jesus was no reincarnation. The answer proved that people had failed to properly identify Jesus.


Of course, that’s nothing new, either. The fact of the matter is, still today, there are people who are confused over who Jesus really is. A very recent survey, taken by a Reformed ministry, that I trust, says that over half of the respondents agreed to the statement, “Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God.” That’s what people are saying about Jesus, today, in the 21st Century. Which is completely contrary to God’s Word!


John 10:30 ~ “I and the Father are one.”


John 14:9 ~ Jesus said, “if you’ve seen me you have seen the Father.”


Philippians 2:5-6 ~ “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God (some translations “essence” of God) did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.”


And whether we claim that Jesus was a great teacher, a radical zealot, a nice guy, or just a figment of humanity’s collective imagination, the end result is the same as it was 2000 years ago… Rejection of the truth. We live in a world that’s desperate to label Jesus as anything other than what he claims to be... and it’s a world that’s living a lie.


Of course, after hearing the response to his question... Jesus turned the question to his disciples: but who do you say that I am?


Peter immediately spoke up and answered for the group, “you are the Christ, the son of the living God.” And you can immediately feel the contrast between what the people had said, and what Peter said. Uncertainty versus certainty. Ignorance versus conviction. Truth verses non-truth.


Peter knew that Jesus was no ordinary teacher, he was no ordinary rebel, not even an ordinary man of God. Jesus is the Christ; the long awaited, much needed, anointed one. He’s not just another in a long line of prophets, who came to predict, and proclaim God judgment, wrath, or mercy. The Old Testament itself made it clear that the Messiah would be more than just a man… And Peter’s declaration that Jesus is the son of the living God is a statement of clarity: Jesus is unique, he is other, he is God. That’s how Peter answers the most important question ever asked.


And the answer turns out to be foundational. Peter’s answer is what the church itself is built upon. There are good people in our world, who have mistakenly interpreted Jesus’ words, and this very scripture, to mean that Jesus established his church upon Peter. But that’s not what’s happening here. Jesus was establishing his church upon the revelation that Peter revealed. And there’s a huge difference. It was a “play on words” = Peter, in Greek sounds like the word for Rock in Greek! Jesus was NOT saying the church, His Church, would be built upon Peter! Jesus was saying, you are Peter (which sounds like rock), and upon this Rock of revelation (the confession that I’m the Messiah)... upon THIS rock I will build my church. Jesus was never promising to build his church upon Peter (anymore than he’s promising to build it upon you or me), but upon the Truth of Peter’s confession, and answer to the most important question ever asked. Who is Jesus? Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is God in the Flesh. Jesus is God.


Of course, the natural progression, of these two questions: what do people say? And what did Jesus’ disciples say? Is to ask ourselves, who do we say Jesus is?


How do you and I answer the most important question ever asked? Contrary to what many people believe there are only two answers, two possible responses. That Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah... or he’s something else! There’s no middle ground, no gray area… Either he is or he isn’t.


Of course, God’s Word tells us that only those to whom the Truth is revealed with ever understand. Jesus himself said to Peter, this revelation that Jesus is the Christ “was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.”


Ask God to reveal Jesus in all his fullness to you. It’s a spiritual revelation, that underscores everything we claim to believe as followers of Christ... and until we get it right, we will never know the fullness of God’s grace, and blessings, in this life... or the next.


Amen.

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