Life is filled with questions.

Most we forget. After a little time slips by us, they're simply not important to us.

  • What time is it?
  • What do you want for lunch?
  • What's on TV tonight?

Some we remember. They set the stage for our life that follows.

  • Where do you want to go to college?
  • Where are we going to live?
  • What do you want to do for a living?

Some we'd like to forget. They remind us of mistakes, failures, or foolish decisions.

  • How could you do such a thing?
  • Why did I invest in that?
  • Didn't you know you would get caught?

Some we treasure. They usher us into life as we know it and brought us blessings that were greater than we imagined.

  • Will you marry me?
  • What do you think we should name her?

There is one question, however, that is THE QUESTION. It's the one great question that we must all answer. There is no other question that compares in importance to it.

Jesus had withdrawn from the crowds and the usual places of his ministry.[TEXT] He wanted to be alone with his closest followers. He first asked them who people thought he might be. After a series of answers, Matthew gives us these words:

[Jesus] said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" (Matthew 16:15 ESV).

What others think about Jesus' identity isn't the issue. This issue is who I believe Jesus to be:

But who do you say that I am?

The question jumps off the page of Matthew's gospel into our lap. We must do something with it. If we are going to be JESUShaped disciples, we must answer this question!

So, Jesus' words reach across the cultural differences, the miles between us geographically, and the two millennia that separate us from the moment this question was first asked. The question challenges our settled approaches to life as modern Christians. The question challenges each of us to reach beyond our inherited faith to own what we personally believe.

Jesus has withdrawn from the masses to be alone with... us.

Jesus wants us to think about who he is and who he is to us.

Jesus is asking this question of us... of me... and of you:

But who do you say that I am?

Rather than share a few...

  • Cheery words...
  • or theological words...
  • or motivational words...
  • or interpretive words...
  • or words you've already heard...

Let's sit at the feet of Jesus and listen as he asks each of us THE QUESTION:

But who do you say that I am?

Jesus wants us to think about who he is and who he is to us.
This is the first of four devotional posts on "The Question" — challenging us to authentically answer the most important question of our lives:

  1. The Question.
  2. Heaven's Window.
  3. The Misunderstanding.
  4. Cruciformed Disciples.

The focus of these four articles will be Matthew 16:13-27 (ESV) — today's emphasis in bold:

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"

And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"

Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.

And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you."

But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man."

Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done."

Emphasis added in bold for focus.

Jesus images used courtesy of Free Bible Images and The Lumo Project.