In my years of ministry, I have found myself asking this one question many times, in many ways, and with many people. It is a question that appears to be quite simple at face value, but when it is honestly considered and responded to, it is one of the most profound questions that can be asked. I have found no other question to be as efficient in getting to the heart of a person’s personal faith and spiritual formation. And one of the beautiful things about this question is how it can be universally asked and applied to both Christians and non-Christians.
Ok, I think I have built up the suspense enough. Here is the question…
Who do you say that Jesus is?
Now I know what you are thinking…”Reid, you clearly had a deadline and just threw this Sunday School question together last minute.” This question actually comes straight from the words of Jesus Himself in Matthew 16. Jesus first asks His disciples in a general sense who the people say that He is.
This first question is not that dissimilar from a question someone today might ask inquiring about the various views, theories, and opinions that are out there about Jesus. The disciples proceed to share with Him what they have heard from other people.
Then Jesus turns to His disciples again and asks the question in a more pointed and personal way.
“But who do you say that I am?”
It’s almost as if He is saying, “Ok, those may be some of the views out there about me, but I want to know what you think. What is your view of me?” There is something about this question that, when understood and asked clearly, prevents us from giving a pat answer. It almost demands that we open up and give a very honest reply. A reply so real that it surprises you when you hear your own answer.
You see, it is one thing to have a theory about God, or a view of Christianity, or even an interpretation of some of Jesus’ teachings. But when you get down to brass tacks and ask yourself, “Who do I say that Jesus is?”, what you find is that the answer you give reveals more about your heart and your very life than perhaps any other question can.
And here is the beauty of this question. It doesn’t have a shelf life. It is a question that can, and indeed should, be asked for the rest of our lives. The other great thing about this question is that it is a question generator, in that it will inevitably lead to further questions and conversations.
So if you are looking for a way to diagnose your own spiritual health, facilitate a meaningful conversation among other believers in your life, or engage in thoughtful dialogue with someone who is skeptical of the Christian faith, consider adding this question to your tool box. But be sure to ask it of yourself first. Who knows, you may find your own answer to be surprising.