Life's Most Important Question         
Luke 9:18 20

Jesus knew how to ask a question. It was one of his favorite tools in teaching. He would use a question to drive a
truth into the heart. He would also use a question to call for a decision. Of all the questions that Jesus ever asked,
I believe this one to be the most important. There is something about this question that still probes to the depth of
my being.

This question marked a critical turning point in the ministry of Jesus. Months of ministry have been invested in the
lives of these men. Jesus takes them away from the busy scene of ministry to a place near Caesarea Philippi.
There He first makes a rather innocent inquiry about what the crowds are saying about Him, but then He asks what
His disciples have come to understand about Him. What others think about Him can be a thing of interest, but the
thing of ultimate importance is what you think about Him.

Jesus asked the question only after he had spent some time alone in prayer. He knew this question to be of
ultimate importance to his disciples, to the outcome of His ministry in their lives, and to His mission in the world. For
them and for us it must be the most important question that Jesus ever asked.

"Whom say ye that I am?" The question concerns our understanding of the identity of the most important person
who ever lived on the earth. It is obvious that the crowds had not yet begun to realize His importance. They were
identifying Him with some of the great names of the past. His boldness and message made them think of John the
Baptist. Some who did not know Him very well were saying that He must be a resurrect¬ed John the Baptist. Others
who knew of His mighty works and miracles thought of Elijah. Many expected Elijah to make another appearance
before the coming of the Messiah. Others identified Him with other of the old prophets. They knew that He was
uniquely from God, but they did not know for sure who He might be. But all of their comparisons mis¬sed the mark
because they were still comparing him with other great names of human history. They did not realize that this One
was different from all others. He was and is life's most important person.

A.        His unique nature makes Him life's most important person.
The disciples had only begun to realize the uniqueness of His nature. When Peter boldly answered the question,
"You are the Christ of God" he indicated something of their understanding of His uniqueness. In Matthew's account
of the same incident he has Peter confession, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God". It was an affirmation
of the unique¬ness of His relationship to God.

In nature this One was fully God and fully man. He was God and became a man.
If Jesus had been just another great religious leader, the question would have been of limited importance. But
since He is who He is, this question is of the utmost importance.

B.        His unique mission make's Him life's most important person.
Peter confessed, 'You are the Christ of God". Christ is the transliteration of the Greek word into English, but Peter
actually used the Hebrew word for Messiah, "The anointed one". Peter was confessing Him to be the Messiah that
God had promised to send to the nation and Israel.

The mission of the Messiah was to be threefold as understood by the Old Testament prophets. He was to be the
Prophet who would reveal the will of God fully to the people. He was to be the Priest who would offer the complete
sacrifice for the sins of the world. He was to be the King who would rule the world in righteousness and justice. His
mission was to bring the kingdom of God to the affairs of a broken and lost world. Never before or since has
another ever been sent on such a mission; a mission to be Revealer, Redeemer, and Ruler. If One has come from
heaven to earth to let you know the mind of God, to bring to you peace with God, and to be Lord over your life as
God's appointed ruler, then your knowledge of who He is seems to be of great importance. So without question
this question concerns the greatest Person of life.

As Luke presents the question and answer, it might seem to be just an innocent ques¬tion that our Lord presented
to His disciples. It might seem to be just a matter of curiosity on his part. But when you study this question in its
greater context, it is obvious that the issue goes much deeper than this. Indeed, there is no greater issue ever
raised with man.

A.        The issue is personal.
The emphatic word in the question is "you". Jesus is interested in the ideas being formed by the crowd, but He
knows all that really matters is what you think. So He thrusts the question upon His disciples in a very personal way.

How do you respond to this question? Would you be inclined to answer, "Well, my church teaches that you are the
Son of God". Jesus will not accept that. The question is personal.

You might even want to answer, "Well, the Bible says that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God". While
what the Bible says about Jesus is of supreme importance, this is not the question. Rather he wanted to know their
personal view of Him. Who did they understand Him to be?

B.        The issue is eternal.
If my eternal destiny depends upon my relationship to Jesus Christ, then this is life's most important question.

If you ask me about my understanding of Ronald Reagan, that is not an eternal issue. Some people want to make
it more important than your understanding of Jesus Christ, but it is not. I have lived long enough to learn that
presidents come and presidents go, but most of the problems of human existence just stay with us. Your
understanding of any mortal man is a very temporal kind of issue. But your understanding of Jesus Christ is an
eternal issue.

A little later Jesus will say to His disciples a most significant thing. "All things have been committed to me by my
Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom
the Son chooses to reveal him". (Matt. 11:27) John reports that our Lord would say later, "I am the way the truth
and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me".(John 14:6) When you take those statements, and place
them alongside this question, you begin to see that the issue is an eternal one. How you respond to this question
has eternal implications. Those who do not come to a proper confession about Jesus Christ, do not come to enjoy
the gift of eternal life, they do not come to a saving relationship with God.

Peter's answer was, "You are the Christ of God". This understanding changed everything about Peter's life. It
changed his vocation. It changed his relationship to His family. It changed the way he conducted his daily affairs.
When Jesus raised this question with His disciples, He really touched on the most critical matter of life. Your
understanding of who Jesus is, will affect the kind of commitment you make to Him. The kind of commitment you
make to Him will affect everything in your life.

A. This is a commitment of the control of life.
If Jesus is who we say He is, then He must have the Lordship over our lives. We must either change what we say
about Him or change our commitment to Him.

C.        This is a commitment for eternity.
Jesus went ahead to discuss the implications of this for Peter and the others. It did involve a death to self and a
cross bearing lifestyle. It involved a commitment from which there was no retreat.
When you confess Jesus as Lord, you have a Savior for eternity. He will be there for you for all of the ages if you
are here for Him in this life. If you confess Him before men, He will confess you before the Father.

Simon Peter did not wait until he understood everything about Jesus to make his commitment and his confession. If
he had waited he would never have made it. Rather based on the best evidence that was available to him, he took
a step of faith. By faith he declared that to Him, Jesus was the Christ of God, the Son of the living God. Based on
this confession, he made a commitment to the extent of his ability. He became a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Can you do this? Can you make a confession of faith based on the best evidence that is available to you? This is
life's most important question to you!