BY DAVE STEEL
Here’s a classic small group discussion starter you may have heard before: “If you could ask God one question, what would you ask him?” Posing this provocative question is a great way to take the discussion to the deep end of the pool. Try it sometime.
But what if we were to turn the tables? What if we were to ask, “If God could ask me one question, what would he ask me?”
It’s not so far-fetched when you stop to realize that God has been asking people questions since the Garden of Eden. There he asked Adam, “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:9) and “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” (v. 11). God didn’t ask these questions because he couldn’t find Adam or because he wasn’t there when the forbidden fruit went missing. God sees and knows everything.
So why would God ask us questions when he already knows the answer?
Sometimes our situation is so desperate that only God can help us, but we aren’t ready to face this reality. So we hide or we trust in things that can’t really help us. That’s when God, out of his compassion, will ask us a question that compels us to face our need of him.
Jesus, God’s Son, did this when he encountered a man who had been disabled for thirty-eight years, poised at the edge of a pool supposed to have healing powers. Jesus asked him, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6). The question was really an invitation for the man to lift his eyes and behold the remedy standing right in front of him.
Knowing that Jesus uses questions this way, what do you suppose he might ask you if you gave him the chance to ask you one question?
I suspect the question Jesus would ask you and me is one he asked his earliest disciples: “Who do you say I am?” (Matt. 16:15).
Jesus made it clear that embracing his true identity was a life or death matter for us, saying elsewhere, “If you do not believe I am he, you will indeed die in your sins” (John 8:24).
“Who do you say I am?” That’s the question.
How would you answer that?
Many reply with something like, “You’re a great moral teacher” or “You’re a prophet.” But the apostle Peter speaks for every true disciple of Jesus when he answers boldly, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16).
That word Christ means “anointed one.” It’s a reference to the centuries-old expectation of a coming Messiah who would rescue God’s people. The writings of the Old Testament prophets all pointed to this Messiah, as Jesus himself explained to two of his disciples after his resurrection (Luke 24:27). Peter was declaring that Jesus is this long-awaited Savior.
By declaring “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Peter crystallizes why we follow Jesus. As Peter’s brother Andrew put it, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41). It’s the most important discovery we will ever make, which is why Jesus asks . . . “Who do you say I am?”