The Most Important Question Ever Asked
Why? That is a question that most of us ask when we don’t understand something, need more information, or can’t believe what the other person just said. Think about a very young child incessantly asking the parent over and over “why”. That seems to be the question we continuously ask others and especially God in trying to understand His ways. While the why question is important and certainly not wrong, the reality is why is never fully answered and in fact is not the most important question we Christians should be asking.
Let me illustrate about why is never fully answered. You have a son that God tells you is going to die soon, but that his death will result in thousands coming to Christ. After the initial shock of what is going to transpire, you might think “well at least his death will have significant meaning.” But after a while you might wonder “why my son”? Why couldn’t God have allowed someone else’s son to die this noble death?
Maybe “how” is the best question to ask? I mean if I get some information, especially to effectively do something, then isn’t how a good question to ask so I can know what to do? Once again, there is nothing wrong with a how question. Maybe that is a good question to ask when needing to know the way forward. But the reality is, I don’t believe it is the most important question to ask.
So enough already, what is the most important question we should be asking? I believe that to be a “who” question. I base this on a time in Jesus’ ministry, when he takes his disciples to the region of Caesarea Philippi and asks them two questions (see Matthew 16:13-17). The first one is “who do people say the Son of Man is?” He is probing about the scuttlebutt that is being bantered about in Israel as to His identity.
The answers are interesting because none of the responses are who Jesus really is. The possibilities mentioned are Jesus is John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or another prophet. These are astounding answers because the three names mentioned are people that have already died. Almost like the Jews, who didn’t believe in reincarnation, were essentially saying that Jesus was one of these individuals come back from the dead. Strange indeed!
Then Jesus hones in on the disciples by asking the question more personally. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answers and says, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus immediate reply is “you are blessed Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.” So it is obvious that Peter answers correctly.
But how do we know the who question is the most important question to ask? I believe when we are going through trials and tribulations, then asking who is Jesus, is far more important than why. It causes us to face the ultimate reality of the person we are following as our Lord and Savior.
You see when I am confronted by difficulties, knowing who Jesus is in the situation brings me far more peace and clarity than simply to know why or how. If I believe that Jesus is a good and loving God, then when faced with a trying period I can be assured that he is for me; he cares for me; he knows best; and maybe most importantly I can count on him. If I believe he isn’t good or loving than I can easily blame him for the difficulties in my life because after all He is God.
Years ago I met a woman who came in for a brief counseling session while I was on pastoral staff at a church. She and her husband were on their way home to another state after working with an orphanage on the mission field when they decided to stop off at the town our church was located in. Why I don’t remember?
The reason they were returning was the wife was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. In discussing her life I discovered what was driving her to mental torment was her view of God. She believed God was a cruel taskmaster who would be ready to squash her if she sinned. This was coming from a woman who grew up in a Christian home, went to Christian schools, and married by all accounts a wonderful, loving man. I was never able to convince her of God’s goodness and love for her. Essentially her “who” view of God was something that I couldn’t relate.
Going back to Jesus’ response to Peter, remember the Lord tells him the answer to the who question was given to Peter by revelation from the Father. This tells me the absolute necessity of having a vibrant prayer life, open to The Holy Spirit, who reveals who God is.
My dear brothers and sisters, there will always be challenges in this life and things we don’t understand, but at the end of the day if we don’t know who Jesus really is, then our lives will be filled with doubt and uncertainty. Yes you can ask why, how, or a million other questions. When, however, talking with your Heavenly Father, a simple who are you Lord in this situation will do more healing, bring more peace and more assurance than anything else you can ask.