Apologetic Tract The Important question of life

By 10:15 AM

Have You Answered the Important Question of Life?

If we would meet Jesus today and He asked us, “Who do you say I am?,” how would we answer?  This is not a strange question.  It was the one Jesus asked the Apostles one day as He was in Caesarea Philippi.  To it Peter answered: “You are the Messiah!”

Would that be our answer? Peter blurted this out without realizing the full import of what he was saying.  His concept of Messiah and the reality of who Jesus was as Messiah were not identical.  It was only after the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, and the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, did Peter come to a more complete understanding of the identity of Jesus.

As Peter answered differently after Pentecost, hopefully our response is different now from any earlier responses we may have made.  Even though Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, our relationship to Him must be changing from yesterday, to today and into tomorrow.  If it doesn’t, then our faith may be stagnant.

The status of any relationship is determined by whether it is growing or declining.  Relationships do not just maintain themselves. They demand attention and focus, support and affirmation. If this is true of human relationships, how much more true is this when we look at our personal relationship with Jesus?

Maybe the corollary question to "Who do you say I am?" is "What is your relationship with me now?" Or, to fine-tune the question so that its urgency is clear, what if death occurred tonight and we faced Jesus in judgment?  What if He asked these questions?  How would we answer?  What if He further asked: "Why should I give you everlasting life?"  What if he showed us our whole life in an instant from the moment of birth till death, what would our life indicate in relationship to these crucial questions?

The urgency that is implied in the questions is underlined by three parables given by Jesus:

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.  When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.  When it is full, they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets.  What is bad they throw away.  Thus it will be at the end of the age.  The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” (Mt 13:44-50)

What is this great treasure? Eternal life with God. It is not something we can buy or earn but it is a   decision to accept the gift given to us by the death and resurrection of Jesus.

How does Jesus speak of eternal life in John’s Gospel?

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16)

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.” (Jn 3:36)

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him (on) the last day." (Jn 6:40)

“Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” (Jn 17:3)

To know “the only true God and the one whom he sent” is not a head trip.  It is not to know about Jesus as we know any other person that has lived.  To know Him is to accept Him and commit our lives to Him as our Lord and Savior, as the Christ, the Son of God.  Not to know Him in this way, when we had every opportunity to do so, will result in the dire consequences spoken at the end of the parables.  “The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”  This is not some idle threat, but a forewarning statement of the consequences   involved in refusing to know, accept and do the will of Jesus because of who He is and what He has done for us.

“Who do you say, I am?  Why should I give you eternal life?”  Yes, these questions and their respective responses are not speculative spin-offs.  They are keys to whether we will experience eternal life in glory with God or eternal alienation away from God. 

Jesus died that we may have life to the fullest.  He freely gives this life to those who choose to receive it and consciously respond to its demands.  The demand can be simply stated thus: Jesus is to be the All in All of our life.  Because of who Jesus is, because the gift of life to the fullest is of inestimable value, anything less than a relationship that reflects the Lordship of Jesus would be lifeless.  Obviously, the demand does not presume a perfect relationship now.  But it does demand the desire to actively pursue a fuller relationship of unity and love with Jesus.

Though Peter answered the question “Who do you say I am,” by stating Jesus was the Christ, for him to fully understand the meaning of that awareness he had to experience the death of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection.  Because when he made that initial response, Jesus’ death on the cross was far from his mind. As a result, Peter was not ready to embrace the cross in his life at that moment.

However, after the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, He manifested himself to Peter and asked him three times: “Do you love me?” Peter answered each time “Yes.”  To know Jesus as the Christ means to enter into a love relationship with Him and embrace the daily cross of our own death to self in order to share more fully in the eternal life offered by Jesus.

The questions I have raised are serious. Thus, they require our serious attention and active response, not at some future day, but today.  We know neither the hour nor the day Jesus will ask these questions of us.  But He will.  Thus, the need to make the right choices is the urgency of the moment, of each moment of our life.

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