Matthew records for us in the 16th chapter of his book a critical question Jesus poses to His disciples. First, He asks them, “Who are people saying that I am?” They give Jesus some answers. Some were saying Jesus was like Elijah and Isaiah. Some were even saying Jesus was John the Baptist returned from the dead.
Then He asks them this question: “Who do YOU say that I am?” I imagine Him looking them into their eyes with one of those glances that stares into their souls and asks, “Who do you say that I am?” Then I imagine Him letting it hang there in the air for a few minutes.
Very few questions are more important than that. Having a right answer to that question is critical. Knowing who Jesus is and having an answer to who He is, is a big deal.
For years I would tell people that there is no more important question than that and no more important question to have an answer to than that. I would say that knowing or not knowing the answer to that question will have massive implications that will impact where and how you will spend your life here and in eternity.
I’ve told hundreds of people that there is no more important question than that and no more important answer than that.
But I was wrong.
Sure. It is critical. Sure. Your answer to that will have massive implications that do, indeed, impact your eternity. Yes, yes, and yes. But I do not believe it is the most important question to be answered.
I know a lot of people who have a right answer to that question and who have right convictions about who Jesus is, but could take Him or leave Him in their lives. If He can help them get out of a jam, great. If He can help them advance in their career, great. They believe He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God – but love for Him? Not so much.
As a matter of fact, Peter had the right answer to that question in Matthew 16, but a few short verses after that Jesus called him Satan. Satan believes Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
No, I don’t believe that is the most important question to be asked, or the most important answer that must be given anymore. It is critical and super important. But not ultimate.
Here’s the ultimate question from Jesus: “Do you love me?” I do not believe there is a greater or more important answer we can give to that question. Do you love Jesus? Who you think He is is critical. What you believe He has done is massively important. But I believe it is possible to know who He really is and have a belief about what He has done, but have zero to little affection for Him.
I know a lot about Donald Trump, but I don’t love him. I know a lot about Nick Saban, but I don’t love him.
If we know a lot about Jesus and have certain convictions about Him, but have no love for Him – we’ve missed the point. I would argue that if we know a lot about Jesus but have no love for Him, not only have we missed the point of why He came – we’ve missed the whole point of life.
You see, the question, “Who do you say that I am?” as critical as it is, is about belief. Knowledge. Understanding. Doctrinal conviction. Super important. I don’t want to diminish that at all. But if we just keep it there, on the surface, nothing about our life has to change.
“Do you love me?” is a question about relationship. It’s a question that makes the one asking it vulnerable. It’s asked by one who has put their cards on the table, risked it, thrown it out there. It’s one thing to say, “I believe you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” It’s another thing to say, “I love you.” Especially if it is in response to someone who knows everything – including your heart. Similarly, it’s one thing for Jesus to tell us He loves us. It’s quiet another for Him to ask us if we love Him.