One Person, One Question

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“Did God really say . . . ?” “Who am I?” and “Who do you say that I am?”

Three separate questions stretch over the course of human history, each shaping the future enormously. In each case the asker was not searching for the answer. That would come from those who listened. Their response would shape the future.

After God leaves Adam and Eve to enjoy the Garden with instructions to stay away from the forbidden fruit, the serpent arrives to ask, “Did God really say . . . .” And that subtle query opens the door to choice and the path to humanity’s fall (Gen. 3:1).

The second comes from Moses. God calls to him from the burning bush and tells him to go to Egypt, negotiate with Pharaoh, and take the people of Israel to a new land. Moses responds with a question from the very heart of his character: Who am I? Who am I to go to Pharaoh and the leaders of Israel? Seems like a pretty legitimate question to me. But God responds that it is the wrong question. The question is not, “Who is Moses?” The question is, “Who is God?” “I AM God. I will go before you and you will follow me" (Ex. 3:1-4:17). With the right question, we become followers. God is the leader.

The third question that captures my thinking is one that Jesus asks his disciples. “Who do people say that I am? Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:27-29). He did not tell them he was the Messiah. They needed to come to that for themselves. “Who do you say that I am?” opens the door for the disciples to understand the future. Peter answers for them all: “You are the Messiah, the Christ.” Now it is their answer, not just his. Jesus had a calling, a purpose, an identity. He called them to follow. They were to continue his legacy. But they had to understand. It had to become their calling, their legacy as well. And Peter’s conviction starts him on the path that launches the church and leads to his crucifixion. A simple question, but a life-changing answer.

And the question does not stop here. Tradition suggests that Mark was a disciple of Peter, who mentored him in life, leadership, and faith. At some point in their relationship, I imagine Peter put the question to Mark: Who do you say that Jesus is? And Mark’s answer led him to write the gospel account. And, of course, anyone who picks up Mark’s text has to answer the same question from Jesus: Who do you say that I am?

Simple questions: life-changing answers. Can one person make a difference? With the right question, the possibilities are enormous. With questions, we shape the future. Do you want to change the world? What is your question?
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