Searching Questions: Week Four

The Question that Challenges Us

"Who do you say I am?"

Scripture: Luke 9:18-27
Related Scriptures:
Old Testament: Malachi 3:14
Psalter: Psalm 45
Epistle: Revelation 1:9-18

Simply put, this is the single most critical question Jesus Christ ever asked. Our answer to it reveals nothing less than our very destiny itself. In judging him, we are judged.

You must answer the question.
It's fascinating to note that Jesus first asked how the crowds viewed him. The disciples gushed forth with all kinds of opinions and reports. This roundtable discussion was safe, impersonal, interesting. The talk flowed like spin doctors after a presidential debate. But suddenly the Lord called a halt to the theorizing, leveled his gaze right at the disciples' eyeballs, and asked, "But what about you?" You must answer the question yourself, and parrot answers won't fly with him.

You must answer the question.
This question cannot be evaded. For Jesus is either who he said he was, the Son of God, or he is a liar or a lunatic (as C.S. Lewis has pointed out). Just as earthly judges direct witnesses to either answer the question or be in contempt of court, so Jesus Christ compels us to decide. For he is the Alpha and Omega. He brackets our lives. He is the unavoidable and the inescapable. He cannot be put off. He must be faced. And not to decide is to decide he's not who he said he was.

You must answer the question.
The question is answered once for all; but it is not answered all at once. It is an existential question that Jesus asks us again and again in the changing chapters of our lives.

Peter's clear-headed confession comes right after seeing five thousand fed. He's primed for profession. But when you've fished all night and caught nothing and are told to throw the net on the other side of the boat, giving the same confession will not be so easy. Nor when you're tempted to deny him. Nor when you're sinking in stormy waters in a panic.

The confession comes hard sometimes: when bills pile up, when an accident kills or maims, when you must forgive (but struggle with hate), when his leading entails risky choices. To say "You are the Christ" in the face of failure or under pressure from temptation is the place of real profession.

So Jesus will keep asking this question all through our lives, even when death comes knocking, looking for an answer that grows sturdier with every profession. Finally, our answer will be answered ... by a choir of ten thousand times ten thousand, and the testimony we hung onto in the trenches of life will become our song of triumph.

Call to Worship

As we are called into worship today it is sobering to remember that when God appeared on earth in the person of Jesus, most of the world did not recognize him and therefore did not worship him. Today we ask for the faith that will open our eyes to see Jesus for who he is, that we might worship him in truth. People of God, behold and see your God!

We open our eyes to see his glory. We open our ears to hear his wisdom. We open our hands to offer him gifts. We open our mouths to sing his praise. We open our hearts to offer him our love. He is Lord!

Prayer of Confession

Our Father, forgive us for downsizing you in our minds—for thinking small thoughts of you, and for ignoring your immensity and greatness. Lord Jesus, forgive us when we forget that you rule the nations and our small lives. Holy Spirit, we offend you in minimizing your power and squandering your gifts. We confess that our blindness to your glory O triune God, has resulted in shallow confession, tepid conviction, and only mild repentance. Have mercy upon us. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Psalms and Hymns

Psalm 33: "O Righteous, in the Lord Rejoice"
[PSH 449]

'At the Name of Jesus"
[PsH 467, PH 148, RL 336, TH 163]

"Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies"
[PsH 481, PH 462-463, RL 463, TH 398]

"Father, We Love You"
[PsH 634]

"For All The Saints"
[PsH 505, PH 526, RL 397, TH 358]

"He Is Lord" (see additional stanzas in RW22,p.44)
[PsH 633]

"How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds"
[PsH 487, RL 364, TH 647]

"I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say"
[PsH 488, TH 304]

"O Jesus, We Adore You"
[PsH 472, TH 255]

"Oh, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing"
[PsH 501, PH 466, RL 362-363, TH 164]

Ken Koeman is a pastor at Sonlight Community Christian Reformed Church, Lynden, Washington. You can reach him at


Reformed Worship 27 © March 1993, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.