Summary: If the Lord were standing right here today and were to ask you the question, what would you say? This is the watershed question. What you think of Jesus is also a watershed in our lives. The Bible says which side of this question we land on determines

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Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister

First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO

The Big Question

Matthew 16:13-20

Introduction: Did you hear the one about the chauffer whose job it had been to drive a famous scientist to a series of presentations about a new discovery. After several days, the two began to become pretty good friends. This despite the fact that the scientist taught bio-chemistry at a major university and the chauffer hadn’t even finished high school. One day after about the twentieth presentation, the chauffer jokingly turned to the scientist and said, "Professor, I believe I’ve heard your speech so many times, I could give it myself.” “The professor smiled and said, "I’ll bet you $50 you can’t." "You’re on," said the chauffeur.

They stopped the car. The two exchanged suits. They arrived at the banquet. The chauffeur dressed in a tuxedo, sat at the head table. The professor, with chauffer’s cap in hand, sat quietly at the rear of the room. When it came time for the program, the emcee introduced the chauffer as the famous professor. He stood up and gave the speech flawlessly. There was a standing ovation when he was finished.

Afterwards the emcee walked to the lectern and said, "You know, we are so fortunate to have such a fine resource with us tonight, and since we have a little extra time, let’s have some questions and answers. The chauffeur stood there dumbfounded. He pondered the first question. He didn’t have a clue about the question much less the answer. He cleared his throat in nervousness. He thought and thought. He considered pretending he was sick. Then he had a better idea. He took a deep breath, stood as tall and straight as he could, stepped to the mic and said, "That’s just about the dumbest question I ever heard. In fact it is so dumb I bet even my chauffeur could answer it."

I have a question for you today. You are the only one who can answer it. You can’t hand it off to your chauffer or anyone else for that matter!

This question is an important one. Not all questions are. Some are trivial. How are you doing? What’s up? Both greetings don’t really expect an answer. Other questions are hard to answer. Every kid can tell you answering the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question is not always easy. I know a few adults who are still trying to figure that one out.

Other questions are more than hard. They are life changing. Everything turns on the answer. Even no answer speaks volumes. For example, the question “Will you marry me?” expects an answer. Yet even hesitating can be answer enough. The answer matters.

If you are working through the One Year Bible, you came across our question on Thursday. I hope you sensed the significance of the question. This passage is the continental divide of Matthew. Anyone who has driven in the Rockies has seen the signs marking the Continental Divide. The Divide is the geographical point separating the watersheds of the West. Theoretically, at least, if you could place a knife blade on the right spot in the mountains, a drop of water falling on the edge would split in two. One half will fall east. Eventually it would flow to the Missouri, Mississippi, and finally in the Gulf of Mexico. The other half would fall west. It might flow into the Snake River and then the Columbia and finally the Pacific.

Matthew’s Gospel divides here. This event happens six months before the end of Jesus’ life. But it takes place roughly in the middle of Matthew’s book. The first half builds toward this. All the teachings, every miracle, all the parables, the encounters with his disciples—each lead up to this. After this, every event, every conversation flows directly to the cross. This question is the turning point, the watershed. “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” Jesus asked.

If the Lord were standing right here today and were to ask you the question, what would you say? This is the watershed question. What you think of Jesus is also a watershed in our lives. The Bible says which side of this question we land on determines our values, our way of life, and our eternal destinies. Few questions matter as much.

A Perennial Question. This wasn’t the first time the question was asked. For thousands of years, the people of Israel had looked for a promised Messiah. The Old Testament contained hundreds of prophetic statements about someone who would come from heaven to deliver God’s people. The first statement came in the Garden of Eden shortly after Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit. God promised that one born of a woman would crush Satan (Gen 3:15). The Old Testament ends with the last promise. Malachi spoke of the Sun of Righteousness who would bring freedom to God’s people and a prophet who would prepare the way for him (Malachi 4:2-6).

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