I was once asked to visit a lady in her early forties who was dying of cancer. She was the neighbour to one of our church members. She had no church connection but was interested in having me do her funeral as she only had weeks to live. I knew her Christian neighbour had shared Jesus with her over the years. During our first visit together, I asked how she was preparing for death. She shared her version of heaven and what she believed it would be like.
During our conversation, I asked what she thought about Jesus. “Please don’t talk to me about Jesus,” she said. “I believe in God or something like him but Jesus, I don’t think I can believe in him. I have my own beliefs. I have been a good person and I plan to be in heaven.” During her last few weeks, she remained closed to hearing anything about Jesus. It was a hard funeral to lead.
Luke tells us that one day Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” (Luke 9:18) There were a variety of answers like John the Baptist or Elijah. Then Jesus asked them a more pointed question, “But who do you say that I am?” (Luke 9:20)
That’s the question the dying lady refused to answer. Ignoring the question doesn’t make it irrelevant or less important. It is the key question every one of us must answer. Who do we think Jesus really is? What do we believe about him? Eternity depends on our answer and how we act on that.
Some people refuse to consider Jesus. Others decide he was only a teacher or a good person and appreciate his wisdom but don’t become followers. Many wrestle with the gospel stories and New Testament teaching and decide that Jesus is the “Christ of God,” the saviour of humanity. If we believe that, then we must put our faith in him for our life here and the life to come.
Some individuals have concluded that Christianity is about a lifestyle, a series of moral choices and behaviours that make someone acceptable before God. If they live a good enough life, they will go to heaven. But the real question, the first question, is about Jesus. Who do you believe him to be? If we believe he is the saviour, God in the flesh, and he came to save us from our sins, then we need to accept this truth. This is what makes us acceptable in God’s sight. No amount of good works or moral living will get us into heaven. Instead, as a result of being accepted and loved by God, we choose to live a life that is pleasing to him.
Don’t find yourself on your deathbed wondering if you lived a ‘good enough’ life. Jesus did that for us. The important consideration will be whether or not you answered one question correctly and then responded to it. Who do you say Jesus is?