A popular slogan tell us that "Christ is the answer." If that means "Christ is the solution," then well and good. But the slogan may delude us into the false hope that we creatures are allowed to define the questions on our own sinful terms, thus placing Him at our beck and call. Today's Gospel passage from Matthew 22 teaches us that at the end of the day, Christ for us is not the answer but rather He is the question we must face.
Matthew's 22nd chapter gives us a long dialogue from which we read only the conclusion. The critics of Jesus, Pharisees, Sadducees, scholars of the Scriptures, were all trying to entrap Jesus with various questions. They asked Him all sorts of things, about taxes, about the afterlife, and about which commandment is the most important. "They were astonished at His teaching," as well they should have been.
Then Jesus turned the tables and confronted His opponents with a question of His own. He was not trying to win a debate nor to humiliate them with His cleverness (Jesus was never an intellectual bully), but to direct them to a question far more important, a question we must also give answer to, a question on which eternity hangs. "What think ye of the Christ? whose Son is he?"
That was a question which made the Pharisees, Sadducees and scholarly detractors of Jesus wiggle in discomfort. They did not like discussions of "the Christ," particularly if any Romans were listening. "The Christ" meant the Messiah, a term fraught with sensitive political overtones. Discussions of "the Christ" still have a way of making people uncomfortable. While the name of our Saviour can be widely used as an oath or a swear-word, we do not bring Him up as a topic of polite conversation. Especially in a group of religious people.
So Jesus still catches our eye, confronts us, disregards our frivolous questions and forces the real issue with us: "What think ye of the Christ?" We may be obliged to say, "I am not sure." Or we may try to respond, "Why do you ask that?" The truth may be, "I do not think of Him at all."
When Jesus asked, "Who do ye say that I am, we know the answer Simon Peter gave, "Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God." But sometimes a right answer is not enough, for Jesus still found need to ask him, "Simon, bar-Jonah, lovest thou me?" Jesus, son of David and Son of God, remains the ultimate and abiding question. Do we love Him "with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind?" Will we follow Him "whithersoever He goeth?"