Do you have any movies, shows, or books that keep you coming back for more? Is there a plot that could go either way? Is your engagement heightened because you can’t wait to find out what’s going to happen? How about your kids? Do they have book series they pre-order to find out what happens next?
Have you ever engaged with your kids in a “who done it” type of discussion? Do you ask your children questions like: Why do you think that? What makes you say that? Where’s the evidence for the side you are taking?
We should ask our kids questions about Church that raise their interest and engage their thinking. These questions should not be based on what they thought about the performance or the gossip that could be shared after the last “Amen” is said. Instead, the gathering of God’s people should gradually elevate the curiosity of the attenders causing them to continually look for the evidence to what they think about the whole thing and how it will conclude for them.
Jesus introduced this idea of the cliffhanger experience. It picks up in Matthew 16. Jesus polled his associates for how people answered the question, “Who do people say that I am?” Jesus heard the variety of opinions. Then, he specifically asked his associates the same question. The most outspoken of all his disciples, Peter, answered without batting an eye saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
This response caused Jesus to pronounce a blessing upon Peter. God had opened his understanding and it had not come because of any human nature or any violent act. The living God had made Peter aware of this accurate assessment of Jesus.
Have you ever watched a movie with someone else and while you saw the direction the move was taking, the other person didn’t? You believed the story would turn out a certain way. The movie watcher with you didn’t get it, no matter how much you tried to give all your reasons. This was Peter. He saw who Jesus really was. His opinion was accurate. Whereas others who held opinions, didn’t have the accurate opinion. The Bible doesn’t record any of the other disciples’ responses.
We pick back up in Matthew 16 — Peter has confessed to Jesus who he believes Jesus really is. Jesus congratulates Him and tells Peter this understanding is straight from God. This is the cliffhanger. Here’s where the plot thickens. Jesus calls Peter by his birth name, Simon son of Jonah/Jonas and changes his name to Peter. Peter (petros) means “little rock”. It means something able to be thrown or tossed. Jesus declares upon this rock (petra), I will build by church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
Jesus was telling Peter, he was able to be thrown and tossed. He was stating the cliffhanger of the assembly of his people would be built on a truth that would never be thrown or tossed. The truth was the petra which is a boulder, a cliff, a large mass of a rock. It was too large for anything to prevail against it. Even the dead and everything that arises from evil would not have any authority over this rock (petra) Jesus would build His church on.
The cliffhanger Jesus introduced in Matthew 16 is the question, “Who do you say Jesus is?” This is what keeps people coming back, engaging their interest, and increasing their attention to church. Jesus said it was the answer to this question that would grow His church. His people would assemble for a greater understanding of who Jesus is. They would be interesting in gathering facts that help them form an accurate conclusion. Attendees would be engaged in correctly responding to answer the question “Who do I say Jesus is?”
When we can engage our children to be able to accurately answer and keep enforcing an accurate answer to the one cliffhanger question, “Who do you say Jesus is?”; then they will be excited about going to church. Their interest will be engaged and their curiosity heightened to make them keep coming back to gather more evidence to support their opinion. They won’t be able to wait to engage again to get more facts to rest their case on.
Let’s consider engaging our children in one question, “Who do you say Jesus is?” Then, take them to church to watch them investigate, build supporting evidence, form their opinion, and come to their conclusion. Let church be a cliffhanger experience for your children. It is on the answer to this question, Jesus builds His assembly of believers.
Dear Father, reveal the answer to this question to all who love you and seek you with all their hearts, minds, soul, and strength. Enable them to answer accurately and make these souls part of your assembly that will dwell with you forever in your Kingdom. Amen.
Written By: Anne W. Gurley