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INTRODUCTION: THE QUEST(ION) OF GOD
In an episode recorded in all three synoptic gospels, Jesus once asked his disciples: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Matt. 16:13). The Matthean version continues as follows: “And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God’” (16:14–16). Jesus went on to tell Peter that this was revealed to him by his Father in heaven, and that the disciples must keep quiet about Jesus' identity, since he must first go to Jerusalem to suffer, die, and then be raised from the dead.
Christian faith hinges on the identity of Jesus Christ. While people across the centuries have acknowledged Jesus as a significant historical figure, a good teacher, or a moral example, the Christian creedal tradition has followed in the wake of Peter's confession: Jesus of Nazareth is the long-expected messiah who fulfills OT hopes, yet who does so in a most unexpected way: as the Son of God, veritable God in the flesh, he suffers the powers of death in order to inaugurate a new creation.
For the Christian, the quest(ion) of God cannot be pursued apart from the drama surrounding Jesus Christ. This “Christ event” – Christ's incarnation, life, ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection – represents a surprising culmination of the OT portrayal of God.