Column – A Quiz For Suffolk

Published 5:31 pm Tuesday, September 5, 2023

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As we are now back to school, I’ve been thinking about all those involved in education. Praying for their safety and success. 

It’s a tough job, but few things are more noble pursuits than the education of others. 

In the past, I taught math for six years at Kings Fork Middle School. It gave me experiences, and education, that will last my lifetime. Having gone through somewhere around 23 years of school now. I’ve seen and written my share of questions. Homework, in class, bellringer assignments, quizzes, exams and so on. From the 50/50 odds of true or false questions, to multiple choice, essays in blue books, and figuring out solutions to differential equations — today I would not even know how to read those. 

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There’s an art to the way questions are written. Not paying attention to how they are asked could lead you down the wrong path in your answer. 

In the lesson given by the master teacher, Jesus, in Matthew 16: 13-20, He asks questions in just the way you should. 

Simple enough to understand, and yet, not without needed rigor. The kind of questions that you can answer quickly, if you choose. They could be discussed among a group to do what the best questions do- they go beyond assessing knowledge, and create an opportunity for increased learning. Which, in the end, is the goal of education. 

His first question, “Who do people say the son of man is?” gets responses from much of the class. His second question, though asked to all of them, is recorded as only answered by Simon Peter. 

Simon Peter answered him with what seems to be an answer Jesus is very satisfied with in content, but there also seems to be an element where Jesus says, ”Hey, you are blessed, not just because you got the right answer, but because I know that God, the Father in Heaven, gave it to you.” 

God has answered many things for me, but not all. Yet, I’m learning to become more appreciative of the questions I’ve been led to explore, than the answers I think I find. Questions that lead me to transformation. I’m blessed to have been transformed, and to continue being transformed.

There’s something about this interaction that may be missed. 

Jesus asks the questions, both of them, to the group. Though we only know of Simon Peter’s response, the questions were asked to the community of his closest students, friends, and disciples, as many of us strive to be.  

How we answer these questions as individuals is interesting and somewhat important. I believe the far more interesting, educational and engaging responses to Jesus are our communal responses. In our words, and in our actions as the wider Church, as a city of many faiths, ever evolving, and constantly learning. Don’t just answer these questions yourselves, or within your Christian gatherings. Ask them of your non-Christian neighbors. Find out what they think, and listen with an understanding heart, and open ears. 

Suffolk, who do we say Jesus is? What do our neighbors, whom we are commanded to love, think?

May our answers to these questions never cease to flow in loving ways from our mouths, our hands, our feet, and our hearts. 


The Rev. Jason Stump is pastor of Oakland Christian United Church of Christ in Suffolk. He can be reached at