Recently I was reading in Acts 22 where Paul powerfully recounts how he came to faith in Jesus Christ as he encountered the risen Lord on the road to Damascus. There the Lord asked him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” That question stopped Paul in his tracks.
And then I wondered, “What question would Jesus put to me today?” I could just imagine it, Lisa, Lisa, why are you (fill-in-the-blank)? That wasn't too hard for me to do. “Lisa, why are you being so faint-hearted? Lisa, why aren’t you trusting Me? Lisa, why are you looking to a change in your situation to bring you joy? Lisa, why are you discouraged?” And on it went.
It was a good exercise for my heart. There’s no hiding from the Lord; He always gets to the very core of the issue. Though I wasn’t the firsthand recipient of the Lord’s question, I was exactly where He wanted me to be when His question found its target in my heart. It was good to bring all my failures to Him, and then to reflect on His great faithfulness. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13).” For every one of my confessed failures, I then rejoiced in some aspect of the Lord’s character. “Lord, I am faint-hearted but Your Word tells me You will never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). Lord, You are so amazing! I am full of unbelief, yet You will still complete the work You began in me (Philippians 1:6). You are so kind! I am full of fear for the future, yet You have ordered every event and decreed every detail (Psalm 33:11; Job 42:2). I get so discouraged at times, yet that doesn’t put You off for you are near to the broken-hearted (Psalm 34:18).”
Jesus was a question asker and He used them to full advantage. We’ll look at a few of them here, but if you’d like a bigger list to pore over I found a nice collection here at this blog. Jesus’ perceptive use of questions can be found in His achingly honest exchange with Peter in John 21:15-17, “Do you love Me more than these?” (The “these” most likely refers to the fish Peter had just caught.) “Do you love Me?” “Do you like Me?” Each question probes deeper, fishing for the truth in the depths of Peter’s heart. How many of us have been caught by those barbed-hook questions! They sting, but oh, how we have benefitted from them.
In John 14 Jesus readies His disciples for His death, comforting them with the knowledge that He is going to prepare a place for them in heaven. The dialogue quickly jumps into a discussion about Jesus’ oneness with His Father. In verse 8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?" Poor Jesus, how bewildered He is at times by our blindness and unbelief. “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me?” Why is it—how is it that you still don’t really know Me, trust Me, understand Me?
Jesus’ question in Matthew 20:32 to the two blind men calling out to Him for mercy endears Him all the more to our aching hearts—“What do you want Me to do for you?” Imagine Omnipotent Power, Magnificent Wisdom, and Abounding Love asking, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind men boiled it down to the essentials, “We want to see.” Eternal Wisdom and Unfailing Compassion answered with far more than physical sight, for light dawned in their hearts as well. Gone are the inconsequential, worldly, rather foolish desires; only the essential remains when Jesus asks, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
Jesus confronts worry in Luke 12:25-26: “And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?” Enough said. Why are you worrying?
With fierce winds assailing them and mighty waves threatening to swamp their little boat the disciples cried out for the sleeping Jesus to wake up for they were “perishing!” A new tempest erupted in their thoughts when all became calm after Jesus spoke to the storm (Luke 8:22-25). Jesus sought to loosen their white-knuckled grip on this world and transfer it to Him, which is why Jesus asked, “Where is your faith?” Oh my! What a question! Where is my faith? More often than not I cry out like that desperate father who asked Jesus to heal his son in Mark 9:24, “I do believe; help my unbelief!” Child, where is your faith today? Is it in someone else, some change of circumstance, some event? Or is your faith in Me?
Jesus’ questions make us squirm. His questions reveal the truth about our hearts and where we place our hope. His questions reveal our true allegiances and bring our motives to light. Three times in the book of Revelation Jesus is described as having “eyes like a flame of fire.” Those brightly searching eyes burn through our excuses and our posturing to reveal what’s really going on in our hearts. Coming face to face with the questions Jesus’ asks us leads us to repentance and on to faith, hope, and restoration.
The author of Hebrews understands this process when he describes God’s Word and it’s power to reveal, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:12-13).” Though we are stripped of our pretense, we are not left to our own devices. The author of Hebrews goes on to encourage us with these words, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).”
No matter what question the Lord is asking you today, remember you can draw near to Him. He searches your heart to restore you, to heal you, to sanctify you.