Today: Thursday, November 21, 2019

Jesus the questioner    (7/5/2015 1)

"You are old, Father William," the young man said, 
"And your hair has become very white; 
And yet you incessantly stand on your head - 
Do you think, at your age, it is right?"

So begins a nonsense poem Alice is required to recite in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.

Four questions later: 

"I have answered three questions, and that is enough,"
said his father; "Don't give yourself airs! 
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff? 
Be off, or I'll kick you downstairs!"

But we do need to ask questions, and we do need to have answers—though it can sometimes try the patience of the person on the receiving end.

We don't know what questions Jesus was asking as a three-year-old, but we do know that, when he was twelve, his parents were astonished to find him asking questions in the temple. And he was still asking questions at the end of his ministry.

But people also asked questions of him; sometimes they were trying to catch him out; sometimes they genuinely wanted answers. In reply, he often did one of two things—he told a story, or he asked a question back.

The stories he told were simple and memorable: about the seed the farmer sowed (Luke [NT], chapter 8, verses 4-8); about the traveller ambushed on his way to Jerusalem (Luke, chapter 10, verses 25-37); about the rebellious son who left home and mis-spent his inheritance (Luke chapter 15, verses 11-33). But even these 'story-answers' raise questions. What did he mean? What does the story mean for my life?

But over and over again, Jesus asked a question back, as if to say, 'What do you think?' or, 'What do you want me to do for you?' or 'Who do you believe I am?' He pushed people to do some thinking for themselves; left them with ideas to go on exploring, perhaps for the rest of their lives.

When he hung dying on the cross, he cried out his own most painful and profound question: 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' In those final moments it seemed as though God had deserted his own son, and left him to die alone and in aWhy mught Jesus gony. But the answer to that question only came later, when he was raised from death (a clear sign that he had not finally been abandoned) and when his followers came to see that the darkness of separation from God was the price he paid to carry the sins of the world.

And that, too, leads to more questions, as Jesus asks us now: ‘Will you receive God's love shown through the cross? Will you accept the forgiveness which my death made possible?'

There was one other vital question that came very shortly after the resurrection, and which Jesus put three times to Peter, one of his closest followers. Peter had let him down and, under pressure, denied that he knew him. But Jesus simply asked of Peter, ‘Do you love me?'

We, too, may have many questions to ask of Jesus. But the most important thing is that we hear the questions he puts back to us, and that we make our own response.

Pray: Lord Jesus, help me to find answers to the questions that haunt me. And where the questions are too big for answers I could cope with, help me to trust that you have the answers. Help me then to answer the questions you put to me with, faith and courage – yes Lord, I receive your love; yes Lord, I accept your forgiveness; yes Lord, I love you.

Think about
: When people asked him a question, why might Jesus have responded with a question of his own?

Challenge: What would YOU ask Jesus?

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