When God Asks A Question
by Impact Church
It’s common for people who suffer a difficult time or experience to ask, “God! Why is this happening?” That question is often a complaint and rarely gets an answer. The question can be the opening expression of a hurting heart that turns into a prayer. David’s prayer in Psalm 22 is the easiest to see: in verse 1 he cries out, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” By verse 19, David is petitioning God for deliverance, “hasten to my assistance…deliver my soul from the sword…save me from the lion’s mouth.” David takes comfort not that God immediately answered his prayer because God didn’t do that. Instead, David takes comfort in knowing that God knows his plight and hears his cry for help (22:24). Not until the last verse, 31, does David give us an indication that God answered him, “They will come and will declare His righteousness to a people who will be born that He has performed it.”
So, we complain, then we pray, there is a delay and we learn to trust and then in His goodness, God answers the prayer. Our faith in Him deepens. Our dependency upon Him grows. And our praise of His love extends into the assembly. We praise Him.
There is another very important communication form between God and His people. It doesn’t get as much attention but in the life of Jesus it is actually much more common. Jesus asks a question. Throughout the Gospels we repeatedly see Jesus asking questions of His disciples, His opponents, the generally inquisitive, and even His family. He asked a lot of questions. Sometimes people got the right answer. After asking the disciples who people were saying Jesus was, he asked the disciples who THEY thought he was and Peter rightly answered, “You are the Christ” (Mark 8:29). He would use a question to defend himself and win any argument as He did in Mark 12:15-17 with the Pharisees and Herodians: “What are you testing me? Bring me a denarius to look at. And they brought one. And He said to them, ‘Whose likeness and inscription is this?’ And they said ‘Caesar’s’.” He ended the inquisition with a bold statement destroying their attack and indicting the Pharisees: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s”.
Jesus asked heavy theological questions of those who studied the Hebrew Scriptures and they didn’t know how to respond. It’s easy to have the biblical facts and be able to recall things, but to have understanding and wisdom, especially when it comes to the revelation about God Himself, is more important. Jesus took what they had read and taught and turned them upside down with His questions.
He also asked simple observational questions. The kind of question that we might ask of the world we see around us. How many keys on a piano keyboard? How many seams on a baseball or how far from home to second base? Those kinds of data points seem to be just trivia and not worth much in the grand scheme of things. But what about those things lying around in our world that God might ask us about? Jesus once asked the disciples how many baskets of leftovers remained from the two feeding miracles in Mark. They correctly answered 12 and 7. He then asked, “Do you not yet understand?” (8:21). Then the episode is over. No explanation.
In John 6:5, we read, “Jesus therefore lifting up His eyes, and seeing that a great multitude was coming to Him, said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?’ “For no apparent reason Jesus singles out Philip to target him with a question. We read in verse 7 that Philip mustered an answer explaining that 200 denarii wouldn’t be enough to give everyone but a little. But in verse 6, John gives us the reason for Jesus’ question. A rare glimpse into the motivation behind the question. Verse 6 reads, “And this He was saying to test him; for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.” Jesus asked a question that prompted Philip to offer a solution that wouldn’t meet the needs of the people. Philip’s answer was the people will go hungry. His consideration of the question led him to calculate the resources needed and he said that it wasn’t enough. Apparently, Philip didn’t pass the test.
Jesus asked Philip the question to heighten the sense of insufficiency he felt. His close friend, Andrew produced a lad that had 5 loaves and 2 fish, but even that wasn’t enough. And then the miracle happened. Jesus, doing what He intended to do all along, multiplied the food in a banquet that fed 5,000 with 12 baskets leftover. An abundance that trumped Philip’s accounting and Andrew’s effort. Jesus didn’t tell them in advance what He was going to do. He asked questions about the situation to prepare them for something greater than their answers could imagine.
To the Doubting Thomas, Jesus would ask in John 20:29, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed?”
Do you know what Jesus said after that?