By the Revd Dr Peter Sanlon
In the Gospels Jesus asked over 300 questions but only answered 8. A key way God meets us in Jesus is by asking us questions. When asked a questions we may be invited, challenged, provoked or examined. All this and more is achieved by Jesus questioning us. Famously Jesus asked ‘Who do you say I am?’ (Mark 8:29). There were many other questions asked by Jesus.
Sometimes his questions were sharp and offensive – ‘Are you so dull?’ (Mark 7:18) or ‘Do you still not understand?’ (Mark 8:21).
Other times they invite thoughtful reflection on theology: ‘How then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?’ (Matthew 26:54). As a child Jesus asked, ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’ (Luke 2:49). With reference to his death he asked, ‘Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?’ (Matthew 20:22).
Jesus could ask a question to draw out and nourish faith – ‘Do you believe this?’ (John 11:26) and ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ (Matthew 9:28)
Before Pilate Jesus asked, ‘Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?’ (Matthew 26:53)
Questions from Jesus could urge us to ponder the nature of our culture and world – ‘To what can I compare this generation?’ (Matthew 11:16)
Risen from the tomb Jesus continued to ask questions – ‘Why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’ (John 20:15) ‘Do you love me?’ (John 21:17)
Some of Jesus’ questions point forwards to the questions relevant to his future return – ‘When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’ (Lk. 18:8)
We might feel more in control and more comfortable asking God our questions – but responding to the questions Jesus has for us, is a key way of being strengthened for our journey to heaven. Our beliefs, convictions, response to grace – all these and much besides are clarified by pondering and answering our Lord’s questions.
Rev. Dr. Peter Sanlon is minister of Emmanuel Anglican Church, Tunbridge Wells: www.emmanuelanglican.uk