Have you ever thought of the power of an appropriate question? It need not directly charge a person, nor need it appear threatening, nor pass judgment, but can reach the conscience and heart as the person seeks to answer. It causes persons to think. This technique is used many times in the scriptures. The most famous questions were those asked of Adam and Eve when they sinned. The first question “Where art thou?” is even deeper than “What is this that thou hast done?” It is instructive to see how God reaches them with a series of probing questions, Genesis 3:9-13. Their very excuses became their condemnation; God takes them up on their answers – “because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife …”
Perhaps one of the best known questions in the New Testament was directed by the Lord of glory to Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9 –“Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me?” This was to colour Paul’s ministry - Christ as head in glory, and the church, his body, here on earth.
A lesson in evangelizing is given by Philip in Acts 8:26-40. He joined the chariot of the Ethiopian and heard him reading from Isaiah, so Philip’s opening line was: “Do you understand what you are reading?” When speaking with persons, how important to listen to them first; ask questions to find out what is concerning them, and start from that point. Isn’t this much better than proceeding with one’s own pre-determined spiel?
In John 9 we have the case of the man who had been born blind, and was given his sight by Jesus. After he was cast out of the synagogue, the Lord found him and asked him if he believed on the Son of God. The answer the man gave displayed the work of God that was growing in him. It gave the Lord the opportunity to reveal himself to him.
The Lord questioned Peter three times regarding Peter’s love for him, in John 21:15-19. We might well say like Peter, “Lord you know the answer, you know everything”. And that is true. But it seems that such questions are needed to bring out our thoughts on the subject, or even to force us to think about it seriously. As we frame an answer, we must dig deep. What we say then shows where our heart is. “Out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks”. Such searching is in view of our being helped forward.
I used to wonder why the Lord asked the blind man near Jericho the question: “What wilt thou that I shall do to thee?” The answer seemed so obvious. Was there any other request that a blind man could make? Recently I have wondered whether “Lord, that my sins be forgiven” would have been a deeper, better request, than “Lord, that I may see”? The Lord granted him his request according to his faith.
God asked Job a long series of questions in Job chapters 38-41. It is worth reading these chapters to see how God managed Job. “Where were you when I founded the earth?” & etc. It was a very gracious way of bringing Job to feel his nothingness in the presence of God. It was the furnace of affliction, plus God’s speaking, directly and through Elihu, that resulted in Job learning both God and himself.
MM September 2007