In the Gospels, Jesus always asked interesting questions. Do you also want to leave? (Jn. 6:67) What do you want me to do for you? (Lk.18.41) Do you love me? (Jn.21.17) What are you looking for? (Jn.1:38) Do you not yet understand or comprehend? (Mk.8.18) Do you want to be healed? (Jn.5.6). Now originally, Jesus asked these questions of those individuals who came to him with a concern or question, or who wanted him to do something for them. I believe, though, that these are also questions Jesus asks of all of us who are his followers.
Now the questions Jesus asked are not only very interesting, they are also very important. They are the questions we each need to consider as we seek to follow Jesus. As important as these questions are, though, I think equally important are how we answer them. For our answers remind us that in terms of following Jesus, while we know in broad terms what is required of us i.e. we are called to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves, the specifics of how we are called to live this out will vary with each individual.
For example, the question “What do you want me to do for you?” will have a unique answer for each of us. Some people may be looking for guidance, others assurance, others friendship; still others, healing or hope. And, while our answers may change as our life situation changes, the questions don’t.
Being like us in all things but sin, Jesus knew our human needs, wants and longings. And he also knew that ultimately the answer to our deepest needs, wants, and longings—the answer to all our questions is to be found only in God. So Jesus continually asked questions that invited us to look beyond our limited horizon and to recognize and respond to God’s presence and to be open to the grace that God is always offering us.
As I said above, the questions Jesus asked in the Gospels are not only interesting, they are important. They are the questions for each of our lives. They challenge us to go beyond the surface, to dive deep, and to recognize our fundamental and abiding need for God in our lives. More importantly, they invite us to recognize that ultimately it is God and God alone who is the answer to our deepest wants, needs and longings.
As we begin this new year, let us ponder the questions Jesus asks. And more importantly, let us pray that we might be more and more open to realizing that ultimately God is the answer to these and to all our questions.