Albert Einstein famously said, “Question everything,” but it was Jesus who practiced what Einstein preached. Contrary to popular assumptions, Jesus was not a robotic Answer Man; he was more like the Great Questioner. According the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), Jesus asks over 300 questions during his earthly ministry. Surprisingly, he answers only three. That’s quite a ratio, but it aligns with the m.o. of Yahweh in the Old Testament. God was known for asking his people lots of questions, too. Like Father like Son.
Now, if omniscience asks questions, it’s not to ellicit information; it’s to reveal it. In everyday life, our responses to the questions put to us have a way of exposing our hopes, fears, values, passions, and aspirations. They unveil our muddled thinking and our gaps in understanding. They demonstrate our innovation and creativity. They uncover our souls, for as Jesus said, “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34).
Asking questions can unlock learning and enhance interpersonal bonding, provided they’re not impossible “gotcha” questions designed to intimidate or humiliate (e.g., “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”). Jesus doesn’t work for cable news. He works for his heavenly Father, who deeply desires a relationship with every human being, his highest order of creation. Since relationships by nature are dynamic and reciprocal, questions are part of the interaction between God and humanity. There’s give-and-take and back-and-forth—a rhythm of genuine conversation allowing both parties to play the role of a subject, not merely an object.
Writing for the Harvard Business Review, Alison Wood Brooks and Leslie K. John have noted, “The wellspring of all questions is wonder and curiosity and a capacity for delight. We pose and respond to queries in the belief that the magic of a conversation will produce a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Sustained personal engagement and motivation—in our lives as well as our work—require that we are always mindful of the transformative joy of asking and answering questions.”
God doesn’t ask questions because he needs to know. He asks questions to reveal and relate. Yes, we might have some questions for God in the life to come—who doesn’t?—but God has some questions for us in the life we have right now. Why not spend some time relating to him over some of the questions he’s already asked?
Questions God may ask us about our EMOTIONAL life.
- “Why are you angry?” (Gen 4:6b)
- “Why are you crying?” (John 20:15b)
- “If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest?” (Luke 12:26)
Questions God may ask us about our THOUGHT life.
- “Have you never read the Scriptures?” (Matt 21:42a)
- “Why are you thinking such things in your heart?” (Mark 2:8b)
- “Do you not yet understand?” (Matt 16:8)
- “Are even you likewise without understanding?” (Mark 7:18)
Questions God may ask us about our PHYSICAL life.
- “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Cor 6:19a)
- “Do you want to be well?” (John 5:6b)
- Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? (Isaiah 55:2)
- “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:36a)
Questions God may ask us about our INTERPERSONAL life.
- “What are you discussing as you walk along?” (Luke 24:17)
- “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man?” (Luke 10:36a)
- “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8b)
- “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” (Matt 5:46)
Questions God may ask us about our SPIRITUAL life.
- “Where are you?” (Gen 3:9)
- “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” (Gen 3:11b)
- “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen 18:14)
- “What is your name?” (Gen 32:27a)
- “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I command?” (Luke 6:46)
- “Do you love me?” (John 21:16)
Questions God may ask us about our MISSIONAL life.
- “Whom shall I send?” (Isa 6:8b)
- “What is that in your hand?” (Exod 4:2b)
- “How many loaves do you have?” (Mark 8:5)
- “Are there not twelve hours in a day?” (John 11:9)
- “Do you see this woman?” (Luke 7:44b)
Maybe the most all-encompassing question God could ask us is this one: “Where have you come from, and where are you going?” (Gen 16:8b). Certainly the most important question he could ask was raised by his Son, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matt 16:15). The two questions are actually related.
So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a seat, and “have a little talk with Jesus,” as the old gospel song puts it.