The other day, I heard someone say that Jesus asked 307 questions in the first 4 books of the Bible, but, of the 183 questions he was asked, he only directly answered three of them. Only three! I thought about this Bible fun fact a lot that day, wondering about Jesus’ teaching methods and his success as a disciple-maker. He was the greatest teacher, the perfect rabbi, the most effective communicator. His words changed everything, so why the lack of straight forward answers?
For one thing, like John said at the end of his gospel, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” Those numbers—307 and 183—may sound large, but I’m sure they’re just a drop in the bucket of the words that were said to Him and by Him.
Also, when I read the gospels and Jesus’ words to the people around Him—the ones who loved Him or were just curious about Him or absolutely despised Him—he may not have given them a “yes” or “no” answer to their queries, but He didn’t shy away from imparting instruction. Seventy or so times we see Jesus giving very candid and clear-cut commands. All of His instructions from “Abide in Me” to “Watch and Pray” show us that He wasn’t shirking the tough questions and tricky moral dilemmas. He knew His ministry would be relatively short, so He got busy saying what needed said.
The other conclusion I came to was that asking questions can be a holy and revealing exercise, but don’t expect to always get answers. This is especially true when our questions begin with the word why. When I ask God, “Why did you allow that disaster?” I may not get a response. But it’s still okay for me to ask. It’s part of a continual conversation I’m having with Him. So now, instead of asking “why?” I’m trying to work on asking a different question.
Author Jamie Winship says it this way: “There are very few times in scripture where God answers a ‘why’ question because the explanation is too great. However, God will always tell you what He wants you to know about something. But He's not obligated to explain Himself to you.” Winship recommends asking God, “What do you want me to know about what’s troubling me? What do you want me to know about my fear?”
This has shifted my conversations with God, and, to be honest, it’s taken me out of the driver’s seat—the spot where I was never actually meant to sit. It’s a lot harder for me to come to Him with a “Here’s what needs to happen, God…go ahead and bless my plans” when I’m asking Him to reveal what He wants me to know. Now I will have to do what Jesus commanded in Matthew 7: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
What do you want me to know, Lord?