My cousin, John Luke Spitler, was in town from TX for my mom’s memorial service. I hadn’t seen him in eight years! It was great to be together. An extrovert, his presence added a lot of energy to our family moments as we were all sitting in our family room together or as we were collected around the table for a meal. I remember taking note that he had mastered the art of asking good questions. Thought probing questions. Questions that led to deeper discussion. Questions that prompted revelation and thought beyond the moment. We definitely explored diverse topics and in greater dimension because of his ability to ask good questions. I got to know members of my own family better because of the skillful questions he asked.
As I reflected on that, I thought to myself, “I wonder what kind of questions Jesus asked?” It didn’t take me long to find out first that Jesus asked lots of questions, far more than He answered. I believe I read that He only answered 8 of the questions that were asked of Him, but several authors I read reported that Jesus asked 339 questions, and those are the only ones that are recorded for us to review! He was skillful in the way He asked them. His timing and prowess were impeccable. He wasn’t just shooting the breeze or talking to talk. He wasn’t looking to have a talk-off, Pastor David. He wasn’t simply making conversation. No, through His skillful line of questioning, He was seeking to bring greater revelation to those who would pause to consider what was really being asked. Through His questions, He was leading them to understand something they hadn’t yet considered or embraced. He was bringing great clarity to them by asking questions.
I want to look at a couple of the questions He asked folks to see what takeaways there might be for us to consider for ourselves and as we look for those who need to be introduced to Jesus. If they were good questions for Jesus to ask, perhaps they would be good for us to ask as well.
The first category of questions I want us to consider are questions of invitation.
John 1:35-42 35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
Something I must point out is that John had already referred to Jesus as the Lamb of God in verse 29. He made the declaration again the next day. It leads me to believe that John was consistently, regularly, even though it is early in Jesus’ ministry, he was making Jesus a topic of conversation. Jesus was the subject of John’s conversation. Two days in a row, He inserted Jesus into a conversation. By calling Jesus the Lamb of God, John was saying, “This is the One who has come to die for the sins of the world.” John was already calling attention to the cross long before Jesus ever mentioned it. As we move on in the story, we come upon Jesus’ question.
37 The two disciples heard him (John the Baptist) say this, and they followed Jesus.
38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?”
I love this question. What are you seeking? Why are you following Me? What are you looking for that you think I can provide? There could be many reasons people follow Jesus. Were they hoping Jesus could shed new light on the laws the religious leaders had developed? Were they hoping He was their gateway to power? Did they suspect He was a political leader and military commander who would smash Rome’s occupying power? Were they humble men of prayer who were seeking to know God better? If Jesus was good enough for John to follow, were they simply checking Him out for themselves? Were they hoping Jesus had answers for their daily life? Were they bored with John’s leadership so they thought they would give Jesus a try to bring some zest to their spiritual life? Did they really know what it meant that they had turned to follow the Lamb of God?
It was a great question that Jesus asked…”What are you seeking?” It is important to know who you are following. It is important, also, to know why you are following them.
I suppose the answer to the question, “What are you seeking?” determines who you choose to follow. Are you seeking security? If so, you will probably try to acquire a position that is safe and steady, one with an income that can provide for your earthly needs. Not a bad thing to seek. We have needs that have to be met. The problem with that approach, with seeking security, is that there is no true security in this life. The money in your 401K could be gone tomorrow. Some of you know what I’m talking about. The job you have today, could be on the chopping block tomorrow. Some of you have just submitted prayer requests for that very reason. Your ability to make money today could be compromised by a health crisis tomorrow. Some of you are living with that reality. If your highest priority is security, you will always be chasing it and never finding it.
Some people are searching for significance, for acceptance. We all have a need to be loved, to know that our lives matter for sure. But if your highest priority is seeking significance and acceptance from the people of this world, you will do whatever it takes, or at least more than you ever expected to do, to acquire it.
Some are searching for selfish gain or glory, wanting power, prestige and position with an ever-increasing lust for more. Their competitive spirit, their desire to be number one, creates a path for them as they pursue the things they think will hand them those things and more. There are all kinds of people who will schmooze and buddy up to people in positions of power just so that they can gain access to what they perceive is the ladder of success.
You see, what you are searching for determines Who you will follow. It was a REALLY good question that Jesus asked.
Listen to the rest of the story: And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher),
This answer, the way they addressed Jesus as “Rabbi” indicates an understanding that Jesus had spiritual wisdom to impart. They had something to learn from Him that they couldn’t learn by following anyone else.
“Where are you staying?” they asked Jesus. They weren’t merely curious to know if He had found a good bed and breakfast somewhere. No, they wanted to follow Him beyond the moment. They didn’t want this encounter to make them simply acquaintances of Jesus. They didn’t want a passing word with Jesus. They wanted to know Him. They wanted to understand what He was all about.
39 Jesus said to them, “Come and you will see.” If you are looking for a Savior, someone to take care of your sin burden, someone to wash you clean and give you a fresh start, an experience that will make you new, from the inside out, if that is what you are seeking, you will find it when you accept Jesus’ invitation to “come and see.”
So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.[j] 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus[k] was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter[l]). ESV
One of the two men who followed Jesus and spent the day with Him was Andrew. He went and got his brother, Simon, who became known as Peter, and brought him to Jesus. Notice, that after a day with Jesus, Andrew exclaimed, “We have found the Messiah.” Andrew was searching for the Messiah. Andrew needed a Messiah. That’s why he chose to follow Jesus. When He met Jesus, he recognized Who He was because salvation was what He was searching for. What you are searching for determines who you follow to find it.
By the way, when you get Jesus, you get the rest of the stuff, too. Security, significance and satisfaction flow into your life when Jesus is at the head of your life. That is the Matthew 6:33 principle. I like to call it the “Alignment Principle.” When you align your life with Jesus and His desires for you, when that is what you seek, everything you need and more flows into your life.
The truth is, we are all seeking God. We just don’t all know it. I was blessed to find the satisfaction that comes from finding Christ early in life. I didn’t long for worldly things because Jesus filled my heart and fulfilled me while I was just a child. Sometimes, however, people don’t find the Lord until they have sought after a lot of other stuff. Stuff that leaves them heartbroken. Stuff that destroys many parts of their lives. The earlier we can help people seek Jesus, the more we will spare them unnecessary heartache.
The Psalmist said in Psalm 63:1, You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.
We were made for a relationship with God. We were made with a longing in our hearts for Him. We were made with a void that only He can fill. It doesn’t matter what we try to fill that void with, whether sexual experimentation, video games, drugs and alcohol, money, social media, relationships, or some-kind-of worldly success…until that void is met by the Lord, we will live with a hole in our heart, an ache for something more. The Psalmist, David, realized that God was what he needed, what he could not live without.
The question isn’t if we are seeking, but who or what we are seeking after. 2 Chronicles 26:5 says, “He (Uzziah) sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper.”
As long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper. If you want to prosper, in every way, seek the Lord.
How many of you remember the show, “Gilligan’s Island?” I read about a man who looked at his life and concluded that he was just like the Professor on Gilligan’s Island. The Professor knew how to turn banana peels into diesel fuel, and he could take algae and make chocolate fudge, but he never got around to fixing that hole in the boat so he could get off the island. Don’t ignore the hole in your boat! Don’t ignore the hole in your heart! Seek the Lord. Let Him fill the hole in your heart and fill your life to overflowing.
What are you seeking this morning? Ask “the one” you have been praying for, what they are seeking. Post the question on your social media. I guarantee you that if the answer is healing from the brokenness of sin, Jesus is the answer for that. If it is healing for damaged relationships, Jesus is the answer for that. If it is productivity, direction, or even any kind of financial supply that is needed, Jesus is the answer for all of those things.
One more Scripture as it relates to the question, “What are you seeking?” Psalms 34:10, “The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.” (NKJV)
Those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing. Are you missing any good thing? The Bible says if you seek the Lord, you shall not lack any good thing in your life.
Many questions Jesus asked were also questions about life and faith. We tend to talk about the things happening in the world, where to find the easiest crockpot recipe, the insane amount of money Joe Burrow is now making, who we might talk to, to get our kids the extra help we need in school, or what the latest life hack, the newest cleaning hack is. Those are all routine and good questions, but if we miss talking about faith, we miss talking about the most important thing.
Jesus asked questions that got people thinking beyond their flesh and beyond this world. Here is a good one He asked in Matthew 16:26, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
That question goes a little deeper than, “What do you want for dinner or where do you see yourself in five years?” The easy answer is, “no good.” It would do no good to gain the whole world if it means you lose your soul. This world is temporary. Our soul is eternal. It’s not a fair trade to give up your soul for the experiences the world offers.
While the answer to the question is “obvious” Jesus wasn’t asking them a question to see if they could get it right. He wasn’t prepping them for a round of Jeopardy. He was asking them to consider whether they were currently forfeiting their soul by living for the things this world can offer. Is your soul in jeopardy right now for any reason?
You see, faith in Jesus is more than belief. The demons know who Jesus is. They know the truth about Him, and they believe it. We probably don’t often spend time thinking about what we are living for. We have desires. We act on those. We make plans. We execute those. We have goals. We work to meet them. We have impulses. We often gratify them. We are easily influenced by the power of suggestion. We could be totally full after having eaten a large meal, but the DQ commercial calls us to have a “happy ending” to the evening with a hot fudge sundae, and before we know it, the car keys are in our hand, and we are at the drive-thru window not really even conscious of having driven there! It doesn’t take a lot, sometimes, to get us to act or react without considering, “Does this line up with what I am living for?”
Do you think about the life you are building, the legacy you are leaving, the faith you are demonstrating? Do you consider the condition of your soul and how the habits of your life fortify or compromise it? Daily, we can either focus on and feed our flesh or we can focus on and fuel our faith. Are you conscious that Jesus has an opinion about every decision you make, about every activity you engage in? What would your answer be to the question, What are you living for?
It’s a great question because it beckons us to examine every area of our lives. What populates our social media content? How do we spend our money? Who are the people we hang with and what do our get-togethers look like? What websites have we frequented this past month? What are we willing to sacrifice for? Where are we spending our time? How do those choices reflect if we are living for Jesus or if we are living for the world, or the moment or even if we are living for the devil? What is most important to you? Is it earthly success or spiritual success?
Living for Jesus involves sacrifice. It includes intention. We have to daily seek to follow Him, to daily look to Him for instruction, for inspiration, for power to live a godly life, a life that will take us beyond this life.
We’re all familiar with the concept of sacrifice. With every decision we make, we are sacrificing other outcomes for the outcome we choose. When we can’t afford the house of our dreams, but we purchase it anyway, we are sacrificing peace of mind and the ability to live life freely in other ways. When we overextend ourselves and allow our lives to be driven by busy schedules, we sacrifice rest, effectiveness, margin, and peace. I suppose an additional question to consider in addition to “What are you living for” is “Is it worth it?” If it sets a bad example for others, is it worth it? If it costs you your integrity, is it worth it? If you have to hide it from your spouse, is it worth it? If it requires risking your job, is it worth it? If it means you don’t have time to serve the Lord, is it worth it? If it takes you away from your family, is it worth it? If it cost you your friendships, is it worth it? What are you living for, AND is it worth it?
The famous missionary, Jim Elliot had it right when he said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Jim Elliot had found faith in Jesus Christ worth it. He found Jesus worth living for. He found that the things of the world which will fade, which will spoil, which lose their value when you drive them off of the lot, which won’t last beyond this life (if they last for more than a few years) he found them worth giving up in order to gain Christ. The Apostle Paul put it this way, “For me to live is Christ.”
Jim Elliot and the Apostle Paul didn’t come to those conclusions simply from hearing someone else talk about Jesus, but they came to the conclusion because they met Jesus personally and gave Him the opportunity to reveal Who He is, why He came, and how He could change their lives for the better.
As I begin a new series on the Questions of Jesus, I want to invite you to answer Jesus’ questions personally. Answer as if He was asking each of us the same questions, He asked His followers in the Bible. Be honest. Today, Jesus is asking you what are you seeking and what are you living for?