Finding the answers
There are many questions in life. Where and to whom does one
go for answers? And what will you do when the answers are given?
Questions may deal with big issues or little issues. They can
be general or specific. They might be on several levels: national, state, local,
corporate, division, group, family or individual. But it's questions pertaining
to life and death that are usually the most pointed, pertinent and
A question can be simply seeking information, or it can be
aggressively challenging the status quo. It can be spontaneous, fluff, innocent,
irrelevant... or thoughtful, philosophical, provocative, penetrating. A question
can be a matter of form or procedure, or it can reflect a hunger and thirst for
the right things. Life-changing questions are the most exciting (and the most
dangerous), because their answers might convince a person to radically modify
his/her thinking and behavior.
The motive of the inquirer is important. Does the person (a)
really want to know? intend to do something with the answer? plan to change
his/her mindset and lifestyle? Or is the asking (b) merely academic, with no
intention of being convinced, much less converted? The fishermen from Galilee
illustrate the first kind of seeking, and the Jewish authorities the second.
Consider the record in John's Gospel. John the Baptist was
asking the right questions. He was privileged to baptize the Son of God and to
introduce him to Israel as the Lamb of God (John 1:29-34). Andrew was asking the
right questions. He was the first of the apostles to be convinced that Jesus was
the Messiah (John 1:35-42). Nathaniel asked good questions too, and was swiftly
convicted by Christ's answers (John 1:45-49). Nicodemus came by night with
questions, and his life was forever changed (John 3:1-15; 7:50,51; 19:38-40).
The Samaritan woman asked her questions at the well, and was persuaded that
Jesus was a prophet of God (John 4:7-30). When other disciples stopped following
Jesus because of his "hard sayings", Peter remained steadfast (John 6:60-69).
His words express the issue succinctly:
"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we have
believed, and come to know that you are the Holy One of
On the other hand, the Pharisees sought to challenge the
credentials and authority of Jesus repeatedly (eg, John 6:41,52,59; 7:14-52;
8:13-25; 10:24). But the record shows that they did not really want to know who
Jesus was, or where he came from, or the source of his teaching, or the
significance of his signs, or the consequence of their own closed minds. An
excellent example of their obtuseness is found in John 9:13-41, where they
refused to believe in the unmistakable witness of Jesus' healing of the man born
Herod and Pilate are two more examples of questioners who
really did not want an answer. They wanted compliance, not unyielding integrity.
They wanted submission, not unnerving courage. They wanted acknowledgement of
their power, not forthright truth. These presumptuous inquisitors refused to see
Jesus for what he was, even though all the legitimate evidence pointed in one
direction. The fate of these arrogant politicians was fitting. Pilate's career
went down the drain shortly thereafter, and Herod was "smitten by God... eaten
by worms, and died" (Acts 12:23) -- probably a very horrible death.
Do we really want to know the correct meaning of Scripture? If
yes, that means reading the text for ourselves, asking tough, relevant
questions, and heeding what we learn. Or are we content with the religion of our
parents, the interpretation of our church teachers, or the writings of popular
theological scholars? If yes, then there is no need to look or ask further --
but what a risk!
If our present understanding is correct, it will withstand any
reasonable investigation. We will be pleased that our faith has been reinforced.
And if our present understanding is found to be lacking, it can be improved. We
will be glad that we investigated and that we have the opportunity for
strengthening our faith. Either way, we benefit from "searching the Scriptures
daily, to see whether these things be so".