As we read the stories of Jesus, it’s easy to recognize the wisdom of his words, the compassion in his voice, the authority in his choice of language. But Jesus has an odd quality about him as well. Frequently, he asked the most patently obvious, obtuse question to his friends and to the people seeking him out. Consider these curious examples:
To two disciples of John the Baptist semi-stalking Jesus after the famous prophet declared him nothing less than ‘The Lamb of God’: “Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them. (John 1:38 NLT)
To a blind man: "What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him. The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see." (Mark 10:51 NIV)
To the fully-armed palace guards there to arrest him in the garden, “Whom do you seek?” (John 18:4 NASB)
To a frightened and confused Mary Magdalene outside the empty tomb: “She turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” (John 20:15 ESV)
Really, Jesus? You don’t know what the blind man wants from you? You don’t know those guards are there to arrest you? You don’t know why Mary’s crying? Come on, man…
Since we all intuitively know that Jesus is a smart and savvy customer, (and since he surely knows the answer BEFORE he asks the question) why would he ask such apparent and borderline absurd questions?
The answer is it’s for our benefit, not his. It’s so we can REALLY know what we want.
We humans aren’t as sophisticated as we like to imagine. Generally we are hard-headed and self-defeating. For example, we know overeating is bad for us, but do we do it? We know we should work out regularly for good health, but do we? And we all know we should be wearing sunscreen...
In the Bible, how many people when they heard Jesus say, “Follow me!” didn’t? What tiny percentage of his friends and followers actually repented when he said “Repent!” or forgave when he said “Forgive"? How many thousands saw impossible and spectacular miracles, but still wandered back to their old lives after the show was over?
As you follow him, what’s he asking you? Maybe God keeps asking us direct questions because we keep ignoring his clear answers.