A couple of years ago I attended a seminar on pastoral coaching. I had some friends who had attended similar seminars, and they suggested that I would benefit from the training. I did! In fact, one of the main “take-aways” was a new insight into the power of questions. Even more intriguing was the thought that some questions are more powerful than others. For example, my instructors suggested that questions that begin with “why” are not that helpful. The reason is that people coming for help don’t really know “why” they are coming for help. That’s WHY they are coming to talk with you! So the instructor would stop us every time we asked a “why” question to suggest that we should rephrase our inquiries with something better. That seminar taught me that we all have questions, but some questions are better than others.

However, we don’t have to go to a “coaching seminar” to learn this concept. All we have to do is to watch Jesus. Have you watched Him recently, especially how He responded to people with questions? All too frequently Jesus would turn their questions upside-down and send the conversation in a different direction. Was He being rude? Of course not! Was He confused by what the questioner was asking? Absolutely not! No, Jesus had a way of taking important questions and transforming them into something better. And He did it…intentionally!

You would do well to read John chapter 3, especially verses 1-21. It is the account of Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel, who came to Jesus at night. People speculate about why he came at night, but the text doesn’t give a specific answer. What is more important is that he came with an implied question. He said, “No one could perform these signs you do unless God were with him.” (JN 3:2 HCSB) Or to put it another way, “Where do you get your power to do what you are doing?” 

You would think that Jesus would say something like, “Well, you’ve got that right. Yes, I do the things I do in the power of God.” But He didn’t. He changed the subject completely. He started talking to Nicodemus about how someone gets into the Kingdom of God (3:3-8). He made statements about the incarnation of the Son of God (3:9-13). And then He made reference to Numbers 21 where Israel complained against God. As an act of judgment, poisonous snakes were sent out to afflict the people. Moses, however, erected a Bronze Snake and told the people that if they were to be delivered from death, they needed to LOOK at the snake and live. Jesus used this narrative to state that like the Bronze Serpent, He was the deliverer who would give life to those who believed in Him. 

So why did Jesus overturn the original question raised by Nicodemus? (I know. I know. Don’t ask “why” questions.) Here’s what Jesus wants you to know: WE HAVE LOTS OF QUESTIONS, BUT JESUS CHANGES OUR QUESTIONS SO THAT WE WILL SEE HIM MORE CLEARLY. He may even allow our initial questions to go unanswered so that we will keep coming to Him to discover who He really is.

So what kinds of questions are you bringing to Jesus today? Are you asking Him about why you were laid off three months ago after years of faithful service to the company? Or maybe you are asking Him why He won’t hurry up and change your wayward son’s attitude. And perhaps you are asking Him why you were afflicted with disease now…at this time in your life…when you have so much more that you want to do.

Yes, we have questions, don’t we? And sometimes God seems to ignore our questions altogether. I’ll be the first to admit that when God seems silent, our faith might very well become weak, UNLESS…UNLESS we stop and look at Jesus. Have you looked at Him recently? If not, go back and read John 3 yet another time. And when you do, look at Jesus, the incarnate Son who came to die. He came, not to judge, but to give life. And He did all of that….for…YOU! So for now, set aside the questions that you have and ponder Jesus. And when you do, your questions might very well fade away and all you will have is…JESUS!

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