By Martin E. Willoughby, Jr.
As a child one of my favorite book series was about Curious George. I have fond memories of my parents and grandparents reading me stories about that curious monkey. I don’t know if there is a connection, but I have been a continually curious person as I have traveled down the road of life. For those that know me, they are accustomed to my incessant question asking. I always want to learn and know more. I regularly write down questions for myself to consider and think through. I believe that questions have enormous potential to impact our lives. Warren Berger in his bestselling book, A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas, argues that, “while we’re all hungry for better answers, we must first learn to ask the right questions.”
I recently came across a summary of the 173 questions that Jesus asked in the Gospels. As a question asker, I was intrigued as to the underlying points Jesus was making with his questions. As I reflected on these questions, two stood out to me as particularly “beautiful” questions because of the life-altering impact of the answers.
“Who do you say I am?” (Luke 9:20)
Jesus was praying with his disciples and asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” They told Jesus that some people thought he was John the Baptist or Elijah, and others even thought he was an ancient prophet that had come back to life. Jesus did not stop there. He made the question more pointed, more personal. He said, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” This is the ultimate question for all of us. We are well trained here in the South. I have taught children’s Sunday school for many years, and I always find it amusing that no matter the question the answer is always JESUS! Have you stopped to consider this question a little deeper? Have you thought who Jesus really is to you? Is Jesus just our fire insurance? Is He just an advisor on our spiritual journey? Is He just a wise sage from ancient times? OR is he our Alpha and Omega? Our Redeemer, Savior, and Lord? The answer to this question will completely alter the trajectory of our lives.
“Do you love me?” (John 21:15-17)
The post-resurrection dialogue between Peter and Jesus offers an interesting insight into the heart of our Savior. Jesus does not press in on Peter to ask him, “Are you ready to lead?” He does not want to know from Peter a summary of what he has learned. He presses in on one extremely important point—“Do you love me?” Not once, but three times, Jesus poses this question to Peter. Each time, Peter responded, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.” Most have probably heard this text preached and know that Jesus asked the question differently by using the word “agape” (self-sacrificial love) as well as “phileo” (brotherly love). Consider for a moment why Jesus probed Peter like this. Is Jesus perhaps asking us a similar question? Do I truly love Him? If so, does my life reflect the reality of that love?
I think for all of us these are extremely important and “beautiful” questions. It is easy to get distracted in our busy lives (including church life) with many important questions. However, we should never lose sight of that fact that what Jesus really wants to know is who do we say He is and do we truly love Him.