good question

I have been reading the Gospel of Matthew.  One thing that has been standing out to me this time through are some of the questions Jesus uses, particularly the questions that are left with no response.  I will not attempt to answer any of these questions, but I would like to draw attention to their significance.

One example is found in Matthew 8.  It is the story of Jesus asleep in the boat as he and the disciples cross the lake.  A storm threatens to sink them and they wake Jesus up, fearing for their lives.  In verse 26, just before rebuking the storm, Jesus asks this question, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” (NASV)  The disciples never respond to Jesus’ question.  The obvious answer would be, “well Jesus, we are afraid because of this terrible storm and the fact we are about to sink.

Surely Jesus was aware
that the disciples saw the storm as the cause of their fear. But I have a hard time believing that Jesus took the time to ask the disciples a question with such an obvious answer.  His question, in the middle of a storm, was not a use of sarcasm, or an attempt to belittle the other men in the boat.  There was something deeper that Jesus was attempting to draw attention to.

Another example is found in Matthew 14.  In this chapter we find the disciples at sea once again.  This time Jesus comes to them, walking on the water.  Peter leaves the boat to approach Jesus but begins to sink.  After Jesus rescues Peter, he asks him this question in verse 31, “Why did you doubt?” Peter never answers the question and the story moves on.

Typically I just keep on reading, the answer to Jesus’ questions seeming fairly obvious. But for whatever reason, as I read through Matthew this time, I keep getting stuck on these questions. Jesus was not wasting time with redundant questions.  He was probing, teaching, helping the disciples come to some realization.  After failures of some sort the disciples are left with a question.  I have to believe Jesus’ heart in asking these questions was to help them, to lead them to some insight that would prevent them from making the same mistake in the future. When Jesus asks a question, there must be a corresponding answer.

As I wrestle with these and other unanswered questions in Matthew I am finding it enlightening to apply these questions to my own fears and doubts.

When I struggle with doubt, why? When I am afraid, why?

Is there something I have allowed into my life that has caused it?  Is there a “voice” that I have listened to that I shouldn’t have? Are there things I need to be doing to keep my faith strong that I have neglected? Is my focus where it should be?

Again, when Jesus asks a question, there must be a corresponding answer.  Pay attention to these types of questions in the Gospel accounts.  Next time you find an unanswered question, consider that maybe you are the one who is supposed to supply the answer.