The Gospels record over 300 questions that Jesus asked during His ministry. Yet He directly answered only three of the 183 questions that people asked Him. Why? Perhaps because answers satisfy our curiosity and put our minds to sleep. Questions, on the other hand, stir up our thoughts, hassle our consciences and push us to find answers through deeper study. They encourage conversation and investigation. Good questions can be transformative. Jesus’ questions are all that and more. They have the power to cut through our assumptions, prejudices and fears to show us what is truly in our hearts. If we prayerfully answer them, Jesus’ questions will transform us.
“What do you seek?” John 1:38
Jesus’ first words in the gospel of John are a question – one that He addresses to two men full of questions themselves.
Two of John the Baptist’s disciples have followed Jesus as He leaves the Jordan river. Deep curiosity regarding the “Lamb of God” compels them. Who is this emaciated man who exudes such dignity, power and love? Could he be the long-awaited Messiah?
All of Judea has been in an uproar over the powerful preaching of John the Baptist. Centuries have passed since they last had a prophet and now John’s calls to repentance are bringing reformation in all classes of society. It is well-known that Daniel’s 70-week prophecy is nearing fulfillment and the Messiah is soon to arrive.
Little more than 40 days have passed since John first announced that the Messiah was among them. Just yesterday he had said: “there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” John 1:26-27.
Today, John had pointed Jesus out with the words, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29
“[His] words thrilled the hearts of the disciples. They did not fully understand them. What meant the name that John had given Him,—“the Lamb of God”? John himself had not explained it. Leaving John, they went to seek Jesus. One of the two was Andrew, the brother of Simon; the other was [later] John the evangelist. These were Christ’s first disciples. Moved by an irresistible impulse, they followed Jesus,—anxious to speak with Him, yet awed and silent, lost in the overwhelming significance of the thought, “Is this the Messiah?” Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 138
Now Jesus turns and addresses them with the simple question, “What do you seek?” John 1:37
“What do you seek?”
How interesting that Jesus met Andrew and John with a question! Doesn’t it make you stop and think and ask a few questions yourself?
Jesus’ question to those two first disciples is full of meaning. It reveals His commitment to our freedom of choice, while inviting us to think deeply about our intentions in following Him.
God created human beings with the astounding ability to think for ourselves and make choices that have real effects on life and eternity. He has given each of us a free will – so we can follow Him because we see His beauty and have fallen in love with Him.
Jesus’ question to Andrew and John shows how important our freewill is to Him. “Jesus knew that the disciples were following Him. They were the first fruits of His ministry, and there was joy in the heart of the divine Teacher as these souls responded to His grace. Yet turning, He asked only, “What seek ye?” He would leave them free to turn back or to speak of their desire.” Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 138
Jesus’ question is simply two words in Greek: τίς ζητέω. The English transliteration is “tis zēteō”. “Tis” is a simple question word meaning “who, what, or which”. “Zēteō” means “to seek in order to find, to enquire into, to crave or demand”.
“Tis”: What exactly were they seeking? Jesus’ question invited John and Andrew to take a deep look at precisely what, or whom, they sought. Did they want a deliverer from the Romans? A glorious king? Or were they willing to meet Jesus as He really is – the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world?
“Zēteō”: How serious were they about what they sought? Were they simply curious, or were they willing to take the time to go deeper? What was the desire of their heart? Why did they want it?
Jesus asks you and I the same questions today. What exactly are you seeking when you come to Me? Are you truly wanting to know Me, the bruised and bleeding Lamb of God? Or are you simply hoping for riches, fame and power? Are you following Me because others do? Or because YOU want to know Me?
Jesus’ investigation into our motives doesn’t stop there. How badly do you want Me? He asks. Have you counted the cost and committed fully to this path? Are you willing to make the sacrifices the Christian path requires? What are your reasons for seeking Me?
The answer to Jesus’ question was simple for John and Andrew. “Of one purpose only were they conscious. One presence filled their thought. They exclaimed, “Rabbi, … where dwellest Thou?” In a brief interview by the wayside they could not receive that for which they longed. They desired to be alone with Jesus, to sit at His feet, and hear His words.” Ibid., p. 138
“He said to them, ‘Come and see’. They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day.” John 1:39
Don’t you love Jesus’ response? Jesus welcomed them into His humble dwelling – to sit down with Him for extended conversation. John and Andrew came with open hearts and found in that conversation the desire of their hearts.
“If John and Andrew had possessed the unbelieving spirit of the priests and rulers, they would not have been found as learners at the feet of Jesus. They would have come to Him as critics, to judge His words. Many thus close the door to the most precious opportunities. But not so did these first disciples. They had responded to the Holy Spirit’s call in the preaching of John the Baptist. Now they recognized the voice of the heavenly Teacher. To them the words of Jesus were full of freshness and truth and beauty. A divine illumination was shed upon the teaching of the Old Testament Scriptures. The many-sided themes of truth stood out in new light. It is contrition and faith and love that enable the soul to receive wisdom from heaven. Faith working by love is the key of knowledge, and everyone that loveth “knoweth God.” 1 John 4:7.” Ibid., p. 139
Oh friend – it’s still true! If the desire of your heart is to know Jesus—really know Him—than you are invited to come and stay with Him. He longs to talk with you, ask you questions, listen to your heart, and answer your questions. He is thrilled that you are following Him, but He still asks you “What do you seek?” He will not force you to follow Him. The choice is up to you. Do you sincerely desire to abide with Jesus? If you do, you will be blessed with His presence.
Set aside 20 minutes this Sabbath to meditate on Jesus’ question to His first disciples in John 1:38. Think about what it means for you today and write down all the insights Jesus gives you. Then write a prayer of response to Jesus.
This week read the Gospels and pay attention to Jesus’ questions. You might be surprised by what you learn.
Download a list of all 339 questions Jesus asked HERE.
Note: All Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version.