“Where are my keys?”
I’ve asked this question many times, sometimes in a low whisper and other times with my fists clenched, eyes closed, and vocal cords strained. “Where! Are! My! Keeeys!”
Regardless of tone, my reason for asking is always the same. I ask because I don’t know.
In the Bible, however, when God asks a question it’s not because he doesn’t know the answer to his question. He’s not asking to get new information. God knows the number of hairs on our heads and the number of the stars in the sky, even calling each star by name (Matthew 10:30; Psalm 147:4). In theological parlance, he’s omniscient.
So when God asks a question, if he’s not asking to learn something, why does he ask? The answer is that he asks questions to teach.
I was reminded of this as I prepared last week’s sermon. In Luke 8, Jesus is surrounded by a huge crowd. When a woman touches Jesus, trusting that Jesus can heal her, Jesus then asks who it was who touched him.
As I looked at the story closer, it was clear that Jesus wanted this woman to publicly identify herself so that she could be restored to the community of God’s people, which she had been excluded from for a dozen years because of her issue with blood. Jesus asked the question, not to gain new information, but so that those in the crowd, and the woman herself, could gain new information. In short, he asked the question to teach.
The Bible is full of these types of questions. When Jesus asks Peter, “Who do you say that I am?”, Jesus is not having an identity crisis. He want’s Peter to learn something. When God asks Adam, “Where are you?”, it’s not because God lost him. He want’s Adam to learn something.
A few years ago, when I was at my former church, I helped produce a monthly video for small group leaders. The very first video was on this topic of asking good questions.
This fall, in churches throughout the world, thousands of small group Bible studies will be launching and re-launching. If you help lead one, or even if you want to grow in your ability to be a thoughtful participant in one, perhaps you will enjoy the video. It’s just four-minutes long. In it, I encourage leaders to ask good questions to teach. Let me know what you think in the comments below.