May I ask you a question? Have you ever considered how many questions Jesus asked in the Gospel narratives? You might be surprised! One author counted 135. Another over 300! I intend to do a study of that sometime in the future and to preach a series of messages on them. Well maybe not all of them...but the most impacting. Deciding which ones are the most impactful may be difficult to choose. But what a study that would be. As I see it there are 44 questions that Jesus asked in the 28 chapters of Matthew's Gospel. There are 25 incidents of interrogation in Mark's short 16 chapters. Luke, it appears, recorded 31 important questions our Lord sought answers for in Luke's 25 chapters. John, in his 21 chapters, written nearly 30 years after the days of Jesus' flesh, still remembers 35 times that Jesus felt it necessary to ask his hearers a question. Jesus often asked questions in response to questions asked of Him. Jesus never asked questions because He was lacking the answer. He already knew every answer to every question that He asked. I have been amazed by how masterfully our Lord uses questions to teach vital spiritual truths. Jesus never asked a question because he needed to know the answer. He used questions the way a surgeon uses a scalpel, to delicately cut into a new level of understanding.
I would like to take you to the last chapter of the Gospel of John. I want you to focus on the last words that the aged Apostle recorded as he closed his Gospel. He closed his Gospel recounting four questions that Jesus asked His disciples before He left them. They say, "Last words are Lasting words!" How true! We often remember the last words that loved wanted to tell us before they passed. They are forever vividly etched in our memories. They were so moving that they likely overshadowed most all the words they told us over a lifetime. In similar fashion, "Last questions are Lasting questions!" Jesus, just before ascending back to the Father, and leaving His disciples to the mission that He intended them to give their life too, even if it took them to their own personal Cross, asked four very impacting questions that should still be imprinted in our psyches, and still be an impetus to particular service. What are those four questions? Well, in John 21: 5 Jesus asked His disciples, "Little children, do you have any meat?" They had been fishing all night, on a Lake that they had fished for years, with great success! There was hardly ever a morning that they brought the boats to shore that they did not cook and eat some of the successful catch. But Jesus uses an interrogative particle (me ti) that is used in Greek to ask a question that expects a negative answer! He got that negative answer from them in one word-"no!" (Gk. Ou). They had had no success and quite frankly they didn't want to talk about it! But Jesus did! He had called them to follow Him to a new calling-"fishing for men". They had forsaken their nets once and for all to do just that! By a miracle He had shown them that to follow Him would result in success beyond belief! (See Luke 5:4-7; Mark 1:17; Matthew 4:19). The question He asked them indelibly etched their mind with the truth that if they quit on Him, and go back to their old lives, which they had once been successful at, they would never find success at that ever again. The "call of God is irrevocable" (Rom. 11:29). Link His question "have ye any meat" with His own affirmation in John 4:32 "I have meat that ye know not of". Winning people to a saving knowledge of Jesus was Jesus' greatest satisfaction. He called them to follow Him in a life of doing just that! They were attempting to turn their back on that calling and invest their live's times, talents, and treasures in inferior activities. He gently, but gloriously reminded them with that one question that to continue to go that direction would insure that they would never enjoy the satisfying meat of winning the lost; and would live with the gnawing hunger of choosing the temporal over the eternal! All with one little question!
Then He turns to ask Peter a question-not once but three times. He does so in full sight and sound of the other disciples. This lesson was for them too! He asks Peter three times-"do you love me?" (John 21:15, 16, 17). "Do you love (agapas me?) me?" "Do you love (agapas me) me?" "Do you love (phileis me) me?" His point with these three questions is that you can claim to love me, and maybe at your own chosen level you may very well really love me. But...Your life will never rise to the potential that I have planned for it; you will never be able to go back to the pre-salvation days of contentment with worldly ambitions; unless you return to giving your all in the work of winning men, women, boys and girls to saving faith in me, you will never be satisfied, and your love for me will always be taking second place to your love for yourself, and your selfish ambitions! That is what He was concerned about as He was ascending back to His Father. They need to face and answer those questions. They did and it changed Church history. If you and I will answer them like those early disciples did, we too will experience a transformation ourselves, and can change Church history once again! How are you going to answer these questions? "Do you have any meat?" The kind that only comes from winning the lost? If not, then ask yourselves "Who do you love?" "Me?" "Or yourself?"
As he aged, and his health failed, William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army was not able to come and speak to the Army's Annual Convention in person. But he wanted to address them. Their acting Moderator opened a letter from their founder and read these last words to them: "Delegates of the Salvation Army Convention: OTHERS! "-Gen. Wm. Booth. That is what Jesus was saying by His last questions!
"Lord let me live life from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayer shall be for others!
Others, yes Lord, Others;
Let this my motto be,
Help me live for others Lord,
That I might Live like Thee"
William Temple is one of the greatest Christians that ever served as the Archbishop of Canterbury. Sometime read his definition of worship. There is none in all of Christian history that can match it. He also had a great quote about the reason for the True Church of Jesus Christ. He said, "The Church of Jesus Christ is the only organization that exists solely for the benefit of non-members!" When we forget that, and fail to function for non-members, and their salvation, we forfeit our right to exist!