Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them,
“Whom do you seek?”
John 18:4 ESV
Questions. We typically associate them with uncertainty. We don’t know the way, so we ask directions. We don’t know the reason, so we ask why. We don’t know the answer, so we ask for it.
Yet Jesus did not ask questions because He did not know; He asked because He knew. Jesus knew exactly what the soldiers were coming to the Garden of Gethsemane to do. Jesus knew exactly who they were looking for. Yet He still asked them, “Whom do you seek?” In fact, he actually asked them twice. He then waited for them to say His name before submitting Himself to their custody. Once they declared “Jesus of Nazareth” as the one they sought, Jesus in turn responded with “I am he” (John 18:5-8).
Jesus knew before He ever entered the Garden what events were about to unfold. He knew what the soldiers and priests were there to do. Yet He still asked the question. He did not ask because He did not know; He asked so they could know. He knew they were going to arrest him. Yet He waited until they spoke it themselves.
And in that simple response–I am He–Jesus conveyed His purpose–His destiny–His reason for coming to earth. There in the Garden, when faced with the choice to choose life or to choose death, Jesus chose His death for our life. He could have run. He could have lied. He could have fought. But He didn’t. He just asked the question He already knew the answer to, and then waited for the response.
First Corinthians reminds us “in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (15:22). And it was as I read the above account in John 18 God reminded me of the other famous garden account: the Garden of Eden. This account, however, is the one that led to death, not life. Adam may have thought he was choosing life when he ate of the forbidden fruit, yet in reality he chose death–a choice he didn’t begin to fully realize until he heard God coming. When God entered the Garden and did not see Adam out and about, He asked the question, “Where are you?” God knew where Adam was. He knew what Adam had done. Nevertheless, I believe, God asked the question because He wanted Adam to know what he’d done. He wanted Adam to admit the choice he’d made.
God always knows. Always. He knows our questions before we ask them; He knows the answers before we seek them. He knows. And He also always knows the answers to the questions He asks before He asks them. God’s questions aren’t for His benefit; they are for ours.
Throughout His time on earth, Jesus asked countless questions. Typically, whenever people approached Him Jesus would ask a question. He’d often ask what they wanted–even though He knew fully what they wanted–and more importantly what they needed. He never asked for His sake; He asked for the sake of those who could hear Him. Even now, God’s questions aren’t for His sake; they are for ours. He asks so we can know. He asks so we can see. He asks so we can hear. He asks because He knows–and because we don’t.
So I encourage you in two ways today. First of all, do not be afraid to ask God those tough questions you may have. Not only can He handle them, but He can help you answer them as well. He knows every word that proceeds from your mouth before you ever speak it (Psalm 139:4). Your questions will never catch Him off guard; but they will always bring Him near.
And then secondly, always be diligent in answering God’s questions. For God’s questions are your answers–even when you are not seeking them. God doesn’t ask questions for His sake; He asks them for yours. Even if the answer hurts, the temporary pain pales in comparison to the eternal benefits of following God’s direction.
Therefore, I leave you with this today: God knows. He knows it all. So whether you are the one asking or the one being asked, be at peace; for God knows.