Posts Tagged Matthew 7: 7 – 11

Snakes and Stones or Fish and Bread

Matthew 7: 7 – 11

“Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened. Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or what if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”

I know this is a very familiar passage of scripture but it bears looking at again and again. And even though it is well known I am unconvinced that it has really sunk into the hearts of believers.

We begin with the entreaty of Christ himself telling us to ask the Father for those things we seek. He would have no need to tell the people to make requests to God if they were already doing it. Moreover, Jesus knew well that the words he spoke while on the earth were not only for the people of that era but also for us. There is an emphatic plea in Jesus’ tone as he tried to encourage the Jews of then and us today to take our petitions to the Lord, our God. 

Ask, he says, and you will receive. Clearly the people were not asking but the important underlying point is that they did not ask because they did not believe God would answer. That is why Jesus went on to explain God’s willingness to answer prayer by comparing Him to an earthly parent. Surely, even a half-way decent parent would not give a child a snake in response to a request for a fish or a stone in place of bread and yet followers of Yahweh don’t even give Him that much credit. We have failed to recognize Him as a loving parent. Jesus calls us to look at ourselves and compare ourselves with the God and Father who created us. If we are virtuous enough to give our children that which is good how is it that we do not believe that our heavenly Father is virtuous enough to care for us? In our comparison somehow we subconsciously arrive at the conclusion that God is not a good parent. The result is that we don’t bother to ask because we do not believe that He will answer.

As I read this I am forced to ask myself if I believe Jesus. What was Jesus’ purpose in speaking these words? Is this just theology or is he trying to compel us to really treat God as a father? Does Jesus think that the comparison of God to an earthly parent is rational? And does he really believe that if you and I ask God for something that God will actually provide for us? Will God provide for me as He provided for Jesus?

As I sit here I invite you to join me in thinking about what you really want and what you really need. What is in your heart today? Is it something in the physical realm or something intangible? Can you imagine yourself seated at the kitchen table with your father God? What would you say to Him about this need or desire you have? Can you see Him as a loving parent who wishes to meet your needs and who also loves to bless you with gifts?

So much theology is put to right when we receive a revelation of God’s love. When we come to understand His heart and His deep love for us then all the pieces begin to fall into place. We have to shake off this idea of Him as a distant and removed God and get a revelation of Him as a loving parent. That is what Jesus tried to reveal to us and he is emphatic that we should treat God as a parent by asking, seeking and knocking. We have Jesus’ word that we will receive, the door will be opened and we will find that which we seek. Move outside of your experience and your philosophy today and attempt to hear what Jesus is saying. Sit with him and let him minister the nuance and implications of the words as well as their literal meaning. There is something important in this passage that Jesus is trying to convey to you today. Require him to give you the fullness of its meaning.