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Seeker

Matthew 7: 7 – 8

Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you for every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened.

I have a question for you today. Does or did Jesus have the capacity to tell a lie? Did Jesus ever tell one lie in his life? We need to know because he is the one who spoke these words we read today. Here is another question, is it possible that when Jesus said these words he meant them only figuratively? In other words, are the words in the quoted verses for today meant to express their literal meaning or are they some figurative, allegorical or metaphorical representation of another meaning? We need to know! Does Jesus mean what he said or was he speaking in nuanced riddles?

I looked up simile, allegory, metaphor and figurative and from the meanings I see there, none of them apply to these two verses. Still, many people excuse the literal meanings of Jesus’ words claiming that they represent some other ideas which are not actually spoken. Because Jesus sometimes taught by using parables, some people discount all of his speech as representative rather than literal. Okay, so let me ask you another question. Why would the Son of God, he who came to set us free and to lead us into truth and fullness of life, play cloak and dagger with his beloved? He came to earth to die for each and every one of us; he came to give his life a ransom so that we might be saved. Why then would he hide the ball from us? And yes, that was figurative language I just used and it was obvious and understood.

That is the point of figurative language. It is not meant to hide the truth. It is used to illustrate and make clear difficult concepts. Finally, if we intend to have a relationship with Jesus, one that is based on truth and trust, then we must believe his words have actual meaning. He spoke so that we could hear and be free. When he said, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (John 10: 10) we must assume and understand that those words mean exactly what they say. Otherwise they do not have meaning and frankly, the whole Bible is undermined. If Jesus wanted to communicate that the purpose of his coming to earth was to give us life, how else would he say it other than to use the words which have the meaning which normally and customarily mean just that? Do you see what I mean? Once a person reduces one of Jesus’ literal statements to fantasy or figurative poetry, then all meaning for all his messages is lost. Who can say which of his statements are mere figures of speech and which ones he actually meant as spoken? Honestly, it is beyond intellectual integrity for one to adopt this posture. It is the height of arrogance. People who excuse away Jesus’ words and meanings replace them with themselves and their reasoning. It is foolishness!

The point of all of this is that Jesus said that if we seek, we shall find. There is no figure of speech in that statement so really, the choice is whether or not we choose to take him at his word. Do we believe the Father of us all sent His only begotten son to earth to lead us into truth, wisdom, and freedom? Why would Yahweh, Abba Father, sacrifice His beloved on a cross for people He intended to mislead? Does that really make any sense at all? Jesus’ brother, James, said that we should ask God for wisdom promising that God would give it to us freely and without reproach (James 1: 5). Why, then, would God offer to give us all His wisdom yet cloak every word Jesus said while in the earth. It is illogical and unreasonable to believe that so, trust that Jesus came to open eyes and doors. Believe him when he says that if we ask, we shall receive. When we seek, we will always find. Knock on the door because Jesus is on the other side waiting to open it to you.

Jesus has so much for us. The Father invested everything He had to bring us into a personal relationship with Him. The Holy Spirit is hovering today with creative power in his hands. They long for us. Let our yearning reach out and take hold of the love offered. Ask, seek, knock . . . receive, find, be welcomed in.

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.