20 June, 2024

The Question that Matters

by | 15 April, 2024 | 0 comments

By Doug Redford 

On April 16, 2007, Virginia Tech University was the scene of an unspeakable tragedy when 32 students and teachers lost their lives in a shooting rampage. The shooter was a student at the school, who took his own life when police closed in on him. 

Various stories about this student began to circulate after the tragedy. One of them involved a British literature class from the previous year in which the young man was a student. On the first day of the class, the 30 or so students went around and introduced themselves. When it was this student’s turn, he didn’t speak. On the sign-in sheet where everyone else had written their names, the student had written a question mark. “Is your name ‘question mark’?” a classmate recalled the professor asking. The young man offered little in response. 

The student spent much of that class sitting in the back of the room, wearing a hat and seldom participating. In a notably small department of the school, he distinguished himself for being anonymous. Said one student, “He didn’t reach out to anyone. He never talked.” 

“We just really knew him as the question-mark kid.” 

Truth be told, there are a lot of question-mark kids (and adults) in our world—unsure, frustrated, and disillusioned with life and the world. Often they have many questions: Why am I here? What’s life all about? Am I just an accident? Does anybody care about what happens to me? 

The Bible is full of questions. Some are defiant (Cain’s “Am I my brother’s keeper?”), some are skeptical (Nicodemus’s “How can a man be born when he is old?”), some are asked in anguish (Jesus’ “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”), and some are asked in desperation (the Philippian jailer’s “What must I do to be saved?”). God himself asked questions (beginning with his “Where are you?” directed to Adam). And God in the flesh, Jesus, asked many questions, perhaps none more important than, “Who do you say I am?” 

At this time of Communion, we may be wrestling with many troubling or upsetting questions. We come to this table, however, having answered the most crucial question: Who is Jesus? As we take these emblems, we declare that we agree with Peter: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Whatever questions we may face in this broken world, it makes all the difference that we get this one right.  

Doug Redford has served in the preaching ministry, as an editor of adult Sunday school curriculum, and as a Bible college professor. Now retired, he continues to write and speak as opportunities come. 


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