Asking, Seeking and Knocking
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives and who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (7, 8).
“Or who is the person among you, whom his son will ask him for bread, he won’t give him a stone, will he? Or if he will ask for fish, he won’t give him a snake will he?” (9, 10)
“If then, you, being evil know to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in the heavens give good things to those who ask Him?” (11)
Verse 7 is another one of those passages often quoted, sometimes without knowing its source. It is often used as though it’s an open promise, a blank check. But is it? And what is being promised?
The passage has three imperative verbs: “ask,” “seek” and “knock.” All three are in the present tense in Greek, which could have the idea of continual action, though not necessarily.
Many commentators see this as implying persistence – “keep on asking,” “keep on seeking,” “keep on knocking.” Thus, the whole passage becomes an exhortation to keep at it if you want answers. Some have even implied that each verb is stronger than the one preceding. In other words, if you can’t get what you want by continued asking, then start seeking and if you can’t get it by seeking start pounding. Sooner or later God will give you what you want.
I don’t think that this is what Jesus is telling His disciples. It doesn’t fit the context and it doesn’t fit the illustration (9, 10) or the promise (11).
We need to remember that Jesus is speaking to two groups of people, His disciples, especially the 12, and larger crowds that had gathered around (4:25; 5:1, 2; 7:28, 29). His words are directed to His disciples and (I believe) to any in the crowds who desired to be disciples.
In 6:33, Jesus closes His remarks on worry with an exhortation to seek the Kingdom of their Heavenly Father. This seeking is to be unlike the seeking that the heathen do (32) which has to do with the things that relate to their life. The word “seek” (zeteite) in verse 33 is the same word that He uses in 7:7. Could Jesus still be speaking of the same action in 7:7?
If this is so, we are misinterpreting and misapplying this passage when we apply the promise to material “good things” or something similar. The “good things” are those which relate to the Father’s Kingdom.
But what does it mean to seek God’s Kingdom? I believe that though that Kingdom had “drawn near” in Jesus’ day (3:1; 4:17), it was still future then and is still future in our day. So here are a few thoughts:
· We are to seek to bring many into that Kingdom by faith in Jesus Christ. Those who are Christ’s are citizens of the Kingdom (Colossians 1:13; Philippians 3:20).
· We are to seek to bring our behavior into conformity with Christ’s. Much of this sermon is devoted to this.
So then, what are we to ask? We are to ask for those things which we seek – those “good things” which will advance His Kingdom program – those which have to do with the growth of His Kingdom and its citizens.
And the knocking? The open door is a common metaphor for opportunities for service – for witness, for evangelism, for missions. (SEE: THE CHURCH OF THE OPEN DOOR.)
· “Look, I have placed before you an open door, which noone is able to shut” (Revelation 3:8).
· “He opened a door of faith to the gentiles” (Acts 14:27).
· “… a wide and effective door has opened to me” (1 Corinthians 16:9).
· “… a door was opened to me in the Lord” (2 Corinthians 2:12).
· “… praying at the same time for us, that God would open to us a door for the word …” (Colossians 4:3).
There is a similar passage in Luke 11:9-13, set in a different context. (Apparently Jesus, like many preachers, saw nothing wrong with repeating Himself.) The wording is very similar except for the promise in the last sentence. The last clause replaces the words “good things” with the words “the Holy Spirit.” Quite a difference. Jesus, in this passage is apparently looking forward to the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was given as promised. See Acts 1:4, 8, 14; 2:1-4 for the fulfillment of this promise.
God has already supplied us with His Holy Spirit. He has promised to provide all that we need for His service – the “good things.”