Friday, March 8, 2013

Questions Jesus Asks

It's been said that the best leaders are not necessarily the ones with all of the right answers, but the ones who know how to ask the right questions.  When it comes to asking the right questions, Jesus embodies great leadership.  Taking all four of the Gospels into account, Jesus asks well over 300 questions, many of which cut straight to the heart of what is most important.  And in keeping with the principle that the Bible is "a book uniquely inspired by God and addressed to each of the faithful personally," it is appropriate and challenging to receive those questions as though Jesus were addressing them to each one of us.

I like the way Monsignor Charles Pope puts it in a posting entitled "100 Questions Jesus Asked and You Ought to Answer":

One of the bigger mistakes people make in reading Scripture is that they read it as a spectator. For them Scripture is a collection of stories and events that took place thousands of years ago. True enough, we are reading historical accounts. 
But, truth be told these ancient stories are our stories. We are in the narrative. You are Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Deborah, Jeremiah, Ruth, Peter, Paul, Magdalene, Mother Mary, and, if you are prepared to accept it, you are also Jesus. As the narrative we read unfolds, we are in the story. We cannot simply watch what others say or do or answer. For what Peter and Magdalene and others did, we do. Peter denied and ran. So do we. Magdalene loved and never gave up, should should we. Magdalene had a sinful past and a promising future, so do we. Peter was passionate and had a temper so do we. But Peter also loved the Lord and ultimately gave his life for the Lord. So can we. Jesus suffered and died but rose again and ascended to glory. So have we and so will we.

The scriptures are our own story. We are in it. To read scripture as a mere spectator looking on is to miss the keynote. Scripture is our story.

In the light of this keynote there emerges another very important and powerful key to unlocking the text. The key is simply this: Answer the Question! Among the many things Jesus did, he asked a lot of questions! And whenever you read the Gospels and Jesus asks a question, answer it! Do not wait to see what Peter or Magdalene, or the Pharisees or the crowd say for an answer. You answer the question, in your own words. This brings Scripture powerfully alive.

In another posting entitled "135 Questions Jesus Asked," Pastor Eric von Atzigen offers the following insightful observation about why Jesus asked so many questions:

I have been amazed by how masterfully our Lord uses questions to teach vital spiritual truths.  Jesus never asked a question because he needed to know the answer.  He used questions the way a surgeon uses a scalpel, to delicately cut into a new level of understanding. ... I find myself amazed at the power of these questions to cut into my soul.

I had never really thought about it in quite this way before, but Pastor Eric is right: Jesus' questions are powerful!  And they can open up places in our hearts and souls to receive the healing grace of God.  

In a book entitled 99 Questions Jesus Asked, youth pastor Jason Ostrander notes the significance of question asking in Jesus' teaching ministry:

There are three things that make Jesus’ teaching style of “question asking” so powerful. First, if you ask a question, you’re displaying a genuine interest in the person. Everything that Jesus said was perfect and timely (because he was the Son of God), and he wasn’t asking questions to get answers necessarily—rather, he was relating to the people on a very deep level. Just because he might have known the answer already doesn’t mean he was being disingenuous; instead, he was using questions to illuminate what he knew were the real issues in people’s lives. 
Second, by leaving a legacy of questions rather than a list of answers (or to-do’s), Jesus was communicating how important it was to think as a Christian. For Jesus it was more important that he teach us how to think than to tell us what to think!  
Finally, the fact that Jesus asked so many questions helps us know that we have a role in this whole Christian life. Most world religions have, at their core, leaders who make statement after statement about how their followers should live their lives, which would require an almost robot-like response disconnected from the leader. But Jesus’ approach with his followers was to put them in the game by seeking their responses and working with their answers right on the spot!

The postings already cited will give you more of Jesus' questions.  I share just a few of them below.  Use them for your own prayerful meditation and reflection.  You can look each one of them up for the context, but perhaps it's best to follow Msgr. Pope's counsel:

Just let the question meet you where you are right now. The question may mean something for you that is very different than its original context.  But that is OK.  Just pick a question, read it, consider it and answer it, by talking to the Lord.

Questions Jesus Asks

"Why are you afraid?" (Mark 4:40)

"What do you want me to do for you?" (Mark 10:51)

"Do you believe that I am able to do this?" (Matthew 9:28)

"Are you asleep?" (Mark 14:37)

"Where is your faith?" (Luke 8:25)

"Why do you think evil in your hearts?" (Matthew 9:4)

"Why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14:31)

"Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" (Matthew 16:13)

"Who do you say that I am?" (Matthew 16:15)

"Is that your own idea, or did others talk to you about me?" (John 18:34)

"Why do you ask me about what is good?" (Matthew 19:17)

"Why do you involve me?" (John 2:4)

"If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?" (John 3:12)

"Do you want to be made well?" (John 5:6)

"Does this offend you?" (John 6:61)

"Did I not choose you?" (John 6:70)

"Why do you not understand what I say?" (John 8:43)

"Do you understand what I have done for you?" (John 13:12)

"What shall we say the Kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it?" (Mark 4:30)

"Are you so dull?" (Mark 7:18)

"Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord', and do not do what I tell you?" (Luke 6:46)

"What is written in the law?  How do you read it?" (Luke 10:26)

"Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?" (Luke 12:25)

"So if you have not been trustworthy with worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?" (Luke 16:11)

"When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:8)

"Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?" (Luke 24:38)

"You do not want to leave too, do you?" (John 6:67)

"Why are you trying to kill me?" (John 7:19)

"Do you love me?" (John 21:17)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. It is an insight that seems so obvious, but it really struck me when I read it.

I've posted some of the questions on my parish's facebook page. I hope it strikes my parishioners in the way it struck me.