I received an email reflection recently that talked about how Jesus is recorded as asking 307 questions in the Gospels. In contrast, He directly answers only three of the 183 questions that He was asked. Just three.
Jesus asked questions that could be easily answered, as well as questions with no obvious answer. He often answered questions with more questions, either to make a point, expose deception, or get people thinking.
This, from the Son of God. The One with all the answers. He doesn’t rush to teach, to explain, to solve, to inform. He doesn’t teach all that He could with every question asked of Him. His approach is RADICALLY different.
It made me pause and wonder why. I know that asking questions is a good approach to learning about people, but Jesus already knew their heart. Asking questions is a good approach to get people thinking, and certainly that happened. Asking questions is a good way to prompt conversation, and that happened as well. But was that necessary 307 times? Isn’t that a bit extreme in approach?
The author then said that Jesus uses questions to “confer dignity on people.” Ah. Now that makes sense. Jesus saw the people around Him not just as a people in need, but people made in the image of God. He desired for them to understand their capacity and potential. He didn’t want a dependent people but a people with a deep knowledge of God and in that deep knowledge, an understanding of their own place in joining with God to be part of the solution.
So often I feel compelled to give answers. Sometimes I give answers when there hasn’t been a question! And I know how I feel when someone “mansplains” something to me – I feel belittled and patronized. When this happens – either with me “mansplaining” or someone else doing that to me, the truth is that I end up being deaf to what is really going on around me.
Jesus only answered three questions.
In his book, Jesus Asked, author Conrad Gempf refers to Mark 13, which is the chapter in which the disciples are asking Jesus about the end times. Their question is, “When will this happen and what will be the signs?” In typical fashion, Jesus does not answer their question, but rather tells them how to look, referencing the fig tree. Then, in verse 32, Jesus admits that He doesn’t know the answer to the question. In this, we see that Jesus had given up omniscience as well as omnipresence in becoming man. But it is not a sin not to know something. Not for Jesus. And not for us.
How difficult to tame the tongue! How difficult to ask questions or admit that we don’t know.
I don’t want to be deaf to what is going on around me. I want to ask questions and learn to listen and grow from everyone nearby – not just the sages and wise teachers. From adults, and teens, and children. Especially about their frontline – where they spend most of their time: What is the culture of your frontline? What are the values that shape it? Who are the heroes? What do you like and dislike? How can it become more Kingdom like?
I want to practice starting conversations with, “I wanna ask you something…” What an invitation to listen and learn.
I want to be more like Jesus.
On Thursday, the DML team leaves for East Africa, where we will be doing workshops in Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Kenya. We have a very tight schedule of back-to-back workshops and travel, so please pray that all travel may go smoothly, especially in light of COVID. Thank you!