Why Teach in Questions? Jesus Did.


Growing up, I believed that I had to answer every question asked of me as directly, honestly, and completely I possible. I believed that anything less than this was a lie. For example, if someone asked me how my day was and what I did that day, I would almost immediately swell with nervousness that I was going to leave part of my day out or mess up the order of how things happened. If I didn’t include all the details, was I really answering honestly? If I said my day was great and it was really just good, did I tell a lie?

I quickly learned that I had a moderate case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and specifically one that is termed Religious Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Religion became a trigger for my OCD to the point that telling a lie was the bulk percentage of the pie chart and telling the truth was something that happened only in the rarest of cases when I made sure to give all of the details of all of the facts in the exact correct order. I soon felt like I was lying when I talked most of the time.

You can imagine my relief when I encountered the Jesus of the Bible. You see, most of us have a picture of Jesus in our heads that we learn from parents, friends, youth group events, or poorly made Hollywood movies. Often times, this image doesn’t match up to the Beautiful Person that we see in the pages of the Word of God.

In Jesus, I found a Person who was God and man. At the same time. We was fully divine, yet spent more time in the dirt than I ever have. He was fully man, yet without sin. And, when He was asked a question, sometimes He gave an answered. But, more often, Jesus answered a question with another question.

You see, Jesus was able to discern the motives of the questioner in an instant. I ordered a book today called, “Jesus is the Question: The 307 Questions Jesus Asked and the 3 He Answered,” by Martin Copenhaver. Did you read that? 307 questions that Jesus asked and 3 that he answered. Most of the time, it turns out, Jesus was content to let questions go unanswered. This was especially the case when He knew that the answer to the asked question was not the Answer that the questioner needed.

More often than not, Jesus redirected the conversation immediately to one that would be more fruitful. One example of this was in Matthew 9:14-15. The text reads:

14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”

15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.

Do you see what Jesus did there? The questioners wanted to trap Jesus in a question about religious observances and Jesus redirected the question to one of His identity. “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them?” Jesus asks. The questioners are left with the decision to engage or not in Jesus’ question and wrestle with what Jesus asked them. In an instant, Jesus gets to the heart of the matter at hand and forces the questioner to wrestle with his own question.

Questions, rather than answers, have the unique and profound impact of forcing the hearer to wrestle, seek out, and discover Truth. Jesus understood that He could spoon-feed Truth all day long if He wanted, but it wouldn’t have same effect as if He invited those around him to wrestle with the questions ask. He Himself was the Answer, and He asked questions to empower people to wrestle with that Truth.

I have become fascinated with this approach to education, as mentors like John Mark Reynolds and friends like Adam Johnson have worked tirelessly to question people into Truth. The goal of education, after all, is not to teach people what to think, but how to think.

We serve a God who is Himself the Answer and all of life’s questions rest on His identity. What question is on your heart today? What do you ask of Jesus? Don’t be surprised if He asks you something back. And don’t be surprised if, when you find yourself confronted with your question, it reveals that Jesus is the Answer. May we wrestle with the questions on our hearts today, knowing that the Truth, in fact, is out there!

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8, NIV)