Jesus asked a LOT of questions in his time on earth. By one estimate, he asked a total of 307 questions throughout the Gospel. And these are just the questions Jesus asked that were recorded. Likely that number was MUCH higher.
In contrast, Jesus answered shockingly few questions asked of him. We only have 8 recorded answers that Jesus gave to the questions he was asked. It would seem the questions Jesus asked were far more important to him than the answers he gave.
I think there’s a powerful lesson here for us today. So I want to spend a few minutes diving into the kind of questions Jesus asked and what we can learn from them.
Why Questions Are More Important Than Answers
We LOVE answers in our culture. Answers mean that we have knowledge and most people would much rather give an answer than ask a question.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 8:1-3 that knowledge puffs us up. It makes us feel better about ourselves, superior to those around us. And we eat that up. We love having knowledge and showing others what we know.
Here’s the reality. Answers, knowledge, isn’t as important as we think it is. Knowledge by itself just causes us to think we are better than others, it puffs us up.
Jesus, the guy who quite literally had all the knowledge in the world chose to give very few answers. You’d think he would just go around spouting off all his knowledge. Answering all the questions people asked to wow him. But that’s not what we see in the Gospels.
Don’t get me wrong, people tried to ask him questions all the time, but he rarely answered them and instead responded with a question of his own.
Think about this for a minute. Jesus, God in flesh, more often than not, asked questions and avoided giving answers.
Maybe, just maybe, Jesus knows something we don’t. You see, I think Jesus knows that those answers we seek won’t give us what we hope. So instead he gives us questions which cause us to think, to dissect our lives, and to see what’s ultimately important.
Questions are greater than answers.
That shouldn’t be too much of a shock. Think of the people who made the biggest impact in your life. Is it the person who lectured you on all things true? Or the person who listened and helped you reflect on life?
For me, the people who’ve made the biggest impact are the ones who asked the most questions. Lectures have giving me information, but rarely has that lead to meaningful change in my life.
That’s exactly what Jesus does. When we look at the questions Jesus asked, what we see is he is helping the people he’s interacting with evaluate their lives and set a better course.
Answers are overrated. We think we need them, but in many cases, they don’t give us what we’d hoped. Questions are greater than answers.
So let’s take a look at the questions Jesus asked.
Questions Jesus Asked
It would take quite some time to go through each individual question that Jesus asked. So what we are going to do instead is look at the categories, or kinds, of questions asked and see what we can learn.
This isn’t going to be an exhaustive list. The purpose of this isn’t to catalog each question, but rather to help us grow in our faith.
If you are looking for more of the raw questions without the explanation check out this article: 135 Questions Jesus Asked
Questions Of Invitation
Early in the Gospels we see Jesus starting his ministry and inviting people to follow him. Interestingly, a common question Jesus asked his disciples was, “What are you looking for?” (John 1:38)
This question gets to the heart of what they are really looking for. He’s asking them is your current way of living REALLY giving you want you want. If not, follow me and I will give you what you are truly after.
Jesus continued to use this style of questioning throughout his ministry. He asked questions to uncover people’s motives and then invited them to follow him. (John 18:7, John 20:15, Luke 2:49)
I think this is a powerful lesson for us today. Rather than just telling people what they should do, we should ask questions that cause them to evaluate what they are really after in life. A question can help someone dig deeper in a way that a piece of information cannot.
Questions Of Identity
“Who do people say I am? Who do you say I am?” – Jesus (Mark 8:27-29; Luke 9:18-20; Matthew 16:13-15)
What an interesting question for Jesus to ask. It’s not that Jesus was curious about what people thought of him. After all, he already knew their thoughts. Jesus is after something else.
Jesus is using these questions of identity to point his followers to where their identity lies. These questions Jesus asked were directed at helping his followers see who he really was and the implications that held for them.
Again, rather than just telling them who he was and what to believe, Jesus used a question to help them truly understand who he was. When we are told a fact, it’s not really ours. When we have to stop and process to arrive at a conclusion, it becomes part of who we are. That’s what Jesus is doing. He’s causing his followers to pause and contemplate who he really is.
Questions Of Intent
When asked a question Jesus would often ask another question rather than give an answer. This was a brilliant response, and he used these questions to reveal the heart of those asking. (Matthew 7:3-4; Luke 5:22, Matthew 9:4).
This is in essence what the parable of the Good Samaritan is (Luke 10:25-37). Jesus was asked a question of what is needed for eternal life. He knows what’s on the heart of the lawyer who asked this question so he tells a story and asks this question: Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
This is one of my favorite parables; you can read my blog post about it here: The Real Meaning Of The Parable Of The Good Samaritan
Why tell a story and ask a question? I mean it would have been much easier to just answer his questions.
But Jesus was trying to show the lawyer that he was going about it the wrong way. His intent was wrong. He was trying to get the lawyer to evaluate his life and his heart and see that his intentions were off.
The questions Jesus asked of intent helped those on the receiving end evaluate their life and see where their hearts were truly at.
Questions Of Healing and Compassion
Throughout his time on earth Jesus healed countless people. But what’s interesting is Jesus would often ask the people if they wanted to be healed before performing a miracle. These questions would seem to have obvious answers, but Jesus uses them to get at something deeper.
Here are some examples:
Do you see anything? (Mark 8:23) – Said to a blind man. Do you see this woman? (Luke 7:44) – Said to a woman right beside him. Is there no one to condemn you? (John 8:10) – Said to a woman after everyone left. Does the Law allow healing on the Sabbath or not? (Luke 14:3) – Said to the religious leaders. And my favorite that Jesus asked a paralyzed man: Do you want to get well? (John 5:6)
Do you know what all these questions have in common? They center around someone in need.
These questions Jesus asked reveal two important lessons.
First, Jesus cares about the problems we are facing and wants to bring healing. BUT, He will only do it if we allow it. Permission is sacred, Jesus will not force anything on us. Rather he extends an invitation to a better life.
For more about why permission is sacred, check out: Behold I Stand At The Door And Knock (the surprise meaning of Revelation 3:20)
The second thing we should take note of is that Jesus wants his followers to have the same compassion he has. Maybe you noticed half the questions listed above are directed at someone that objected to Jesus healing/interacting with someone in need. Jesus is using a question to help them see their compassion is lacking. He wants them to see the hurting people around them and respond with love and compassion as he does.
Questions Of Life and Faith
Many of the questions Jesus asked centered around life and faith. These questions were aimed at causing a person to pause and reflect on what’s really important, to take a step back and see the bigger picture. These questions are a challenge to shift our focus.
Here are a few examples.
What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? (Matthew 16:26) Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? (Luke 12:26)Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Are you not of more value than the birds of the air? (Matthew 6:25-26)If God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? (Luke 11:11-13)
These questions reveal that we are often focused on the wrong thing. Don’t miss this… I don’t think we are always focused on a bad thing… Just a less important thing. We get distracted so easily by something less important. But Jesus doesn’t want us to lose sight of what’s most important.
These questions Jesus asked help us see what we have made most important and correct the priorities in our life.
Questions Of Love
I choose to end with these questions because I think they are the most incredible questions Jesus asked. He lays his heart on the line in moments of incredible vulnerability and shows his humanity.
It’s in these questions Jesus asks his disciples if they truly love him. If they actually want to be with him.
We see this early on in Jesus’ ministry in John 6. After Jesus teaches a very hard lesson, everyone listening decides following Jesus is too difficult and they get up and leave. Now it’s just Jesus and the 12 disciples, and he turns and asks: You do not want to leave too, do you? (John 6:67)
This vulnerable question reveals what Jesus is after. He wants a relationship with his people, not subservience. He will not force anyone to follow him and rather choose to pose this question in hopes that they will choose a relationship with him.
We see a similar question in John 21:15-19. Peter has denied Jesus not once, but three times. Jesus very pointedly asked Peter three times, “do you love me?”
There’s much that could be said here, this is an INCREDIBLE passage of Scripture. In brief, what we are seeing is Jesus restoring and inviting Peter back into a relationship with him. Peter blew it, but Jesus is showing that his love is greater. Jesus is showing that his desire is for a relationship.
This is true of us today. Jesus chooses to ask questions of love and invitation to us today. Why? Because he wants a relationship with you.
Closing Thoughts On The Questions Jesus Asked
Jesus preferred asking questions over giving answers. These questions continue to teach us incredible lessons today and can help us grow in our faith.
And they also teach us an important lesson about how we interact with those around us. We should be quick to ask questions and slower to give answers. The biggest life change happens when we give people space to reflect on a question rather than giving them the answer.
Spend some time reflecting on the questions Jesus asked and how you can ask more questions in your life.
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