5 penetrating questions Jesus asks

Bible in 5


by Amy Ekeh

Jesus was a master teacher. But he certainly was not the kind of teacher who dished out pat answers. In fact, according to those who have counted, Jesus was asked 183 questions in the Gospels, and he only directly answered three of them. Jesus himself asked hundreds of questions. Hundreds! Why does a teacher ask questions rather than just spouting answers? To make students think, of course. And we, as Jesus’ students today, continue to think about these questions from our master teacher. They are a wonderful starting place for self-reflection and conversation with Christ.


1.“Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29)

This is the central question of the Gospels. It was posed to Jesus’ disciples, and it is posed to each and every person who reads or hears the Gospel proclaimed. Who is this Jesus of Nazareth?A Gospel is not a biography. Biographies can be read and tossed aside. A Gospel is a bold proclamation of faith in Jesus, and as such, it demands a response. Will we believe or not? Who do we say that Jesus is? Our answer to this question may evolve throughout our lives. At times,Jesus may be more of a teacher, a broth-er, a friend, or a healer. At others, he maybe Lord and God, Good Shepherd, or ourBeginning and End. How do you answer him today?


2.“Do you love me?” (John 21:16)

New Testament scholar Raymond Brown pointed out that Jesus asked Peter two questions: “Who do you say that I am?” and “Do you love me?” Peter, the rock on whom the Church was built (see Matthew 16:18), tended to be an impulsive responder, leading with his heart. He responded without hesitation, “You are the Messiah,” (Mark 8:29) and “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you!” (John 21:16). John’s Gospel tells us that it distressed Peter greatly when Jesus repeatedly asked if he loved him (see John 21:17), and yet this repetition allowed Peter three opportunities to declare his love for Jesus. Has Jesus ever asked you this question?


3. Why are you terrified?” (Matthew 8:26)

This particular question may seem a bit unfair. After all, the poor disciples were in a boat in the midst of a violent storm. We are told that “the boat was being swamped” and that “[Jesus] was asleep.” Who wouldn’t be afraid? Yes, the disciples had seen Jesus heal the sick and cast out demons. But this was apparently the first time they saw his mastery over even “the winds and the sea.” It amazed them. We, too, will be buffeted and swamped by violent waves, and Jesus may seem to be sleeping. But we need not panic, and we need not fear. Jesus can rebuke the winds that rage around us, bringing about “great calm” (Matthew 8:26). Trust trumps fear.


4. “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but not do what I command?” (Luke 6:46)

I’ve always found this to be one of the most chilling verses in all of Scripture. This question comes as part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain, spoken directly to his disciples. In other words, Jesus is not directing this question to lukewarm or uncommitted followers. He is directing it toward those who have already made a clear choice to follow him.

But Jesus knows the human heart. He knows how easy it is to say all the right things, to look like a committed follower on the outside (“Lord, Lord”) but still be unwilling to give ourselves over completely to his will (“do what I command”). We’ve all heard this question in our hearts. It is penetrating indeed.


5. “If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest?” (Luke 12:26)

Now we get a dose of common sense from Jesus our teacher. In Jesus’ discourse on worry (it’s worth reading in full; see Luke 12:22-34), Jesus teaches us not to worry. And what is the key to not worrying? Total dependence on God. Like the ravens and the flowers, we are to let God take care of us. Jesus wants us to face reality: We don’t have control over every-thing that happens to us. When we try to control everything, our anxiety and worry only grow. Surrender to God is an art. It is the art of gospel living! How will we respond when Jesus asks us why we are afraid, or why we worry so much? We live in a stressful world, but we have a loving teacher in Jesus. Respond to him from the depths of your heart.

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