Jesus Questions

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If Jesus is the answer, why’d he have so many questions? Could it be that questions are the answer? (The title of one of my next book projects!)

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  • His questions were designed to reveal our need of Him and point to Him as the One, and only One who could save us.

  • nah. don’t think so.

  • Right.

    Jesus did not know the answers. He was asking us to enlighten Him.

    He knew what was in their hearts. He knew what they were thinking. He knows how lost sheep act and what their desires are.

    He still does.

  • Try Mohammed…or Buddha.

    Maybe they have the answers.

  • i’m not looking for answers anymore steve. i don’t need them. my peace is in the questions.

  • Carol

    Philosophers often compare Jesus to Socrates because Socrates was also more interested in getting us to ask the right questions of ourselves than spoon-feeding superficial, simplistic answers.

    And both, of course, ended up being branded as an enemy of their societies.

    I got this Daily Meditation email this morning from Richard Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation:


    We are told that St. Francis used to spend whole nights praying the same prayer: “Who are you, God? And who am I?” Evelyn Underhill claims it’s almost the perfect prayer. The abyss of your own soul and the abyss of the nature of God have opened up, and you are falling into both of them simultaneously. Now you are in a new realm of Mystery and grace, where everything good happens!

    Notice how the prayer of Francis is not stating anything but just asking open-ended questions. It is the humble, seeking, endless horizon prayer of the mystic that is offered out of complete trust. You know that such a prayer will be answered, because there has already been a previous answering, a previous epiphany, a previous moment where the ground opened up and you knew you were in touch with infinite mystery and you knew you were yourself infinite mystery. You only ask such grace-filled questions, or any question for that matter, when they have already begun to be answered.

  • How could Jesus be human if he didn’t ask questions? Even he, the “son of God” — i.e the mythic figure with the closest possible relationship to God — asked questions, so how could questions be anything but good?

  • i like that carol. and i agree jenny.

  • The Jesus of evangelical religion have “answers” to all your problems. The real Jesus outside the religion wants you to respond. We are ready to think? After all what is wrong with asking, we do not know everything?

  • Jesus didn’t come here to learn about the world. But to save it.

    As he grew and lived, the world revealed to him just how lost it really was (is).

    The key is to realize this, and to realize where the Living Truth is.

    clue: it’s not in ourselves

  • so if the truth isn’t within us then how can the kingdom of god be within us?

  • Carol

    But it is, Steve, in our true selves, that is–the true self that is created in the image and likeness of God.

    The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God. –Saint Irenaeus

    In Orthodox theology, the two words “image” and “likeness” are not used interchangeably as they are for Roman Catholics and Protestants. For Orthodox Christians, “image” denotes the powers and faculties with which every human being is endowed by God from the first moment of his existence. “Likeness” is the assimilation, the growth process to God through virtue and grace. We call this growth process “theosis.” For Western theology, man was created perfect in the absolute sense and therefore, when he fell, he fell completely away from God. For Orthodox theology, man was created perfect in the potential sense.
    –Fr. George Nicozisin

  • I think the Jesus of Christianity does not like too many questions but have magical answers to all problems. I love the historical Jesus! This does not escape the questions.

  • Jacob

    God is so far removed from our conceptual boxes we can only really understand Him to the degree He reveals Himself in us and to us. If I consider how far He has taken me out of my previous religious constraints then the way forward seems endless. How will I ever comprehend His fullness? So who do the people say He is? For each of us He’s different, depending on many things. One of the biggest influences on our perception of God is that silly pre-programmed pre-liberated religious dogma that got us figuring God on a carnal level. God is spirit and seeks such to worship Him. So what do we do? We organize a physical singalong and call that worship!!We’re trying to squeeze God into our little teeny weeny box again. Sadly anything that sticks out gets chopped of.

  • David Waters

    because the answers are within you.

  • A baptist church on my street had a sign out the other day:

    “Life poses questions,
    Jesus is the answer.
    Join us!”


    I thought the sign would have been better as:

    “Jesus posed questions,
    Life provides the answers.
    Come live it with us!”

    The answers that matter are in the doing.

  • BW

    “Who appointed me as your judge?” Good question…sadly, fundamentalist xtians is one answer.

    @Steve Martin – In reading your posts, it has become obvious that you come on here to promote your brand of xtianity. You do not come with an open heart and mind and willingness to see other opinions, but to proselytize.

  • Ron

    But the Kingdom of God is not within us. When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees he told them it was among them, and that in fact pointed to himself. Note the use of “hour” in John, and that the hour had come once his death was inevitable. The Kingdom came in the person of Jesus, but it does not fully come until he returns (hence the issue of the already/not yet tension of eschatology in the gospels).

    As for why Jesus asked questions, it was for the same reason that Socrates did: people value answers more if they find them themselves than if you give them the answers. Simple education 101. Heck, again, look at the beginning of John when Jesus questioned Nathan in order for Nathan to decipher the answer that Jesus already knew.

  • The Truth comes to us from outside of ourselves. We can’t do it, or come up with it, or believe in it on our own. Jesus told Nicodemus as much and then many others when he said, “no one CAN come to me except those drawn by the Father.”

    Faith is a gift. We can’t know the Truth without it.

    “I was blind, and now I see”, captures it pretty well.

  • Kris

    Questions are good because they lead us to pursue the answer…even if we never find it the pursuit can be fulfilling and often yields more questions. God gave us brain to think and we should use it.

  • Carol

    Christine, “life provides answers;” but we humans can only learn them through trial and error.

    A success-oriented society that doesn’t give people the freedom to fail doesn’t produce many sages.

    One of the complaints I keep hearing about our youth is that they are *lazy.* I don’t think that they are lazy, I think the lack of initiative comes from fear of failure.

    I keep telling people that I don’t have failures, I have learning experiences.

  • Carol

    Truth is outside of us; but it is also within us. Scripture certainly witnesses to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Of course, the Spirit can be “quenched” or “grieved” rather than discerned and welcomed.

    Fundamentalists who claim that they don’t need any theological/spiritual formation because they have “Jesus in their hearts” certainly believe that they have the Truth within them. The problem is that their “Jesus” doesn’t ask them any hard questions; but is more like a child’s “invisible friend” who is always on thier side whenever they find themselves in a conflict with others.

    “There’s a lovely Hasidic story of a rabbi who always told his people that if they studied the Torah, it would put Scripture on their hearts. One of them asked, “Why on our hearts, and not in them?” The rabbi answered, “Only God can put Scripture inside. But reading sacred text can put it on your heart, and then when your hearts break, the holy words will fall inside.”
    — Anne Lamott (Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith)

  • Titfortat

    Lol, it is interesting that even after all these years I have been reading Davids blog, Steve still has all the answers. I think he secretly craves Dave’s questions though. 🙂

  • faithlessinfatima

    Steve Martin….Pavlovian dog for Christ

  • Carol

    Why is it that whenever politics or religion are discussed the move from issues to personal insults, which generates more heat than light, is almost inevitable?

  • David says, “My peace is in the questions.

    This is a nice little adage, as adage goes, I guess. But fleshing that out would be more interesting.

    People using the same adage could be using any of the following positions or more:

    (1) The question can’t be answered because it makes no sense.
    (2) The question will never be answered because we will never no.
    (3) All questions are cool — pass that doobie over here again!
    (4) I just want to be everyone’s friend so I am ignoring the questions
    (5) Questioning gets me in trouble so I will just say “I embrace questions.”

    (other suggestions?)

    So I am saying: While adages are fun — without fleshing them out a bit, like are like many cartoons — people just interpret them the way they want to and no real communication takes place. But sometimes, no real communication feels safer, I guess, eh?

  • all interesting options sabio. but what about (6) Life is full of wonder and mystery which doctrine simply can’t appreciate or capture ?

  • @ NP,
    I totally agree with number 6 !

    BUT, when a question is asked, #6 does not tell us anything about how you handle questions. #1-5 do — number 6 is just skirting the questions. #6 , no matter how much I agree, is no more substantial than saying, “I love the Olympic Games !” .

    When you say your peace is in the questions, we have no idea what you mean. Which questions? All questions? Is that just an adage to avoid questions? I get that some questions are meaningless, ridiculous, vague, unimportant and such, but then label them such. Or tell us what you think instead giving us aphorisms that people can interpret any feel-good way that they want.

    Telling us that you are Ignoring the questions, deeming them unintelligent or unimportant or unanswerable — those are meaningful responses but avoiding them with platitudes (which I know you yourself have criticized with cartoons) is (to me) not really saying anything even though it makes the pretense of saying something.

  • You want me to give you A question? How about “What’s the meaning of life?” A Calvinist might jump in and say, “To worship God and enjoy him forever!” Why not sit with the question? But I’m going to have to let you use your imagination on this one Sabio 😉

  • @ Naked Pastor David,
    That is a great question, and a great example!

    For me, “What is the meaning of life” is a meaningless question and just reveals the presuppositions of the questioner. So that is how I answer that question. I would say: “What is the meaning of rocks” has the same quality of a question as “What is the meaning of Life.” It is an anthropomorphic delusional reflex to expect meaning where it does not exist.

    Many people can’t parse the question that way. Other people may have the question haunt them and wonder: “Gee, maybe there is one purpose, one Meaning, one goal for all life — or at least for humans — and I guess I am suppose to find it.”

    For those sorts of people (who are haunted by the question) rather than slide into nasty Calvinist solutions, they could say:

    (1) I don’t know and it I don’t think it is important for me to pretend to know.

    (2) I don’t know, I don’t think we can know.

    (3) I think the answer is to love each other.

    (4) I don’t know but I wonder about it all the time and that makes me feel good even though I can never answer it.

    or anything but: “my peace is in the questions” because that really does not tell us anything about what they are really thinking and really doing with the question. And so people can interpret that any way they want to fit their worldview.

    For instance, if someone asked you:

    (a) Is Jesus a god?
    (b) Does the Bible have guidelines for living that are significantly more accurate than non-religious folks have written?

    Would you simply respond, “my peace is in the questions”?

    If so, then the phrase shows it true colors. And if not, then you should tell us what type of questions “My peace is the questions?” is meant to be useful for and how.

    But adages, aphorisms and platitudes sell better than the analytic approach that I am suggesting may be more productive and direct.

    I hope this makes my point more clear, or perhaps it is too irritating to have the phrase challenged. But, I love questioning — even adages about questions. I actually question this to hopefully improve understanding — maybe in the end it will be my understanding alone which will be improved. 😉

  • Carol

    We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us. – Marcel Proust

    “If knowing answers to life’s questions is absolutely necessary to you, then forget the journey. You will never make it, for this is a journey of unknowables –of unanswered questions, enigmas, incomprehensibles, and most of all, things unfair.” — Madame Jeanne Guyon

    I want to ask you, as clearly as I can, to bear with patience all that is unresolved in your heart, and try to love the questions themselves, as if they were rooms yet to enter or books written in a foreign language. Don’t dig for answers that can’t be given you yet: you cannot live them now. For everything must be lived.
    Live the questions now, perhaps then, someday, you will gradually, without noticing, live into the answer. ~Rainer Maria Rilke, Worpswede, July 16, 1903, Letters to a Young Poet

  • Carol

    Communication is one thing, communion is quite another. Narcissistic egoism makes communion impossible, even communication becomes exceedingly difficult.

    “And the deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion. It is wordless. It is beyond words, and it is beyond speech, and it is beyond concept. Not that we discover a new unity. We discover an older unity. My dear brothers, we are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity.” –Thomas Merton, Asian Journal

    “A human being is a part of the whole, called by us Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest–a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty.”~Albert Einstein

    “If I live in a world that has no meaning beyond my own biography, my own personal pains and joys, I will experience an emptiness that always threatens to render even my most joyous moments “meaningless.” Only through participation in a universe whose ultimate meaning is larger than my own life and life span can this psycho-spiritual problem be resolved.” ~Jeremy Taylor, “Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill”

    “The point of the spiritual life is not our personal private holiness but rather opening our selves so that the life of God can pour out on the community.” ~ Maggie Ross

    “Attachment to spiritual things is… just as much an attachment as inordinate love of anything else.”- Thomas Merton

    “The life of the soul is not knowledge, it is love, since love is the act of the supreme faculty, the will, by which man is formally united to the final end of all his strivings–by which man becomes one with God.
    ….The heights that can be reached by metaphysical speculation introduce a man into a realm of pure and subtle pleasure that offers the most nearly permanent delights you can find in the natural order. When you go one step higher, and base your speculations on premises that are revealed, the pleasure gets deeper and more perfect still.  Yet even though the subject matter may be the mysteries of the Christian faith, the manner of contemplating them, speculative and impersonal, may still not transcend the natural plane, at least as far as practical consequences go.”
    –Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain

  • I loved your Hassidic story, Carol. Only when our heart breaks will the scripture fall into the heart.

    This is parallel to the “questions”. A question is a kind of heart break, a searching, a needing, a pain. Only through them do we seem to learn and grow. So, therefore, while questions and pain seem inevitable, I would not say that they are my “peace”.

    In terms of “answers”, we know that we cannot have all the answers. But having a question means being on the search for an answer. This is the quest for truth. This quest should never be abandoned. This would be kind of resignation and throwing in the towel.

    However, knowing that what we CAN know is certainly limited does cut us down to size somewhat and brings us face to face with mystery and the grandeur and glory of God. We simply won’t have all the answers and we can rest in the fact that there surely are insurmountable obstacles to our knowing some things. This is where faith does come in. Trusting beyond the limits of our knowledge.

    But there are things we can know. And this I assert. I haven’t read enough Kant to understand everything about what people say in an anti-reality philosophical vein. And with our knowing it is such a thing as a lamp in the dark. The closer we are to the lamp the more clearly we see. The further we get from it the less clearly we see. There is a gradient.

    Jesus did not ask questions because he did not know. That’s certainly never implied anywhere.

  • To Luther, this lamp is the gospel. We have been clearly told that salvation is available to us. As we get further away from this matter, we cannot necessarily explain everything fully.

  • I have to agree with Brigitte.
    I don’t think the various Gospel authors had Jesus asking question to show he did not know, nor to say “my peace is in the questions” but instead as a mere rhetorical tool to make a point and tell what he thought the answers were.

    There may be differences in opinion of the gospel writers thought those answers were, but I think it was a mere tool to give an answer. Each of the Gospel writers made Jesus say what they wanted him to say, and changing his questions into mysticism would be a similar move, I think. Everybody wants Jesus to talk for them.

  • katiepearl

    Two stories with lessons for anyone who thinks they are a teacher;

    Elisha and Naaman. Naaman goes off with the idea that he can take bags of Israel’s dirt back home to worship God on. And Elisha’s response to that is; a. Come back and do an Alpha course b. You’ll go to hell c. Go in peace.

    Peter’s great confession that Jesus is the Christ. And Jesus answers, a. blessed are you, you read that in a good book b. blessed are you, you really listened in church c. blessed are you, you learned this from God not human teaching.

    The insight we get for ourselves is far more valuable that what we get from teaching.

  • VanPastorMan

    One example of Jesus showing his humanity and the limits he placed upon himself by becoming human, was when he asked who touched him. He truly did not know who it was who touched him. Why? It’s because the Son of God became flesh and emptied himself of his omniscience. What I am saying is that the Son of God possessed the ability to know everything, but by becoming human he gave up the right to use this ability. Most of the other questions that Jesus asks are the questions teachers would ask their disciples to get them to understand a biblical truth. Who do they say that I am? This was asked so Peter would proclaim the truth. “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

  • Carol

    Well, VanPastorMan, that is one interpretation.

    I would speculate that perhaps Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” may have been because he wanted the woman to come out of the shadows of cultural disrespectibility and let him heal her spirit as well as her body.

    Of course, we are both engaging in speculative interpretation/theology, not dogmatic theology; so neither of our opinions should pose a challenge to anyone’s faith. We are all free to express our opinions; but we are not entitled to have them taken seriously. I think it is the egoistic expectation to have our personal beliefs taken seriously, however subjective they may be, that causes so much flaming in religious and political discussions.

  • faithlessinfatima

    @ Carol…I agree my choice of metaphor used to describe Steve’s robotic replies might read as a low blow, but there is a context that he, as well as others, shld be familiar with. Recently, Steve said proudly that his pastor was a “bulldog for Christ” which I found to be quite an amusing image.Given that,what other canine analog would be appropriate for someone who thinks tunnel vision is a hero’s journey? Btw, I have been enjoying yr thoughtful posts. Mmmm…I’m wondering what breed the Nakedpastor might be?

  • That got me laughing !
    “What breed is your Jesus-dawg”?

  • I’m a mixture of Bulldog and Shitzu = Bullshit!

  • There’d be a death threat on me for that comment if I were talking about Islamic figures.
    All this imagery mixed because:
    (1) I just wrote a poem about my dog.
    (2) Thinking of David as a dog
    (3) And wondering where “faithlessinfatima” comes from: ?daughter of Mohammed = Fatima

    Yeah, the link did not get moderated – thanx David.

    “Bullshitz” is funny, David — I hope more folks contribute.
    Let me try:
    “Wetter Poo” (Wetterhound + Poodle)

  • Carol

    Good one, David!

  • faithlessinfatima

    Sabio…Fatima has a Christian(Our Lady of Fatima…Portugal)reference as well, but my origins are not so dramatic. I happen to be almost a neighbour of David’s and coincidentally I often see him walking his dog…I think it’s a Bibliodoodle.:)

  • BW

    Excellent point regarding speculative interpretation Carol.

  • Thanx, Fati!
    The bibliodoodle was funny. David may also be a:
    “Question Mongrel”

  • Titfortat

    I think Dave is a Golden Retriever. 😉