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Panorama: 10th June 2006


JESUS’ QUESTIONS: Challenging Me to Discover Life’s Great Answers



Jay Longacre




In the realm of spirit and soul, I can be more certain of the questions than of answers.  Rather than answers, there are answering persons.  Rather than quickly respond to my ego’s need for closure and satisfaction, I need to develop a vital relationship with Jesus Christ.  My ego typically seeks immediate satisfaction and, in doing so, will settle for falsehood that satisfies rather than a less satisfying truth.  Jesus keeps me on the necessary search.

Jesus directly answers only a few questions asked in the 4 Gospels.  Jesus seems not to understand that resolving personal dilemmas is the function of religion.  In response to questions, Jesus typically:

-Keeps silent (as with Pilate Jn 19: 9),

-Returns with another question (as with Caesar’s coin Mt 22: 19),

-Offers an illustration (as with Good Samaritan Lk 10: 30ff),

-Puts the question in the inquirer’s frame of reference (as with the rich young man Mk 10: 19),

-Laments the ill will inherent in the question (as when Pharisees asked for a sign Mk 8: 12), which is used to fortify the argument.

Often, silence, prayer, and love for an opponent are the only answers.  By understanding this fundamental dynamic, I can understand that Jesus, in asking his questions, is trying to:

                   -Reposition me

                   -Make me own my unconscious biases

                   -Open my dualistic mind

                   -Challenge my image of God and the world

                   -Offer me new creative possibilities

Jesus does not wait for specific answers, but intends to call forth an answering person:

-Wanting to be in relationship with me,

-Intending to inform me, and

-Initiate a process of transformation in me.

Jesus’ questions along with parables reveal a unique style of evangelization in encountering souls.  This style is contrary to modern televangelism or a mainline approach of ‘Dear Abbey’ bits of advice and workable solutions for daily living – mere stabilization of the status quo by use of platitudes and euphemisms.  Jesus destabilizes false assumptions upon which persons build their world-view.  “In thinking, the majority is always wrong!”  Jesus understands that persons will return to the dominant consciousness unprepared to deal with their inner conflicts or critique of others.  Unspoken assumptions are embedded in every aspect of culture causing the message to become irrelevant.  Only relationships and life style form a firm foundation.

Jesus asks questions that unnerve, realign, transform, rather than moving people to higher moral ground, certitude, or ego superiority.  Jesus subverts cultural or theological assumptions that persons must face.  Persons are like the ‘emperor without clothes’ not in control, but thereby open to grace.  Without answers to hard questions, I allow God to change me, rather than my trying to change others.

“God alone is good” (Mk 10: 18); I cannot make myself good with glib answers to unanswerable questions.  “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”  “Follow me!”  The rich young man wanted to believe himself to be good, rather than rejoicing in God’s goodness.  This is the problem of religion based primarily on morality and satisfying answers rather than based on the questioning person.  The rich young man missed the primary call to relationship; ‘Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him.”  The young man, however, could only hear his own questions.

To be continued

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