Tag: Questions Jesus Asked

28. What do you want Me to do for you?

Matthew 20:32 So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

Read: Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43 – handout

Setting: near Jericho

about to enter Jericho, accompanied by large crowd with some going on ahead (Luke 18:35-36, 38)

leaving Jericho followed by large crowd (Matt. 20:29; Mark 10:46)

how many blind men? one (Mark 10:46; Luk 18:35)? two (Matt. 20:30)? is Mark’s Bartimaeus Luke’s certain blind man?

contradictions? or can the accounts be reconciled?

one city, two miracles — or — two cities, one miracle

Another possible way to harmonize these passages is to understand that at the time of Christ there actually were two Jerichos. First, there was the Jericho of Old Testament history (Joshua 6:1ff.; 1 Kings 16:34). In the first century, however, that city existed as a small village lying mostly in ruins, and about two miles south of that site was the new Jericho built by Herod the Great. The Lord, therefore, traveling toward Jerusalem, would first pass through the Old Testament Jericho, and then, some two miles to the southwest, go through Herodian Jericho. Accordingly, the references of Matthew and Mark to Jesus leaving Jericho would allude to old Jericho, whereas Luke’s observation of Jesus drawing near to Jericho would refer to the newer city. Hence, the miracles under consideration may have been performed between the two Jerichos (Robertson, 1930, 1:163).

one more tidbit: perhaps as many as 10% of population suffered from blindness – ophthalmic conjunctivitis, spread by flies, aggravated by sand/dust/dry air

Person(s) being questioned:

blind man/men seated by the road, high traffic area, almost certainly begging… the only option for someone with serious disability

unemployed and unemployable; also social stigma attached to blindness – “Rabbi, who sinned…?” (John 9:2); and were disqualified from certain duties in the church (Lev. 21:17-24)

God did expect his people to show compassion to the blind (Lev. 19:14; Deut. 27:18) but… often not the reality of daily life

Question behind the question:

you beg for mercy, you ask for help, precisely what do you expect me to do

what kind of “help” do you want – the kind that does everything for you? or doing what you cannot do for yourself?

if my definition of mercy/help is different from yours, what will you do with it? will you still accept it?

Expected response:

hard to know exactly what to expect:

handout – generous, perhaps even lavish grant of money or tangible resources; require someone to act as caregiver

healing – what they asked for, recovery of their sight so they could have normal lives

forgiveness/eternal life – a possibility, since they called Jesus by Messianic title (Son of David)

btw, same is true today – may have strong suspicions what to expect but don’t always know for certain

Jesus’ point:

what someone in need wants not always what is best for them

the one seeking to meet the need should use discernment and communicate clearly

the person asking may need help distinguishing between felt need and true need – not Advil for a headache caused by a brain tumor

Modern Application:

not only have lots of people with their hand out, have many others to tell us what the needy need

is true at traffic lights, also true inside the church – here’s what we need to give people to get them to come

our task: help those who will be helped with the help they truly need as God supplies opportunity and resources


27. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?

Matthew 20:22 But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.”

Read: Matthew 20:17-28; Mark 10:35-45; see alsoLuke 18:31-34


on the road to Jerusalem along with the Twelve and many other people – Jesus in the lead, those with him amazed at his boldness and afraid of what might happen

“took the twelve aside [privately]” Matt. 20:17, confirming worst fears had they been able to understand full weight of his words

immediately follows third declaration of destination and purpose; keep in mind description in Luke, “they understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them”

Salome (Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40) and her two sons, James and John, approach Jesus more closely – perhaps trying to have somewhat private conversation

Person(s) being questioned:

all 3 probably involved in asking question – maybe railroaded by mom, “forced” to go along; given request, couldn’t let mom do all the asking; were “sons of thunder”, more likely willing participants

James and John the focus of Jesus rebuke and follow-on question – don’t know Jesus’ tone of voice but… they’ll be embarrassed anyway, targets for the Ten

ultimately Jesus will use this “teachable moment” to give more instruction on what leadership in Christ’s kingdom involves

Question behind the question:

Are you able to suffer what I am to suffer?

Are you prepared for the hardships of the Christian life?

Do you really grasp the literal truth of what I just told you?

How far along are you in understanding Messiah’s true mission?

Expected response:

given their question, the one they gave – any lessser answer would automatically “disqualify” from positions they sought

if answer is “no”, they would not merit authority / responsibility second only to King; to ask for that when admitting they were unqualified has its own problems from human POV

Peter, one of ten who got upset at James and John, declared would die for Jesus (John 13:36-37), then bailed soon after

none of Twelve had sufficient knowledge base or understanding of Jesus’ teaching to accurately answer his question

Jesus prefaced his question w/ “you don’t know what you’re asking” – could have followed his question w/ “you don’t know what I’m asking”

Jesus’ point:

1 – James and John didn’t understand cost of identifying with Jesus

Jesus’ response to their answer: 11 of 12 (incl. Paul) would die as martyrs (James first), 1 in exile; all would suffer for their faith

2 – James and John didn’t understand nature of leadership in Christ’s Kingdom

based on Jesus’ follow-on (v.25ff) they sought position of authority; should have been looking for place of service

3 – James and John didn’t understand reward in Christ’s Kingdom based on grace, not merit

even when merit appears to be factor, God’s rewards still gracious – best effort of greatest saint always less than perfect

Modern Application:

1 – be prepared to suffer because of identifying with Christ: Matt. 5:10-11; John 15:20; 1 Peter

2 – service with servant’s heart is path to true greatness in Christ’s kingdom

26. Why have you been standing here idle all day?

Matthew 20:6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’

Read: Matthew 20:1-16


Jesus asked question in context of a “kingdom of heaven” parable… told on road after encounter with young ruler

perhaps “direct answer” to Peter’s question “what’s in this kingdom thing for us”

is possible, if not likely, passing by marketplace with day laborers gathered looking for work

Person(s) being questioned:

in the parable, Jesus the landowner – laborers his people – vineyard the church

asks question of laborers who have been stainding in marketplace, waiting all day to be hired

Question behind the question:

do you really want to work?

if I give you the opportunity to work, will you take it?

will you trust me for just compensation?

Expected response:

the one given was best one – had filled out lots of applications, sent resumes, no response

could have given lots of other reasons

work too hard, pay too little; no accommodations for disability; lose other benefits

no assignment of blame, simple statement of fact… yet much is implied in response

Jesus’ point:

expects his laborers to be willing to work at all times

expects laborers to be ready to work even when prospects might be slim

expects laborers to work to best of ability no matter how much of day is left

point of parable:

God doesn’t pay piece rate – he graciously rewards faithfulness (not success) according to his sovereign scale

God expects his laborers to trust him to reward justly according as he knows what is sufficient

Modern Application:

Jesus’ points still apply

can also add couple things:

Gentiles coming into Kingdom later in the day than Jews does not diminsh their reward

coming to faith “later in life” does not automatically diminish reward

25. Why do you call Me good?

Matthew 19:17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

Read: Matthew 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 18:18-30


Trans-jordan area, perhaps near Jericho (Mark 10:1) — just leaving an area of ministry (Matt. 19:15) — on the road (Mark 10:17) — in company with the Twelve

Person(s) being questioned:

a young man (Matt. 19:20) — someone with authority — (Luke 18:18) — had great possessions (Matt. 19:22; Mark 10:22) — was very rich (Luke 18:23)

wanted to be certain nothing was missing from his bucket list

Question behind the question:

How do you define good?

Do you know who you’re calling good?

In your view, what does it mean for you to be good?

In God’s view, what does it mean for you to be good?

What is required for you to be good?

Expected response:

You seem like a good person and you do a lot of good things.

response would almost certainly focus on externally observable things – “what good shall I do…”

young man’s question and subsequent answer limited to actions, not including motivation – loving God with “strength”, perhaps “mind”, “heart” not so much… esp. when it came to neighbor

Jesus’ point:

There is more to being good than doing good.

Thank God he has designed us so those who are not good can do good.

Only God by nature is good; every human being (Jesus only excepted) is by nature evil – see Eph. 2:1-3

Doing good cannot make you good – only God can accomplish that: conversion + sanctification + glorification

Modern Application:

World’s philosophy: mankind basically good; how one turns out depends on external conditions / influences

based on that, solution to social / personal problems requires change of circumstances, influences, opportunities

Christian view: mankind is fallen, evil at heart; how one turns out depends on heart condition, internal influences

based on that, full solution to social / personal problems requires change of heart and nature through power of Gospel and Holy Spirit

is just as true for believer as for unregenerate – believer given new nature but retains sin-corrupted other stuff (Rom. 7:15ff)

child of God never outgrows dependence on God, need for repentance / forgiveness, ongoing work of Gospel and Spirit

unbelievers can do less evil, we can encourage better behavior – must view solution to their problems from perspective of Gospel first, other helps second

24. Does he not leave the ninety – nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?

Matthew 18:12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety – nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?

Read: Matthew 18:10-14; Luke 15:4-7

see also Mark 9:33-37


first telling – probably Peter’s house in Capernaum – Matt. 17:24-25, near beginning of final year of minstry; the disciples plus others present (little child v.2 belonged to someone!)

second telling – on his way to Jerusalem (Luke 13:22); motley crowd (Luke 15:1-2) – tax collectors, sinners, Pharisees, scribes; toward the end of final year

first of series of three stories in one parable: lost sheep, lost coin, lost son – leading up in growing value

Person(s) being questioned:

the twelve in Matthew, the crowd in general in Luke – Pharisees and scribes not interested in story time, tax collectors and sinners a different story

also consider Jesus’ use of parables – Matt. 13:10ff And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.”

Question behind the question:

what is the value of a child?

what is the value of a brother? a social outcast? an outsider to the faith?

what / who determines individual’s standing or status in Christ’s kingdom?

how much effort do you put forth to rescue someone who has “lost their way“? (Matt. 18:15ff)

how much effort do you put forth to rescue someone who is “lost”? (Matt. 18:11, 14)

Expected response:

on surface… a rhetorical question – obvious answer is “of course he does; doesn’t have whole flock if one missing, probably couldn’t afford loss of animal”

Jesus might not have expected “spiritual” answer – that’s ok, still an effective teaching method

a way of using something from everyday life easy to relate to in order to make point, teach spiritual lesson, iow an illustration

important they get obvious answer right, than can be coached / led into further understanding and application

Jesus’ point:

things people use to determine / assign value, status not same as God uses

following Christ means seeing others “through his eyes”, reaching conclusions / setting priorities according to his example

member of the flock no more or less valuable than outsider, no more/less deserving of needed attention

restoration / reconciliation / rescue always source of great rejoicing, celebration

Modern Application:

personal attitudes toward others – brothers/sisters, children, the lost

corporate attitudes toward members / non-members

church “program” development / priorities

23. How long shall I bear with you?

Matthew 17:17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.”

Read: Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:37-42


Jesus along with Peter/James/John down from Mount of Transfiguration – join rest of the disciples

large crowd, scribes disputing with the 9 – uncertain what debate was about, Jesus asked but didn’t get an answer

whole crowd saw Jesus, amazed, ran to greet him – man w/ demon-possessed boy cries out for help

Person(s) being questioned:

not entirely clear: “Jesus answered and said” – Matt, Luke; “He answered him and said” or “He replied to them”, Mark (αὐτῷ vs αὐτοῖς)

all 3 Gospels, two occurrences of you that follow plural in every case – probably directed to entire group with perhaps exception of disciples – “faithless and perverse”

tone of voice, body language, indicators of Jesus’ mindset absent from text

Question behind the question:

could be some different nuances depending on which subset of whole group most prominently in Jesus’ mind/focus

scribes: how long must I, son of God, endure evil opposition to Father’s redemptive purpose?

crowd: how long must I, son of Man, watch throngs of people intentionally misled, consequently struggling with faith?

father (as representative man): how long must I be able to only help people in a limited way?

disciples: how long before you can effectively carry on the ministry I will entrust to you? why aren’t you further progressed? better focused?

Expected response:

Jesus didn’t expect anyone in the crowd to have a response… if they even heard it

probably Jesus himself didn’t know precise date/time of events that made up last 6 weeks of earthly ministry

is kind of question someone asks to help communicate state of mind, also to incite target of question to greater effort

Jesus’ point:

Jesus’ earthly ministry had built-in limits

the Father’s timeline, and he couldn’t rush it – John 8:20 “His hour had not yet come” vs. John 12:23 “the hour has come”

the Father’s plan, and he couldn’t re-order it – events had to occur in the order the Father had determined

were things still future that would have significant impact on belief and understanding

Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection not only the focal point of his ministry, also single greatest contributor to encouraging faith in genuine seekers

miracles leading up to time of his arrest should have been sufficient, resurrection was the big one

all of that plus ascension had to come before outpouring of Holy Spirit – would provide help for followers that Jesus by himself could not accomplish

also things Jesus would accomplish as part of high-priestly ministry as mediator from heaven he couldn’t do from earth

argument from silence but… John 21:3ff last record of disciples going fishing – more thoroughly focused on ministry after that

was lack of intensive focus and dependence on God and his power that hindered their ministry: Matt. 17:19ff

Modern Application:

two things Jesus identified as problems with his generation: unbelief and distorted priorities/thinking

we have full complement of resources: complete text of Scripture; full-fledged ministry of Holy Spirit; completed work of redemption and intercessory ministry of Christ – iow, if Twelve had an excuse, we do not have same one(s)

final word: small helping of dependent faith equips believer to achieve what appears impossible – results depend on object of faith, not its size


22. What will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Matthew 16:26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Read: Matthew 16:24-27; Mark 8:34-38; Luke 9:23-26

Cf. Matt. 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8


follow-on from Peter’s confession – “Then He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things” Mark 8:31

no specific location given beyond “the region of Caesarea Philippi” – could have been ongoing topic of conversation while traveling through the area

cautioned Twelve not to reveal his true identity, but continued teaching openly about his destiny to Twelve and crowds

Peter challenged Jesus’ teaching, Jesus told him to get back in line – called everyone w/i earshot over, disciples in front

strong instruction: “if you want to keep following me, here is where it leads… for you and me” – then the paradox: save/lose life

Person(s) being questioned:

directed toward both Twelve and surrounding crowd – Jesus obviously still mindful of larger picture, called the crowd over with disciples (Mark 8:34)

at same time, wants to drive these concepts home with disciples – intensity of Jesus’ teaching on the increase as he gets closer to the cross, wants them to have crystal clear understanding

Question behind the question:

What are you devoting your life to acquiring / achieving? Is it a wise investment? a good deal?

How much is your life worth?

Are you willing to trust Jesus with it? …and with everything else?

Expected response:

a question that has no quantifiable ($’s) answer… and that’s Jesus’ point – is an impossibility that millions still keep trying to satisfy

Jesus knows everyone knows that… or at least suspects – self-deception fueled by sin and Satan more palatable than truth

Jesus also knows everyone, at least in own mind if not spoken, has some defense why their chosen solution must be acceptable

Jesus’ point:

in God’s economy the entire physical universe does not have sufficient value to him to redeem a single life – yet God requires the life of every sinner, without exception

there is a solution… remember “new” emphasis of Jesus’ teaching: his death/burial/resurrection as only acceptable ransom for life of another

but… are two paradoxes, assertions that seem to be contradictory but really are not

1. the one who thinks he lives is dead already 1 Cor. 1:18; Eph. 2:4-5

2. the one who dies will live John 11:25-26

6 repetitions, 3 variations: Matt 10:39; 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; 17:33; John 12:25

following Christ requires giving up all claim to life and possessions – individual’s claim in direct competition to Jesus’

like all other expectations Jesus has for his followers, no via media – is strictly either/or… remember… 2 masters

for all his immediate followers but one, required giving lives (literally) for sake of Gospel

Modern Application:

answers to Jesus’ questions haven’t changed and… his point still the same too

any monuments we build in this life for this world stay here – only what is done for sake of the Gospel is different

we cannot give any more for the Gospel than Jesus did – following him requires giving all we have to his use

should have same perspective / worldview as Paul: see Phil. 1:12-30