Tag: Questions Jesus Asked

86. Are there not twelve hours in the day?

John 11:9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.

Read: John 11:7-15 

 

Setting:

Jesus and disciples had been in Jerusalem (John 10:23); Jews accused Jesus of blasphemy, tried to stone him (10:31, 33, 39)

Jesus escaped from his enemies, went across the Jordan to where he was baptized, continued ministering from there

received word from Mary and Martha about Lazarus, waited another two days, then said “Let’s go to Judea”; disciples question wisdom and Jesus responds

Person(s) being questioned:

directed to the Twelve – “they want to kill you, are you sure about this?” – yes, here’s why

Question behind the question:

What do you think I should be doing?

What do you think you should be doing?

What do other people need most?

Expected response:

another one of Jesus’ “thought questions”, probably not expecting a verbal response

really a teaching point expressed in the form of a question

Jesus’ point:

There is a time when you do something because it is the right thing and the right time even though it carries a risk

in Jesus’ case, he could continue ministry without regard for risk because his times were in God’s hands – no way he would lose his life prematurely

same would hold true for his disciples – they could carry out their appointed tasks without fear so long as it was “day”, iow, they had God-given opportunities

mankind’s greatest need is for light – that was purpose Jesus came, to bring light into the world, and purpose for which he prepared his disciples… to carry light into rest of the world

also implied: only part of day is light, then darkness comes… bringing an end to activity – Jesus had limited time for ministry, needed to be busy while was still light

and… just as time when is right to act, so also time when is right not to act – God according to his purpose can make clear which is which

Modern Application:

when way is clear before us, know what God expects us to do, is right thing/right time, then do it… even if potentially dangerous

if moving forward with right motive to do right thing while depending on God, he will look after us – especially true if working to move Gospel forward

mankind’s greatest need still for light of Gospel present and active in people’s lives – without it, they will stumble

just like Jesus and the disciples, are limited hours of daylight – must use them to greatest advantage when possible

Jesus’ operating principle still applies: John 9:4 “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.”

 

 85. Do you believe in the Son of God [Son of Man]?

John 9:35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?”

Read: John 9:1-41

 Setting:

shortly after the Feast of Tabernacles – near one of the Temple gates in Jerusalem where he sat and begged (v.8)

took place on the Sabbath (v.14); man was excommunicated (v.34), Jesus heard it and found him still in the Temple area – some of the Pharisees heard the Q&A (v.40)

NOTE: disciples’ question v.2 contains logical fallacy: false dilemma or false dichotomy, increasingly common in 21st century

Person(s) being questioned:

the man, blind from birth, that Jesus healed

certainly a valid question to provoke consideration and response from all who knew circumstances of Jesus’ miracle

Question behind the question:

asked in way that expected a positive response: “you do believe in the Son of Man, don’t you?”

does what you have declared publicly accurately represent your belief?

do you know who the Son of Man (the prophet) is?

Expected response:

probably something quite like what he said – was not the kind of person to blindly accept / embrace a position without adequate understanding

uncertain whether the man had connected enough dots to recognize Jesus as the Prophet, the Son of Man, Messiah

pretty close to making that connection: that his healer was a prophet, that no one born blind had been cured before, that he came from God

Jesus’ point:

man almost immediately persecuted for his unshakable faith even though it was far from complete – Jesus intended his faith to be as quickly rewarded

knew his healer’s name was Jesus (11), knew what kind of person could do what Jesus did (16,30-31) knew ultimate source of power required (33)

“This chapter portrays what happens when the light shines: some are made to see, like this man born blind, while others, who think they see, turn away, blinded, as it were, by the light (9:39–41).” Pillar NT Commentary

man had deep understanding of people, especially the ones questioning him; also had at least good foundational knowledge of Bible

Jesus’ question intended to help man connect dots, reach fuller understanding of Jesus’ true identity, confirm and add confidence/strength to his faith

important for the man to understand he could worship true God truly without help of established church – in his case, a church that had systemically and systematically rejected truth

Modern Application:

if Gospel accounts are historically accurate then:

signs Jesus did were sufficient to confirm his identity as the promised Messiah and worthy of worship, iow, divine

publicly acknowledging belief in the same often results in persecution, frequently from those who claim to be religious

people on margins of society often have better and more accurate insight into spiritual matters than ones commonly expected to know God-Jesus-the Bible

salvation is a multi-step process – repeated opportunities to move someone along toward fuller grasp of truth, confirm/reinforce what they already know, help make connections

 

84. Why do you not understand My speech?

John 8:43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word.

Read: John 8:31-47

 

Setting:

the treasury (20) = the court of the women, next inside Court of the Gentiles

Jesus teaching “many” (30), as often… a mixed group, people across the spectrum of understanding and belief

Person(s) being questioned:

them (42); they (41); they/them (39); them (34); they (33); “those Jews who believed him” (31)

 

Question behind the question:

v.46b – “if I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?”

what sort of belief do you have? what do you really believe?

 

Expected response:

person(s) who doesn’t understand usually doesn’t know why they don’t understand – know the what but not the why

Jesus knew they couldn’t / wouldn’t have a good answer so he answered for them

had started identifying the root cause back in v.19, that they really didn’t know him… or themselves

 

Jesus’ point:

his listeners had already proved the point – could hear words he spoke, did not have ability / willingness to accept what he said as truth

in question whether / how much they grasped concepts and principles of what Jesus taught – probably a spectrum of understanding

what did they actually believe? not specified, based on Jesus’ assessment was not any kind of saving faith

their being hard of hearing a symptom, outward evidence of basic loyalty / worldview – also highlights separation between their understanding and Jesus’ meaning… same words, different definitions

they could not “listen” with understanding and acceptance because they didn’t have right belief / belief (faith) in right object

must embrace Christ before you can embrace what he says – hear / understand / accept / make your own

Jesus didn’t shy away from declaring hard truths – not only declared what they should believe, also identified what hindered from doing so

also did not contribute to false sense of confidence – didn’t stop at v.30, did make sure they at least “heard” what was required of genuine disciple

Modern Application: 

Jesus had comprehensive knowledge, we do not – at same time, we understand principles, application, can recognize symptoms

can be world of difference between “sincere profession” and “genuine conversion” – the real deal has enduring evidence

thorough evangelism includes both good news of salvation through faith in Christ and Christ’s claim to a changed life… what he offers and what he expects

when we and/or our godly counsel based on biblical principles are dismissed/rejected, remember what hindrance probably is… and declare the Gospel

 

83. Where are those accusers of yours?

John 8:10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”

Read: John 8:2-12

 

Setting:

back at the temple court, early in the morning after the end of the feast – crowd gathered, Jesus began again to teach

interrupted by “Jews”, scribes and Pharisees – woman just a prop in their devious drama, hopefully useful to set trap for Jesus

here’s what the law says, what do you say – Jesus didn’t answer but wrote in the pavement, John does not describe what he wrote either time

perhaps

Lev. 5.1 “If a person sins in hearing the utterance of an oath, and is a witness, whether he has seen or known of the matter; if he does not tell it, he bears guilt.”

and Lev. 20:10 “The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.”

every one of her vocal and tacit accusers guilty of withholding evidence… the other party to the act – none were innocent

Person(s) being questioned:

the woman who had been brought to Jesus, the only one left facing him after guilty consciences had cleared the stage

Question behind the question:

did your accusers have a legitimate case against you?

have you officially and legally been found guilty?

are you truly only a prop in their deceitful game?

Expected response:

remote chance but possible someone other than those who brought woman would stand and accuse – Jesus’ questions ruled that out

no real surprise here – Jesus didn’t ask if she were guilty, didn’t deal with that question at all

Jesus’ point:

this a similar trap as one about paying taxes – trying to put Jesus in middle between competing legal systems: Jewish and Roman

Jesus surely recognized devious plan of Jews, deftly avoided it by appealing to their consciences

Jesus changed the teeth on the trap – reminded them of their culpability in how they handled their case

boasted they caught her “in the very act – means they knew who the guy was, were withholding evidence… etc

Jesus appealed to conscience of the woman also – however she ended up in that situation was probably not from acting properly

then his statement, v.12 – plots like that designed to keep people trapped in darkness, perpetuate darkness, something Jesus and truth overcome – see John 1:4-5

Modern Application:

Jesus declared himself to be “the light of the world”, John 8:12; also told his followers “you are the light of the world” Matt. 5:14

we need to take light of life with us wherever we go – show others what it means to live in the light, use light to push back darkness, bring light of truth into situations where people are helped / delivered

 

82. Why do you seek to kill Me?”

John 7:19 Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?”

Read: John 7:14-24

 

Setting:

Feast of Tabernacles, third pilgrimage feast held in 7th month (Sept-Oct), 6 months before Jesus’ final Passover

outer court of the Temple, same place parents found him 20 years earlier – easy access for large crowds, traffic

question raised about Jesus’ competence as teacher, Jesus raises question about their competence as hearers

 

Person(s) being questioned:

“the Jews”, v.15 – Jewish authorities / leaders opposed to Jesus and his teaching

 

Question behind the question:

What basis in Moses’ law do you have for seeking my life?

You don’t keep the law, yet I do; why is that a problem for you?

Why are you trying so hard to break the law you claim to follow?

 

Expected response:

an impossible question for Jewish leaders to answer honestly and maintain their position of influence and authority

presentation issue: Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath (John 5:18) and claimed deity (blasphemy)

real issue: jealousy, unbelief, hatred of truth

 

Jesus’ point:

dealing just with Sabbath issue: Jews would circumcise on Sabbath if the eighth day to avoid breaking the law yet Jesus could not rightly heal

making point of hypocrisy and manipulation – apply the letter of the law to make others look bad/guilty, manipulate it to make themselves look good/innocent

apparently did not see necessity of dealing with deity issue – he had already substantiated his claim sufficiently for those who would to recognize him, Jews had no valid way to disprove his claim

 

Modern Application:

many make conflicting claims about Jesus while rejecting his own testimony; also make claims about themselves contradictory to their own and Jesus’ teaching

example: preach tolerance while refusing to tolerate Christians; profess equal access to all… except Christians

Jesus a good person, a great teacher, misguided about his own identity; Jesus a good example… yet they do not follow him

Jesus didn’t pick a fight over their hypocrisy / double standard; at same time he didn’t back away from exposing it… publicly

 

81. Do you also want to go away?

John 6:67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”

Read: John 6:66-71

Setting:

not clear where, a short time after his “teaching session” at the Capernaum synagogue

Jesus and the Twelve, remainder of the crowd had dispersed – perhaps at Peter’s house

sentiment of many about following Jesus had become obvious – “many of his disciples quit following him” (v.66), probably would have given various reasons

bottom line: many had done cost/benefit analysis and the numbers didn’t work out – perhaps some not at point in faith journey to trust Jesus that much

Jesus likely not surprised, still disappointed at mass exodus, esp. knowing potential eternal consequences

Person(s) being questioned:

the Twelve – perhaps reading disappointment / uncertainty in their body language

to have that many who sincerely hoped for a Messiah to cast negative vote enough to shake anyone’s confidence

like similar questioning (Matt. 16; Mark 8; Luke 9) – who do men / they say I am, who do you say I am; here: is this too hard for you all / is this too hard for you Twelve

Question behind the question:

Is cost of commitment to Me more than you can / are willing to bear?

Are you going to abandon / reject My teaching?

Have you lost confidence that I am Messiah?

Expected response:

if we didn’t know the rest of the story, would be easy to think they all might walk away

Jesus probably knew the outcome, still asked for benefit of disciples

expected them to think carefully even if reluctant to answer immediately – would be far greater challenges to faith for them in future

Jesus’ point:

Jesus’ first choice: followers who were fully committed to him without reservation

also wanted followers who had ability to comprehend spiritual things – concepts like this one, the real point of his teaching by parables

if either of those not present, will only be matter of time before something “too hard to swallow” comes up in Jesus’ teaching

even those who to all outward evidence are genuinely committed Christ-followers have some among them who will fall away

NOTE: Jesus didn’t dumb it down, relax the standard, apologize and say not necessary in order to maintain following

Modern Application:

all sorts of topics Jesus taught on that are stumbling blocks to people today: heaven and hell; money; marriage and divorce; besides the things of proper relationships, life and death (incl. creation), his own identity

for some, if they hang about the meeting house and Christians long enough, will encounter something too hard to swallow, cost of following too high to pay

don’t know who they are, when it will happen – can count on it sooner or later, should be prepared for it

should also anticipate by praying God to give them understanding and commitment so they don’t bail out

 

80. Does this offend you?

John 6:61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you?

Read: John 6:53-65 (no parallel passage)

 

Setting:

v.59, Jesus teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum (Simon Peter’s home town, Jesus’ ministry base for northern Galilee)

follows feeding 5000, their question “what shall we do to please God” v.28 and Jesus’ answer, clarification about manna, Jesus’ identification as “bread of life” and how he is different from manna

reference to “many disciples” v.60 signifies more particular followers than Twelve present, also inclusion of those v.66 who lost heart for following him

probably a full house including local religious leaders, people from Capernaum and surrounding area

Person(s) being questioned:

a general question for all within who would be rightly considered his followers – the Twelve not distinguished until later, v.66

certainly of benefit for everyone present to hear question and answer

Question behind the question:

word used in question: σκανδαλίζω, skandalizo – shocked, outraged by something considered improper; also, put a stumbling block or impediment in the way

probably both senses apply, esp. given word used v.60 (hard, σκληρός, can mean offensive or intolerable) and response by many followers described in v.66 – “This is a saying hard to accept, who can embrace it?”

Does what you think I mean shock you?

Is what I really mean too hard for you to chew/swallow?

Expected response:

probably none, especially since Jesus immediately follows with another question even more shocking

given makeup of the group, would have been range of answers:

“well yeah” if they believed Jesus was only a gifted teacher

“not sure” if they had some understanding and acceptance of Jesus’ true identity

“no” if they understood the kind of comparison Jesus was making

Jesus’ point:

same basic principle as Jesus shared with the Samaritan woman – then the illustration used water (he was sitting on a well), now it was bread (he had just fed the multitude)

hearing only his words and not grasping his meaning would result in completely wrong conclusions

given injunction in Lev. 17:10-14, highly unlikely Jesus would have been seriously advocating flagrant violation of God’s command, yet….

something as obvious as this is to a believer isn’t even on the radar without God’s help – this just one thing among many that were (and still are) too hard for an unbeliever to swallow

Modern Application:

people in virtually every setting are scattered throughout the range of belief – includes those who were Jesus’ closest associates

everything from Peter’s statements “you are the Christ” and “you have the words of eternal life” to Judas’ words of betrayal

is one foundational difference: “no one has the power to come to Christ unless it (the power) has been given to him from the Father”

all the other pieces may be present and in place that could result in conversion: hearing/reading the Gospel, a human “coach”, curiosity about Jesus – but if the power is missing, something will be too hard to swallow

will be true until end of time – we must do our part, pray fervently for God to do his part

 

78. How can you believe?

John 5:44 How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?

Read: John 5:41-47

Setting:

uncertain – v.16 “the Jews persecuted Jesus” – verb is imperfect tense, ongoing incomplete action, better translated “began persecuting”

don’t know for sure if this is a single, extended discourse or a series of encounters assembled together by John

persecution against Jesus by religious leaders was strictly verbal until the very end – public challenge, criticism, seeking to discredit him in front of an audience

Person(s) being questioned:

“the Jews” – v.16, 18 – in this kind of context (unlike v.1) John has in view the Jewish religious leaders – John only uses “scribes” once, “chief priests” 10x (5x in combination with “Pharisees”), “Pharisees” 20x,

probably some combination of “chief priests and Pharisees”, those who took direct responsibility for overseeing religious life

Question behind the question:

Given your worldview / presuppositions, how can you reason to a right conclusion?

If your framework for evaluating a persons identity includes only one dimension, how can you recognize something from another dimension?

If your basic assumptions make a right conclusion impossible, how can you arrive at it?

Expected response:

What do you mean? We’re right and you are wrong. – probably not said loudly, Pharisees didn’t do that

Jesus’ point:

they used strictly human (horizontal) criteria for evaluating people – if they receive acclaim / affirmation from other people, then…

translates into recognizing teachers and authorities sanctioned by others of their kind

no room in their one-dimensional assumptions for someone who had affirmation from God (vertical criteria) but not from other religious leaders

The Jews addressed by Jesus have neither the word of God in them (v 38), nor the life of God (v 40), nor the love of God (v 42). Since this is so, they do not accept the one who comes in the name of God (v 43), though they are ready to accept one who comes in his own name. WBC

basically, they were unable to recognize anything that did not mesh with their worldview… and they had a wrong view – see also Luke 16:31

Modern Application: 

people of all kinds in all ages have the same problem, same obstacle that prevents recognition and acceptance of truth about Jesus… and themselves

Jesus never stopped proclaiming the truth, never told people to go away because he didn’t want to waste time

we need to be like Jesus, praying God to remove the obstacles, proclaiming Gospel truth when we have opportunity

 

 

77. Do you want to be made well?

John 5:6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”

Read: John 5:1-15

Setting:

Pool of Bethesda, near the Sheep Gate at the northwest corner of the Temple area, at the foot of Antonia Fortress

rectangular shallow pool, steps leading down into the water, surrounded by 5 covered walkways – water likely supplied by underground springs (maybe containing iron salts giving red color) thought to have medicinal qualities

“On the location of the pool called Bethzatha, the double- pool of St. Anne is the probable site, and has been excavated; the pools were trapezoidal in shape, 165 ft (49.5 m) wide at one end, 220 ft (66 m) wide at the other, and 315 ft (94.5 m) long, divided by a central partition. There were colonnades (rows of columns) on all 4 sides and on the partition, thus forming the five covered walkways mentioned in John 5:2. Stairways at the corners permitted descent to the pool.”

“The pool had five porticoes. These were covered walk-ways formed by rows of columns supporting a roof and open on the side facing the pool. People could stand, sit, or walk on these colonnaded porches, protected from the weather and the heat of the sun.” NETBible

surrounding area filled with people with all sorts of afflictions – tradition / folk story that the first one in would be healed

“story” apparently had strong credibility, perhaps corroborating evidence indicating story was indeed true

Person(s) being questioned:

man who had been disabled for 38 years – probably not congenital issue / birth defect, possibly injury (perhaps spinal/back)

had apparently been coming to pool for a while, genuinely had no friends – no one else took pity on him, yet he kept trying… at least for some time

know how long he had been disabled, do not know how long he had patronized the pool

unknown whether could somehow get himself to the pool or if someone brought him – if the latter, could give greater significance to Jesus’ question

Question behind the question:

Is it your idea to be here or someone else’s?

Do you like the way it is: wallowing in self-pity, thriving on attention, ducking responsibility – and maybe don’t want to give all that up?

Have you given up all hope but still try to keep up appearances? (most likely, if taking response at face value)

hopelessness often apparent in facial expression, posture, tone of voice, degree of interaction with others / attentiveness to surroundings

Expected response:

not really enough information given about the man to know what to expect – also, another situation where tone of voice would be helpful

nature of man’s response would be good indicator of mindset – body language and tone of voice… complaint or resignation

Jesus’ point:

God does not help those who do not want to be helped – for help to be helpful / profitable, must be followed by right kind of response

if man was content in his condition, he would have resented Jesus healing him, would not have used gift in right kind of way

if man truly desired to be rid of his affliction, Jesus more than happy to oblige… and expected him to live rest of his life showing true thankfulness to God – see v.14

Modern Application:

when we see someone in need, have resources and ability to help, should do fact-finding first… unless is obvious emergency situation

try to determine if their greatest desire is for help or enabling or nothing at all – like Jesus, should not add to individual’s condemnation

like Jesus, we have limited resources, must use them wisely and well… iow be good stewards of what God has given us

 

76. How will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

John 3:12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

Read: John 3:1-21

Setting:

Jesus @ Cana (John 2:1); went to Capernaum for a few days (John 2:12); to Jerusalem for Passover (John 2:13, 23)

Nicodemus, under cover of darkness, sought out Jesus in Jerusalem or the vicinity – wanted discussion, further understanding

Nicodemus a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin – see John 7:50-52 – implication being Nicodemus approached Jesus the way he did (discreetly) because of his position

Person(s) being questioned:

would seem from both texts only Jesus and Nicodemus present at the “interview”

appears that Jesus was asking Nicodemus the question – only two there, one asks something of “you”, must be the other person

is helpful, perhaps even essential, to inquire into the grammar – directed to “you” plural, more than just Nicodemus – probably directed (at minimum) to the “we” of Nicodemus’ opening statement

Question behind the question:

if you can’t handle the simple everyday stuff, how could you ever process all I could tell you?

you say you know I come from God – do you really believe that? do you have any idea what that really means?

what needs to change so you can understand and believe real truth of what you are teaching?

Expected response:

Jesus probably expected only more questions, not any kind of substantive answers

questions like “Huh?” and “What do you mean?”

Jesus’ point:

Nicodemus addressed Jesus as “a teacher” (v.2), διδασκαλος, Jesus in turn refers to Nicodemus as “the teacher” (v.10) – “the” teacher should be more advanced in learning than “a” teacher

yet Nicodemus and those he unofficially represented had great difficulty processing / grasping elementary beginning concepts

was not from lack of intelligence on Nicodemus’ part or any of his fellow teachers or countrymen that they struggled with understanding/unbelief

the one who comes down from heaven must explain the things that relate to heaven – means Nicodemus et al needed heavenly help to really get Jesus’ teaching

remember: Jesus’ question directed to “you” plural, probably including Nicodemus, fellow-teachers, even all Israel

mere intellect insufficient to even fully grasp everything that comes under category of earthly existence – need wisdom and understanding that comes from God in form of Jesus and his teaching, enlightening power of Holy Spirit

Modern Application:

in same boat as Nicodemus and his pals with regard to limitations: have no greater intellect, maybe even less!

have enlarged source of information / written revelation – significant, yes, but don’t forget there was enough already present to cover the basics… and they still didn’t get it

just because our book is bigger doesn’t automatically make us smarter – the only way anyone gets “heavenly things” is if one from heaven enables / equips / teaches us about them

is through power of new birth and indwelling Spirit renewing our minds that we can understand some about all of reality… seen and unseen… and put the pieces together in rational coherent way