Tag: Questions Jesus Asked

32. Which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold….the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift?

Matthew 23:17, 19 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift?

Read: Matthew 23:16-22

similarities to Lk 11:37-54 occurring earlier in Jesus’ ministry; one “harmony” looks for way to have Matthew’s account be out of place, better suited to small dinner setting; the rest take chronological placement as indicating 2 separate occasions when Jesus denounced religious leaders blindness and hypocrisy


in the Temple area; probably Tuesday of Passion Week; scribes, Pharisees, crowds and the Twelve present

Person(s) being questioned:

Matt. 23:1Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples”

“woe to you, scribes and Pharisees” – v.13, 14, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29; “woe to you, blind guides” – v.16

highlighting erroneous teaching of religious leaders, questioning them directly, encouraging all w/i earshot to think critically

Question behind the question:

What is the purpose of the temple?

What / who should be the focus of activities at the temple?

How does this teaching promote truth and justice?

Expected response:

should have responded – temple and altar – both have use and significance regardless of gold or specific gift

their teaching about oaths and vows implied just the opposite – apparently they couldn’t “see” the contradiction

description of Matt. 22:46 carried on even in face of Jesus calling down curses on them – “no one was able to answer Him a word”

Jesus’ point:

truth / integrity

what’s the use of an oath or vow if you can get out of it on a technicality?

how does it advance the truth if you say one thing and mean another?

how can you claim to lead others to the truth when your “rules” encourage deception?


think about why you go to church – to worship the things you bring… or the one who makes the church holy?

if the gold and the gift rank higher than anything else in their surroundings, what is the real focus of worship?

bottom line

nothing you are swearing by can hold you accountable and you know that… only God can – and where is he in the picture?

Modern Application:

effect of lack of trust on culture

society / community disintegrates, becomes radical individualism if there is no interpersonal trust – destroys relationships, paralyzes commerce, worship becomes self-focused

must be those known for commitment to truth and integrity – people of our word and the Word, upholding the truth: John 14:6; 1 Tim. 3:15

keeping right focus / emphasis in worship

what we call worship

shouldn’t call something worship that isn’t just because it happens at church, with Christians

how we do worship

each element of a worship service should intentionally draw attention to the proper object of worship, God

anything that encourages undue attention elsewhere should be avoided or eliminated

where we go to worship

whatever there is about the worship space that draws attention away from the proper object should be altered or removed

in all things, whatever does attract the attention of worshipers should focus it on a true representation of God


31. What do you think about the Christ?

Matthew 22:42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.”

Read: Matthew 22:41-46; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44


some fluctuation in actual individuals present throughout course of week, Jesus continuing teaching ministry in Temple area

scribes and Pharisees, crowds, disciples all present, Tuesday of Passion Week

Jesus, out in the open, unmasking hypocrisy and wrong assumptions held by both leaders and followers

NOTE: two primary “tools” demonstrated by Jesus and his apologetic strategy – knowledge of the Bible, critical thinking skills… available to most anyone

Person(s) being questioned:

on the surface: scribes and Pharisees – “Jesus asked them” – Matt. 22:41; Luke 20:39, 41 – and he expected them to answer

this was crunch time for the Twelve, final series of lessons / training for combat – biulding confidence, showing by example how to respond to skeptics and opposers

Questioner: You said “all belief is a coverup for insecurity.” Right? Deepak Chopra: Yes. Questioner: Do you believe that? Chopra: Yes. Questioner: Thank you.

their problem: they had great intellect matched up with little spiritual understanding; broad knowledge but little godly wisdom

Question behind the question:

What kind of Messiah are you expecting?

Who do you expect the Messiah to be?

What do you expect the Messiah to do?

Expected response:

a descendant of David who would rally his people, lead them to self-governing independence

perhaps combined with prophetic office and signs as Elijah and Elisha did – healing lepers, raising the dead, floating axe head

only partially correct, certainly not the whole story… especially what relates specifically to Jesus’ question

Jesus’ point:

Jesus’ purpose had number of facets:

    1. show how incompetent religious leaders were to hold positions they assumed; demonstrate his own superiority / authority

      hint: a seminary education doesn’t give you all the answers, even to some of the most important and essential quesions

    2. instruct all who had ears to hear about true identity and mission of Messiah

Pharisees accepted Psa. 110 as Messianic; regardless of any attempted intellectual sleight of hand, Messiah would be someone in authority over David

David, even if he came back from the dead, would not be likely to acknowledge the authority of one of his natural descendants

leaves only one option: somehow this descendant of David is at the same time his Master / lord / Lord, iow God

Modern Application:

Messiah is also God-Man who has position of honor and authority, ruling Israel… and the world

he will deliver Jewish people and others as well from rule of earthly tyrants – Messiah will be sole ruler of “one world government” in ultimate and absolute sense

don’t be afraid to ask hard questions, don’t fear man’s wisdom, don’t accept an answer you can’t understand – the one who cannot explain adequately doesn’t fuilly understand what he is trying to explain

30. Why do you test Me, you hypocrites?

Matthew 22:18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites?

Read: Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17; Luke 20:20-26


Tuesday of Passion Week, in Jerusalem, probably the Temple area (Matt. 21:23; 24:1; Mark 11:27; 12:35; 13:1; 14:49; Luke 20:1; 21:37-38)

crowds, the Twelve; religious leaders within sight and hearing; for this question: Pharisees-in-training and Herodians (supporters of Herod, political types, allies for the cause only)

not certain how readily identifiable “party” affiliation was, how well-known particular individuals might be

Person(s) being questioned:

the fellows in front – probably the PiT’s – and the others aligned with them – probably Herodian presence that gave political emphasis to their proposed dilemma

Jesus probably did not have crowd in general in mind – they were predominantly sympathetic to Jesus (see Mark 12:12)

Question behind the question:

What is your real agenda?

Why are you pretending sincerity?

How can you justify mixing truth with deception?

Jesus’ second question even more “loaded” and significant: “Whose image and inscription is this?”

Who authorized its production and governs its use?

What does that signify for a connection between image, ownership, uses, loyalty?

Expected response:

to first question: some kind of defensive push-back, or, red-faced silence – actually got the latter, maybe without the embarassment

would have quickly recognized danger to all who opposed Jesus if their answer indicated any kind of agreement with accuracy of Jesus’ assessment of his challengers

to second question: appeared to be straightforward question, probably safe enough to give direct answer – question of fact, not opinion or interpretation, easily corroborated by anyone

gave the expected answer – not clear how quickly they caught on to full import of Jesus’ follow-up statement

Jesus’ point:

1st question: questioners said much that was accurate: Jesus was true/truthful, he did teach the way of God truthfully/accurately, he didn’t alter his teachings/methods in response to public opinion, he didn’t show partiality

problem was: PiTs and Herodians even if they knew it didn’t believe it and… definitely didn’t want people to believe it

second thing: primary purpose of question not to help them know what was right; was intended to entrap/discredit Jesus, bring harm to him either from Jews or Romans

2nd question: everyone present who used Roman coinage for commerce acknowledged right of Caesar/government to produce and regulate legal tender; certain degree of loyalty expressed toward govt since willingly abided by govt monetary rules

problem was: everyone without exception bears image of God, not everyone accepts and submits to God’s rights over them

despite Temple “scene” Jesus caused on Sunday (Mk 11:15-19; Mt 21:12-17; Lk 19:45-46; 21:37-38) with money changers, Jesus’ point not about money – is about authority and proper recognition of it in all spheres of life

question was about image: God’s image appears only in one place… mankind (Gen. 1:26), the Son especially (Heb. 1:3)

Modern Application:

minor point: government is institution established by God, has rights / deserves honor/loyalty/respect even when not respectable

includes financial support through taxes whether revenue is properly used or not – Jesus made no provision for exceptions

major point: mankind in total has a duty to acknowledge, honor and submit to God’s authority, treating every image-bearer according to regulations God has established

includes image-bearers serving in all spheres of life, institutions God has ordained: family, church, state


29. Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?

Matthew 22:12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.

Read: Matthew 22:1-14


Monday of Passion Week, after Triumphal Entry (Matt. 21:7ff) — cleansing Temple (2nd time) v.12 — healed blind and lame v.14

authority challenged by chief priests, scribes on Sunday v.15-16 — again on Monday v.23 — Jesus responded by teaching with parables v.28ff: two sons (21:28-32), tenants (21:33-46), wedding banquet (22:1-14)

so… in the Temple, religious leaders and Pharisees along with multitude of Jewish people including the Twelve (v.20, 23, 45-46)

first part of parable addresses issue of rejection – failure to acknowledge the importance and identity of the king’s son, second part focuses on authority

Person(s) being questioned:

directly, the one improperly dressed at the wedding

indirectly, any in the crowd to whom it might apply — given v.45, possible if not likely that religious leaders were Jesus’ primary target — immediate response by Pharisees: “then the Pharisees… plotted how to entangle him in his talk”

Question behind the question:

By what means did he gain entrance to the wedding? — was a “by invitation only” kind of event

By whose authority was he present among the guests? — proper garment supplied by the king evidence of invitation from the king

iow, what right did he have to be there? (strongly implied… he had none)

Expected response:

possibly “special invitation”, late arrival, no time to get dressed, some other excuse

or… the one given, nothing – what could he honestly say that would legitimize his presence?

only way into the venue “guarded” by the one giving out wedding garments – to be inside w/o meant coming in by another way

Jesus’ point:

is a “kingdom” parable – Jewish leaders convinced kingdom belonged to Jews, they were in it, and… they had right handle on who could enter / stay in and how

entrance into the kingdom not one of birth or religion – by either being born a Jew or becoming a Jew

staying in the kingdom not achieved through obedience to the Law and at the discretion of religious leaders

same for privileges of leadership / teaching authority – is by invitation and endorsement of “the king” that one has kingdom privileges

Modern Application:

entrance into kingdom is only by invitation / call of God, legitimized by having right garment… the righteousness of Christ

without proper garment, will not be allowed to “remain” in kingdom, have no proper authority (teaching / governing / discipline)


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