Tag: Questions Jesus Asked

15. Who is My mother and who are My brothers?

Matthew 12:48 But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”

Read: Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21


Jesus still interacting with the crowd; not clear whether religious leaders are still present or not – possible they had left

hard to tell from print, but Jesus sounds more relaxed, focusing on genuine learners instead of challengers

“typical” rabbi / students gathering – Jesus singles out disciples (12:49), likely includes the Twelve, also other serious students/followers

see also Mark 3:21 – family concerned for Jesus’ health, especially his state of mind – riding the high from attention of all his fans, neglecting physical needs…

Person(s) being questioned:

“the one who told him” (Matt.); “a crowd …told him… he replied to them” (Mark); “told him by some… he answered them” (Luke)

group arrangement such that announcement would have to pass person-to-person to reach Jesus

like all of Jesus’ public teaching, had all of hearers in view; good to remember – Jesus gave additional instruction to Twelve, also inner circle of Peter, James, John

but… none of that instruction had nature of insider secrets – was given to them to be shared, passed on to others

Question behind the question:

Where did I really come from?

Why did I come?

What kind of relationships take precedence? see v.50, ref. to “Father”

since Jesus brings God into it, How does God define and rank relationships?

Where does that leave biological relationships? for God? for us?

Expected response:

well, Mary, of course – everybody knows who your mother is; your siblings, well, who are your mother’s other children?

few if any of followers had sufficient understanding to go beyond “obvious” on question like this

Jesus’ point:

more to Jesus than meets the eye – came to earth, not from earth – has major bearing on Jesus’ relationships

…allusion to deity (My Father), Jesus not given to earthly family only but the whole world

age 12, in Jerusalem; conversation w/Nicodemus: “God loved the world”

Jesus more than locally famous rabbi, was on mission first to his own people but not exclusively

relations that share most common ground take priority – iow, ones that endure into next life, starting with Father/child

includes relationships that can be transformed into enduring ones

God’s basis – does he know you? see Matt. 7:22-23; two basic categories, number of terms used: knows / doesn’t know; saved / lost; called / not called; friends / enemies of God; born again (from above) / condemned; made alive / dead in trespasses and sins

biology matters to God, after all he made it; human family relationships factor into God’s dealings with people

Exodus 6:5 heard groaning of children of Israel, remembered covenant with Israel

1 Kings 11:12ff withheld judgment on Solomon for sake of his father

Modern Application:

since God loved the world and sent his Son to the world, we must take Gospel to all the world, literally and figuratively

no place in world is outside God’s notice, regardless of impediments to access; same true for people groups whether in place or displaced

loyalty to Christ and his family comes first – see Matt. 10:37, 15:5-6, 19:29; does not make those relationships exclusive of others

primary investment of time, etc. should be in our “forever family”; should also invest in effort to add to that family

commands to honor father and mother, love neighbor still apply – Christian’s duty to do so in way that keeps Christ in his rightful place



14. How can you, being evil, speak good things?

Matthew 12:34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Read: Matthew 12:33-37cf. Luke 6:45


went to his(?) house, intending rest and food, crowd thought otherwise (12:20); family sought to “rescue” him (12:21, 46)

demon-possessed man brought to him and healed (12:22) – physically and spiritually

Pharisees and scribes engage in whispering “fake news”, intending to redirect line of reasoning

Jesus takes initiative, calling out religious leaders for sinfulness

Person(s) being questioned:

Jesus teaching multitude in general, always had the “big” group in mind – see v.23, 46

Jesus knew both words and thoughts of Pharisees and scribes: v.24, 38

Addresses “brood of vipers” – portion of group w/i multitude: religious leaders who had hostile agenda

keep in mind: Jesus confronted them for rejecting truth, not rejecting him – an issue of principle, not personal primarily

also remember: not all scribes and Pharisees had same agenda – at least some recognized, acknowledged, embraced truth

Question behind the question:

Why are you trying to pretend?

What is true religion?

What is required / expected to please God?

Expected response:

honest response: is not possible – would be universal agreement with sayings about tree, application to heart

probable response: who is he talking about, can’t be us, must be them

actual response shows accuracy of Jesus’ charge, hardness of their heart – was like nothing Jesus said registered, had to prove his identity before they would receive anything

Jesus’ point:

if they met Ray Comfort, “are you a good person”, responded “duh, of course” – would also have claimed to do good, say good

example: apostle Paul, Philippians 3:3-6 – pre-conversion, confident words and deeds gave right standing before God

point: external conformity to God’s law a worthless exercise unless motivation is love for God – outward obedience treated by God as disobedience when not properly motivated

see Mark 12:30; Deut. 6:5; 10:12; 30:6; cp. Isa. 1:11-13; 29:13ff

reason is: God wants whole person devoted to him, God not satisfied to be cosmic vending machine… good deeds in, blessings out

in fact, good heart finds favor with God even when deeds fall short of perfection

secondary point: what is being treasured up in the heart will ultimately be externally evident – most readily seen when relaxed, off-duty (idle)

is outward evidence that reveals true character will serve as evidence to substantiate God’s justifying / condemning

Modern Application:

addressing issue of spiritual abuse in the church among leaders – in spite of how their teaching sounds, are actually leading people into serious error and away from truth

root cause: unqualified for position of spiritual leadership – at least have wrong motivation, may even be unconverted

will be most apparent when not “on-stage” – less formal or unguarded moments, structure of free time, etc.

secondary application to all Christians

remember: God is most concerned with heart/motive – heart/soul/mind and strength: 3 internal, 1 external

keep a high standard for word and deed from a good heart

“…in the careless word when one is not on guard, the true character of the heart and disposition is manifested. Final acquittal and condemnation will not rest on one’s formal conduct but on conduct that evidences the true nature of one’s inner being.” Ladd, NT Theology, 128

13. How can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man?

Matthew 12:29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.

Read: Matthew 12:22-32; Mark 3:20-30; cp. Luke 11:14-26

Matthew and Mark – in Galilee; Luke – in Judea (probably) about a year later


some time later than encounter in the synagogue; returned with disciples to Capernaum, Sea of Galilee (3:7)

went to his(?) house, intending rest and food, crowd thought otherwise (12:20); family sought to “rescue” him (12:21)

demon-possessed man brought to him and healed (12:22) – physically and spiritually

crowds begin considering “question of the day” – could this be the Messiah? one element of healing/exorcism powers – intended to validate Jesus as Messiah; cf. Luk 4:18; John 5:36

Pharisees and scribes start whispering, intending to redirect line of reasoning – do not want people to think of Jesus as Messiah

attempting to discredit Jesus in minds of crowd – is mentally ill, under influence or power of Beelzebub (ruler of underworld)

Person(s) being questioned:

question for Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem (12:25, 3:23) – one of series of questions that are combination of instruction and rebuke

Jesus’ example an encouragement to crowds – start with Scripture and think for yourselves – don’t take word of Pharisees/pope as Gospel w/o checking it out

people were reasoning rightly, should have been encouraged; instead, Jesus provoked by Pharisees’ attempt to steer people away from truth

Jesus also draws line in sand for Pharisees (12:31-32) – cross the line into that kind of blasphemy and there is no hope

Jesus challenges Pharisees’ logic – if/then reasoning: if charge is true, how can Satan’s domain continue? is he really that foolish?

Jesus turns Pharisees’ reasoning on themselves – if/then: if charge is true, power behind Jesus’ casting out demons is really Beelzebub, then is not same being empowering Jewish exorcists they sanctioned? (Acts 19:13ff)

third declaration – if/then: if Jesus not acting by Beelzebub’s power, then what? sets up parable and embedded question

Question behind the question:

What is necessary to effectively take territory away from Satan?

Who or what is the only known source of such?

What does that mean in relation to Jesus?

What should we conclude about the “kingdom of God”?

Expected response:

only way to achieve that is through superior power and authority – something sons of Sceva clearly lacked

God the only known source in Jesus’ day or any other era of such power and authority

Jesus must then be acting with power and authority of God and not Beelzebub

Jesus’ point:

if all of this is true, then how does kingdom concept impact Pharisees?

just as Jesus has power and authority superior to Beelzebub, so his kingdom is superior to Satan’s kingdom

and is also true in regard to Pharisees – kingdom they were trying to preserve inferior to one Jesus came to establish

kingdom and covenant go together – Pharisees ideologically bound to Old covenant, Jesus intending to inaugurate New covenant, superior in every way

until Jesus’ day God’s kingdom largely limited to one people – Jews – and one geographical area – Middle East

if kingdom to advance and claim territory in all the world as promised to Abraham (Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4) Satan must be restrained

Christ’s kingdom an exclusive domain – is either you or the strong man, not both; is either Christ or Satan – is obvious to objective witness whose kingdom is superior

Modern Application:

if Satan must be bound for Christ’s kingdom to advance, at same time, the advance of Christ’s kingdom throughout world restrains Satan by power of Word and Spirit

is work of Holy Spirit opening eyes and minds to spiritual truth found in God’s word that restrains Satan’s ability to deceive

Gospel truth means used by Holy Spirit to deliver individual from bondage to sin and Satan, restraining ability to influence

is presence of Holy Spirit indwelling believer that removes territory from Satan’s domain – the two cannot coexist in individual

couple sub-points: John said “kingdom is at hand”; Jesus said “kingdom has come upon you” (Matt. 12:28), “is within you” (Luk 17:21) – we should not be overlooking present kingdom in favor of future millennial kingdom

if point of parable that Jesus is going about binding Satan, then that sets time reference for Rev. 20:2He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;”

kingdom of God / kingdom of heaven not different kingdoms; not something reserved for Jewish people at some future time

kingdom is now, Satan is bound although not powerless; can and should share Gospel boldly and confidently


12. Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep?

Matthew 12:12 Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

Read: Matthew 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11 (cf. John 5:16-30)


immediate setting – Sabbath in the synagogue, group present including scribes (experts in the law) and Pharisees (Luk. 6:7)

Jesus present as teacher, disabled man also there (right hand, Luk. 6:6), religious leaders with an agenda… to discover basis for discrediting Jesus (Luk. 6:7)

two hot-button issues for Pharisees: Sabbath practice and questions of authority – what kept coming up in challenges to Jesus

questioning actions of Jesus and his disciples on Sabbath – one of distinctives, set Jews apart from Romans, vigorously boundaried, rigidly defended and maintained

Jesus knew challengers’ thoughts, intent, so forced the issue: “stand up” (Mar & Luk); “is it lawful to heal” (Mat); “is it lawful to do good” (Mar & Luk); no response (Mar); second question, “…sheep…”, answers his own question (Mat); angry, grieved (Mar), healed

Person(s) being questioned:

“them” – asked question so they could accuse (Mat. 12:10), identified as “scribes and Pharisees” (Luk. 6:7)

“looked around at them” (Mar & Luk) – at least group of leaders, since “grieved by the hardness of their hearts”

not typical of Jesus’ attitude toward average Jew, reserved for leaders who should have known and done better

in synagogue teaching session, response to rabbi not limited to religious types – any of men could have answered

Question behind the question:

more than one concept in view here, several “layers” to issue Jesus addresses

1 – if you treat an animal with compassion, why not a person

really a more fundamental principle than Jesus’ miracle of healing – level of basic human response to another creature

2 – what about tradition/regulations (entire body of oral and written tradition raised to level of Mosaic law or above) that should encourage or facilitate doing good but seem to hinder or even prevent it

3 – what is whole purpose of Sabbath anyway, how is that reflected in Sabbath practice and regulation in Jesus’ day (see earlier context)

4 – who has authority over the Sabbath and to whom does it point, in whom is it “fulfilled” (Mat. 11:28-30)

Expected response:

religious leaders on horns of dilemma – if they give honest response, would defeat their purpose by validating what Jesus was about to do; to give response that supported position, would damage/destroy their credibility and enhance Jesus’ standing — a lose-lose proposition for them

honest answer – no comparison between life of creature and life of human being made in God’s image

answer they wanted to give – sheep more valuable: would rescue dumb animal to avoid financial loss, disabled guy has waited this long, he can wait until not the Sabbath

keeping Law by maintaining externals all they knew – most lacked ability to grasp spiritual significance

Jesus’ point:

1 – because of imago Dei, should show compassion to both beast and man… especially if is right to rescue beast; yet even on lesser grounds – man is rational being, beast is not – man should be treated better than dumb creature

2 – probably without exception all present would agree: God is good, God does good, God expects his people to do good, God’s law reflects those principles

if/then! if that is true, then anything intended to accompany God’s law must work with it, not against it – iow, man’s regulations to guard God’s law must promote good while restraining evil

a regulation that would forbid Jesus healing or doing other works of mercy just the opposite – prevents doing good, facilitates continuance of evil (illness, disease, disability)

3 – purpose is pursuit of holiness – in order to do that, work is forbidden… either self-imposed or imposed by another (master/employer)

sanctified / set apart as day to rest from normal daily labor and, in place of that, use freed-up time to cultivate relationship with God, understanding of God and his ways

4 – the One who instituted it has authority – that means Jesus, because one with Father; points ultimately to Christ, re-creation and redemption; is fulfilled in Christ, source of rest for his people, one who leads them into eternal rest

Modern Application:

1 – use the right method / metric when considering environmental / ecological issues

2 – church and state both need to pay attention to this: rules/laws and expectations across the board should promote/facilitate what God’s law commands, forbid/hinder what God’s law forbids

important note: church expectations / regulations must not go beyond God’s Word and bind conscience in ways God does not

3 – remember God’s design intent regarding 1 day in 7, follow it, encourage others to do so with respect to both what God forbids and what he expects

rest from normal labors, attend to pursuit of holiness; don’t do what encourages others to violate those principles (shopping on Sunday, e.g.), do encourage them to pursue God

4 – above all, seek rest for soul in Christ, look forward with anticipation to eternal rest promised to the believer


11. To what shall I liken this generation?

Matthew 11:16 “But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions,

Read: Matthew 11:16-19; Luke 7:31-35


somewhere in cities of Galilee – Jesus’ “itinerant” ministry, after sending Twelve out (Matt. 10:5ff)

John Baptist’s disciples have asked question, received answer

Jesus continues instructing crowd – connecting dots from Luke 3:1-18, esp. verse 15

Person(s) being questioned:

probably not really directed at crowd – “this generation”

thinking out loud, talking to self but ok if others listen in – not intended to be private conversation

Question behind the question:

Why are you so committed to stereotypes?

Why do you behave so immaturely about such serious things?

Expected response:

Jesus probably did not expect a response

intended to answer his own question for benefit of those really listening

already knew attitude of majority toward John’s ministry and his

Jesus’ point:

people had idea (“the people were in expectation”), had rubric (complete Old Testament)

application to real life using wrong rubric – stereotypes promoted by religious leaders intended to maintain status quo

John – fasting, criticized/discounted for being too strict; must have picked up a demon out there in the desert

Jesus – feasting, criticized/discounted for not being strict enough; must be lowlife like those he associates with

were evaluating (both John and Jesus) in light of humanly developed standards – principle easily applies to any situation

should have been mature enough to use God’s standard the Bible to evaluate against, then accepted the evidence

didn’t mind using Bible to find promises that give hope, should have gone rest of the way… asked most important question – is what we are seeing a true work of God?

e.g., Edwards on Revivals: Containing A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God in the Conversion of Many Hundred Souls in Northhampton, Massachusetts, A.D. 1735

Modern Application:

easy to construct mental image, stereotype of some kind – is ok when faithful to what is portrayed in Bible

should carefully evaluate at each use for something of this magnitude, going back to original for validation

easy application: they way they do things (church, evangelism, missions, music, outreach, mens/womens ministry) over there

doesn’t matter whether results appear favorable/positive or unfavorable/negative – is God at work?

second easy thing to do: judge validity of method by (apparent) results – Bible repeatedly cautions against that

where God / Bible prescribes method we must follow, responsibility for results is God’s

10. What did you go out to see? A prophet?

Matthew 11:9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet.

Read: Matthew 11:2-14; Luke 7:18-30

see also Luke 3:1-18, esp. verse 15


somewhere in cities of Galilee – Jesus’ “itinerant” ministry, after sending Twelve out (Matt. 10:5ff)

John Baptist already arrested by Herod for reuke of illegal/immoral marriage (Herodias married 2 of her uncles)

John knew who he was, unsure about who Jesus was – was Jesus real deal or only an impostor

Person(s) being questioned:

the multitudes – ones following Jesus around throughout Galilee

were right there when John’s two emissaries asked Jesus the question, and heard Jesus’ response

knew how John had been acting/preaching… as the forerunner angel referenced to Zechariah – Luke 1:13-17

iow, John would be forerunner promised Mal. 4:5-6 – so… John a fulfillment of prophecy, asking if Jesus a fulfillment of prophecy also

Jesus answered prophecy question with prophecy answer – clear reference to Isa. 61:1 – implied: you are seeing this prophecy fulfilled, what do you think?

John’s disciples had their answer, went back to report; Jesus turned to crowd left behind, continued teaching, putting them on the spot

Question behind the question:

asks series of pointed questions closely connected to John, Herod, Jesus and prophetic promises – expecting listeners to think

what were their expectations? preconceived ideas? motivation? were they prepared for if this / then that connections?

if you really expected “this”, why did you respond as you did?

if you really expected to see a prophet, the prophet, then proper response would be…

are you seeking / hungering for truth… or entertainment?

ties in with expectations and motivation – often see what confirms expectations, respond accordingly

if you are hungering for truth, where does that truth lead?

if truth leads somewhere, need to follow to logical conclusion

Expected response:

Jesus gave expected response… for at least some of crowd – did expect to see prophet

Jesus also knew many went out to see John just for the spectacle, entertainment value

Jesus’ point:

if you go to hear / see genuine prophet of God, should expect to heed what he says – ought to result in some kind of change

John was identified by angel as forerunner, Jesus confirmed that identity – Matt. 11:10; if that is true, then… someone must be following, iow the Messiah

since that is true, are Messianic prophecies also being fulfilled? yes, indeed, what did John’s disciples hear and see – v.5

the one who has ears to hear will recognize / acknowledge who Jesus is, will accept him as the Messiah, submit to his rule

Modern Application:

same as Jesus’ deeper question: what are expectations? preconceived ideas? motivation? are we prepared for if this / then that connections when go to hear God’s word proclaimed?

also true, btw, when come to God’s word in personal devotions and study

point also the same: if you go to hear / see genuine “prophet” of God (one who proclaims God’s truth), should expect to heed what he says – ought to result in some kind of change


9. Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?

Matthew 9:15 And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.

Read: Matthew 9:14-17; Mark 2:18-22; Luke 5:33-39compare John 3:28-30


period of Galileean ministry: teaching by sea (Mk.2:13); eating at Levi’s (2:15); walking through grainfields (2:23); synagogue (3:1); to the sea (3:7)

perhaps at Levi’s house (Luke 5:29ff) – if so, gathering included many tax collectors, sinners, scribes, Pharisees, disciples of John

John’s disciples (Matt 9:14), they (Mk & Luk) asked, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?”

Person(s) being questioned:

Jesus’ response question directed primarily at those who questioned him – John’s disciples, but for benefit of entire group

Jesus often put his challengers on the spot, at same time expected all within earshot to be actively hearing

like with Nicodemus, how Jesus phrased his question should have provoked response – many around the table Bible students

also John’s disciples were following John before Jesus’ ministry began – should have been familiar with John’s theological position

Question behind the question:

when do you fast, when do you celebrate?

fast when mourning (1 Sam. 31:13); deep personal trouble (2 Sam. 12:16-22); national danger (2 Chr. 20:1-3ff); no NT reference after Acts (13:3; 14:23)

celebrate victory (1 Sam. 18:6-8), deliverance (Ex. 15), marriage (John 2:1-10), great accomplishment (Ezra 6:16; Neh. 12:27)

what is appropriate behavior for godly people now?

two examples – action is possible but not proper – not put-down of old garments, old wineskins… have time and place

something has changed, former ways of doing things no longer proper; and… a time for celebration not mourning

who do you think I (Jesus) am? what do you think my purpose is here?

highlighter on word “bridegroom” – should have been clue to hearers, especially John and his disciples

Expected response:

no, of course not

wedding a time of celebration for all present, regardless of relationship or station

to not enter into celebration would be insult to bride and groom particularly, in some way to everyone

no mourning for entire duration of wedding celebration – in Jesus’ day, week-long feast

Jesus’ point:

now is not the time for mourning – is a time for celebration

next big event on God’s timeline in Jewish understanding – coming of Messiah and his Kingdom

was Jesus’ way of telling serious students of Bible their hopes were being realized – Bridegroom was with them

God as husband – Isa. 54:4-6; 62:4-5; recognized / identified by John as Bridegroom – John 3:28-30

because Jesus was there, no need to fast – claim only God himself could make

Modern Application:

narrow focus – Bridegroom has come, established his kingdom, taken away by death and then by Ascension

can and should rejoice that next to last major promise of God has been fulfilled

wider focus – all that is true, but is it appropriate to fast now?

two statements Jesus made:

John 16:16-20 “…you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy”

Matthew 28:18-20 “…I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

fasting an ok “spiritual discipline” – not obligatory, not common practice among NT church