• Caleb Rawls

Session 3: Questioning Jesus?

Scripture Reading Mark 11:27-12:34

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“And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”  Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.”

-Mark 12:29-34

Continued Reading

It is Tuesday and just yesterday Jesus walked into the Temple and began flipping the tables of entrepreneurs who were making money in the place of worship for the Gentiles. It is safe to say that this event sparked conversations throughout Jerusalem.

This was another strike against him in the minds of the scribes and Pharisees. This ritualistic leadership of the day knew that Jesus was not good for business and must be dealt with. Various leaders come to Jesus posing theological puzzles intended to catch Jesus in his own words. Some ask him about his “authority.”[1] Others ask him about taxes.[2] Some even get together to question his thoughts on the resurrection, to which Jesus responds, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.”[3] Ouch! Jesus was not responding to some online religious conspiracy theorist. These were the pastors of the day!

Sadly, for the scribes, every attempt to corner Jesus failed and the very people who were leading Israel to worship God were missing the opportunity to truly experience the truth found in him.

Then Luke documents a scribe, which he labels as a lawyer, who upon hearing the bickering of the Pharisees toward Jesus and the wisdom in which he responded asked, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”[4]

To the reader’s surprise Jesus answers the lawyer. No resentment in answering and no coded parable. Why is Jesus all of a sudden being so open and honest with this scribe in contrast with all of the others? The scriptures give us a different persona that this scribe had in his approach to Jesus. He was in no way trying to trap Jesus. He was simply walking by, “and seeing that he answered them well,” wanted to know more about what Jesus thought. In turn a dialogue is struck up that resulted in Jesus saying to this lawyer, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”[5] This lawyer was heading in the right direction to find truth in the Word.

Jesus can answer your questions. From the simple daytime pondering to the deep soul searching; Jesus can answer your questions. However, we must see if our intentions are truly pure when we ask the Designer of the galaxies questions. I am sure no inquiry has caught Him off guard yet.

Talk about it

Do all of the questions that you ask people have pure intentions?

a. Most of the times our questions are straight forward and to the point, yet there are times when we cloak our questions with other less than pure intentions.

Has your child or another child ever asked you something where it was clear they were "cloaking" the question with nice words and trumped up sentiment? Think of a specific example and share.

From your entire Scripture Reading for today, read aloud the responses that Jesus had that were to reveal or outwit the "cloaked" questions of the scribes and Pharisees.

How can we tell if we are "cloaking" our prayers or questions about God with impure intentions as the scribes and Pharisees were to Jesus?

a. It is very hard to tell when we are questioning God with impure motives. Often times we should seek counsel from someone else that we trust to shepherd us on whether what we are questioning God on is from a real desire to know Him or a method to try and get something from God. A child can easily "cloak" their questions and requests with very good intentions but a mature adult can see right through them. Always be sure to submit yourself to godly people so that you can seek God in a pure manner.

Will Jesus answer our questions when we ask them with pure intentions?

a. Yes. When God's children seek God with a pure heart they will find God. It is from this pure hearted scribe at the end of our reading that Jesus says, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." Pure questions have answers from a pure and holy God. So let's not be scared to ask God hard questions as long as we do so with good intentions to know him and draw closer to him.

Notes [1] Matt. 21:23-27 [2] Matt 22:15-29 [3] Matt. 22:29 [4] Matt. 22:36 [5] Mark 12:34

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