There's something that has really struck me as I've studied the way Jesus taught and interacted with a skeptical and sinful humanity. So often, when confronted with the pride, arrogance, and hostility of man, Christ chose to respond with a penetrating question rather than some thunderous, verbal decapitation. Not that He wasn't capable of the latter. He is God, after all.
But His conscious choice to gently guide people to understanding truth with leading questions rather than authoritative declarations really deserves more attention from those of us who wish to be His disciples. Reading the eyewitness testimony of His life, I struggle to find many exchanges where He left people walking away marveling how He "totally owned" or "completely DESTROYED" that Pharisee. Instead, I find plenty where His calm, measured, inquisitive engagement left people walking away convicted and converted.
Think about it:
- When outrage ensued over His forgiving a paralyzed man's sins, Jesus didn't react with a lecture. Instead, He asked, "Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk?'"
- When religious leaders challenged His authority, He asked, "John's baptism – was it from heaven, or of human origin?"
- When He was asked to respond to the controversial question of paying taxes to Rome, He responds by asking, "Show me a denarius – whose image and inscription are on it?"
Jesus knew the answer to every single question He asked. But He was asking in order to lead people to an unpopular truth that they didn't want to hear but needed to accept.
It might be wise then if His modern-day disciples chose to engage the sinful arrogance that surrounds us the same way. Consider just two recent examples on the great human rights debate currently torturing our society.
Rather than engage in a bickering back and forth, rather than attempting to publicly seize the moral high ground against one arguing to protect the legality of dismembering full-term infants moments before birth, rather than launch a graphic, full-scale shock and awe campaign of verbosity, Representative Mike Johnson asked abortion activist Aimee Arrambide a simple question that laid bare the truth:
Ms. Arrambide was gently led to an awareness of her own inconsistency through a simple question. Now, it may be true that her pride and obstinance will prevent her from thinking and working through the grave moral miscalculation, just like it may be true that the Pharisee who doubted Christ's authority to forgive sins never came to repentance. But the truth was revealed for anyone to see and submit to. And it was done by a simple question.
Similarly, pro-life mom Catherine Glenn Foster chose not to respond to the badgering of Representative Jamie Raskin in kind, or by using the left's own tactic of shouting down "men who can't get pregnant" from speaking to the issue of abortion. Instead, she asked a simple question that left the truth exposed and Raskin undone:
The overwhelming majority of abortions performed in the United States are done for convenience, as a method of birth control. But those who believe that to be morally permissible rarely, if ever, offer any kind of logical or scientific defense of it. Instead, they rush to extremely rare cases of rape and incest (which make up less than 1% of all abortions) to justify the whole. A simple question by Foster displayed that to a watching world.
Rep. Raskin won't admit it, but of course he would not vote to ban abortion in all cases except rape or incest. His commitment is to protect the legality of abortion-for-convenience even as he is unwilling and unable to provide meaningful, moral, scientific justification for it. That all became clear with a simple question.
It's almost like Jesus was onto something.
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