How appropriate that we get to these chapters around the beginning of Holy Week? Throughout chapter 20 of Luke, we can see that the religious leaders are reaching a boiling point and getting desperate.
They are doing everything they can to trick or find some offense they can charge him with that will hold weight, but each time Jesus navigates through their attempts, he challenges them.
If you want to go a little deeper. I have covered both the subjects of this chapter; the questioning of Jesus (2.5.23) and the Parable of the Wicked Tenants (11.20.22) on a Sunday morning. You can see those on our media page or our youtube channel, but today I want to look at a principle I heard another Pastor describe.
First, we must understand that not everyone who asks you a question wants an answer or the truth. Listen to one of the most profound questions ever asked. It was a question someone asked of Jesus, and the one who asked it never stopped to hear the answer:
“Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?’ And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews . . .” (John 18:38).
Pilate asked the question and did not even give the One who is called “the truth” a moment to answer. I don’t know if he was really interested. People often ask questions, not for the answer, but to see what side you have taken. Their question is for exposure, not for truth.
In today’s reading, that is what Jesus faced three times. The religious were asking questions not to know the answer but to see what “side” He was on.
Today in this hostile culture we are in, we face the same thing in our workplaces, college campuses, and even the local coffee shops. Maybe we can take a page from Jesus’ book from His dialoguing methods in a hostile environment.
Let’s look at two of the three situations. Notice what was asked and then notice how Jesus responded:
On one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him, and they spoke, saying to Him, “Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?” Jesus answered and said to them, “I will also ask you a question, and you tell Me: Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?” (Luke 20:1-4)
They watched Him and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could deliver Him to the rule and the authority of the governor. They questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach correctly, and you are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But He detected their trickery and said to them, “Show Me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” (Luke 20:20-24)
Jesus did the same thing with every ill-intentioned question. Remember, none of these religious people asked Jesus to hear the answer but to discover what side He was on. One apologist explains that every question comes with an assumption. That is why C. S. Lewis said, “Nothing is so self-defeating than a question that has not been fully understood.”
Let’s take a page from Jesus. What did He do in each situation? Jesus asked questions to the questioner. He questioned the question. Many ask questions but never have been questioned themselves.
I have seen preachers on television being asked these kinds of questions—from hosts on the Today show to Oprah to reporters on CNN and Fox News. Every time they are asked a question as Jesus was, they answer it and get in trouble. Instead of doing what Jesus did, some of these pastors wrongly assessed that these people wanted an answer, which wasn’t true. They wanted to know their side so that the attack could commence.
HERE IS THE PRINCIPLE:
Answer the question when people want an answer. Question the question when people want to fight.
Jesus would not let them catch Him, but His questions put them on the defensive. Think of the most explosive questions Christians are asked Today: What is your view on Fill in the blank? Let’s take a page from Jesus: What question can we ask in return that would turn the tables?
Maybe something like this: Do you believe in God? Do you think this is something important enough that He has something to say about it? Would you believe in God even if He contradicts what you think? So where would you find out what God thinks?
Someone said, “Most people dismiss the Bible not because it contradicts itself but because it contradicts them.”
The next time someone asks you a question, take a page out of Jesus’ playbook and ask a question in return to learn why they are asking it.