Mark – The Facts.
I had two opportunities to speak to approximately five hundred youth workers in break out sessions as we met in large cities at at an annual, national youth worker convention. It was scary and exciting to have the honor to do this. After speaking to a large crowd, it is always a bit risky to open the floor for questions. Some questions are good and will continue to teach everyone in the room with the answer. Some questions asked are for clarification and understanding. Some questions are asked just to be funny because they like to entertain crowds. And then there are some questions, by those who think they know it all, asked just to trip you up, to make you look like you don’t know the topic at hand. If you teach or speak, I’m sure you have had questions like these.
I love how Jesus handles questions from the religious leaders who are sure they know it all and are not impressed by this prophet who has come to rattle their world. Here are three examples of how our Lord handles questions.
Mark 12, The Message
Paying Taxes to Caesar
13-14 They sent some Pharisees and followers of Herod to bait him, hoping to catch him saying something incriminating. They came up and said, “Teacher, we know you have integrity, that you are indifferent to public opinion, don’t pander to your students, and teach the way of God accurately. Tell us: Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
15-16 He knew it was a trick question, and said, “Why are you playing these games with me? Bring me a coin and let me look at it.” They handed him one.
“This engraving—who does it look like? And whose name is on it?”
“Caesar,” they said.
17 Jesus said, “Give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.”
Their mouths hung open, speechless.
BUT THE QUESTIONS DON’T END…
18-23 Some Sadducees, the party that denies any possibility of resurrection, came up and asked, “Teacher, Moses wrote that if a man dies and leaves a wife but no child, his brother is obligated to marry the widow and have children. Well, there once were seven brothers. The first took a wife. He died childless. The second married her. He died, and still no child. The same with the third. All seven took their turn, but no child. Finally the wife died. When they are raised at the resurrection, whose wife is she? All seven were her husband.”
24-27 Jesus said, “You’re way off base, and here’s why: One, you don’t know your Bibles; two, you don’t know how God works. After the dead are raised up, we’re past the marriage business. As it is with angels now, all our ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God. And regarding the dead, whether or not they are raised, don’t you ever read the Bible? How God at the bush said to Moses, ‘I am—not was—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? The living God is God of the living, not the dead. You’re way, way off base.”
Finally a scholar who is seriously asking for clarification and understanding…
28 One of the religion scholars came up. Hearing the lively exchanges of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question: “Which is most important of all the commandments?”
29-31 Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”
32-33 The religion scholar said, “A wonderful answer, Teacher! So lucid and accurate—that God is one and there is no other. And loving him with all passion and intelligence and energy, and loving others as well as you love yourself. Why, that’s better than all offerings and sacrifices put together!”
34 When Jesus realized how insightful he was, he said, “You’re almost there, right on the border of God’s kingdom.”
After that, no one else dared ask a question.
What do we learn?
–Good questions, with right motivations, teach us well. It is always good to ask questions for understanding.
–The most important answer to the greatest question is this:
“The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”
–We’re almost there.
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for understanding us, allowing us to ask questions and helping us to intimately love you more and more each day. Thank you for helping us love others by teaching us how You work, how you love. Be with us this day and help us to live knowing You, loving You and loving others. Put the smile on our face and the spring in our step. Be our strength and our song all day long and into the night. I love you, Lord with all my heart, mind and soul. You make me see things differently when my eyes are fixed on You.
In Jesus Name, Amen