When Jesus was 12 years old: “After three days they (his parents, Joseph and Mary) found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” — Luke 2:46
Whether you are a follower of Jesus or not, we would all do well to study the communication practices of the greatest communicator in all of history.
Jesus’ communication style focused on two things: He told great stories and asked Great Questions!
I don’t know about you, but I ask a lot of questions because I do not know the answers. That was never true of Jesus. He knew all of the answers and yet He focused so much of His interaction with people on asking them questions. The four Gospels record 339 Questions Jesus Asked.
Why do you think He asked so many questions? Take a couple of minutes to list 3-5 reasons you think He asked so many questions?
Here are a few that I have come up with:
Questions to make a human connection: “When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.).”
— John 4:7–9
Questions that caused introspection: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
— Luke 6:32–36
Questions that gave balance to their grievances with others: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, Let me take the speck out of your eye, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?”
— Matthew 6:3–4
Questions to make an argument: “Then Jesus asked them, Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”
— Mark 3:4
“If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?”
— Matthew 18:12b
Warm up questions: “Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, Who do people say I am? They replied, Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
— Mark 8: 27–28
In general, people love to talk about others and will almost always quickly respond when you ask them about other people.
To-the-point questions: “‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah.’”
Questions that revealed inadequacy: “His disciples answered, ‘Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?’ ‘How many loaves do you have?’ Jesus asked. ‘Seven,’ they replied, ‘and a few small fish.’”
— Matthew 15: 33–34
Questions that allowed people to voice their own needs: “As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!’ The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!’ Jesus stopped and called them. ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ he asked. ‘Lord,’ they answered, ‘we want our sight.’ Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.”
— Matthew 20:29–34
Clever questions: “‘Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?’ But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, ‘You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.’ They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, ‘Whose image is this? And whose inscription?’ ‘Caesar’s’ they replied. Then he said to them, ‘So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.’ When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.”
— Matthew 22:17–22
He answered questions with questions: “They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. ‘By what authority are you doing these things?’ they asked. ‘And who gave you authority to do this?’ Jesus replied, ‘I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism— was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!‘ They discussed it among themselves and said, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will ask, “Then why didn’t you believe him?” But if we say, “Of human origin”’ … (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.) So they answered Jesus, ‘We don’t know.’ Jesus said, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.’”
— Mark 11:27–33
Questions that asked his listeners to tell the point of a parable: ”’Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ The expert in the law replied, ‘‘The one who had mercy on him.’”
— Luke 10:36–37
It is easy for us to miss the real brilliance of this question because, in our culture, we have no hatred for Samaritans. But in those days the Jews hated the Samaritans. Those living in northern Israel would take the long route to Jerusalem, simply to avoid going through Samaria. So when Jesus asks, “Who was the neighbor?” there was most likely a long pause before the Jewish expert in the law replied, and almost certainly it was very difficult for him to verbalize that the hero of this story was a Samaritan when he hated all Samaritans. Jesus could have told this story and ended by stating, “Therefore, the Samaritan was the good neighbor,” but instead He brilliantly asked the expert in the law to answer; knowing how potentially powerful answering that question might be in his life and the lives of the others present.
And lastly, my favorite question: “What do you think?”
— Matthew 18:12
If you are not sure or would like to know more about who Jesus is, I would be delighted to send you one of my favorite books, More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell, my former colleague of 24 years. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address and your book will soon be on its way – with my compliments (offer available U.S. only).
You can download my second free eBook by visiting 339QuestionsJesusAsked.com.
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