Have you ever noticed that Jesus asked a lot of questions? It is one of the ways he taught and preached (“Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give him a stone?” Mt. 7:9). Questions are also a hallmark of Jesus’ encounters with individuals (“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Jn. 21:15). In fact, the Gospels record more than one hundred questions asked by Jesus! (See Msgr. Charles Pope’s compilation of “100 Questions Jesus Asked and You Must Answer.”)
Questions have an effect on us that answers do not. They draw us in. They create space for a natural process of reflection and learning rather than a quick and easy leap to pat answers. They invest us in our own answers, or in our own search for answers. The answers we come to on our own ultimately mean more to us than the answers someone else provides (consider, for example, the classic question: “Who do you say that I am?”). Jesus did not need to be educated in the Socratic Method to know this. He only needed to understand human nature.
There are times and circumstances in life when one or another of Jesus’ questions will pierce us to the heart. On Saturday at Mass, I was struck by a question Jesus asks in the Sermon on the Plain: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I tell you?” (Lk. 6:46). We could certainly ask ourselves that one on a daily basis.
Here are a few more of Jesus’ questions to ponder. Each one can be an occasion for prayer, an opportunity for self-reflection, or just an honest moment between yourself and the One who is asking:
Why are you afraid? (Mt. 8:26)
What do you want me to do for you? (Mt. 20:32)
Do you believe that I can do this? (Mt. 9:28)
If I am telling you the truth, why do you not believe me? (Jn. 8:46)
Have I been with you for so long and still you do not know me? (Jn. 14:9)