Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: QUESTION (S) (05/30/19)
TITLE: Will We Ever Learn?
By Catherine Drabble
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(Matt 17: 17 The Message).
Do the above words make you wonder what is going on? Do they make you want to read the story in full?
These words came tumbling out of the mouth of Jesus. They are strong, shocking words and are made even more powerful by His use of rhetorical questions. Jesus didn’t expect anyone to answer Him and, by their very definition, rhetorical questions do not demand a verbal response. What they do initiate though, is a mental and often emotional reaction.
So, what caused this outcry? Moments before a man had brought his sick son to the disciples, hoping that they could help, but because of their lack of faith the child couldn’t be healed. Those closest to Jesus hadn’t fully understood who He was and had failed to trust in Him. In response to this Jesus spoke out. He wasn’t addressing an unbelieving public, he was speaking to His disciples and his frustration showed. Subsequently, the boy was healed when Jesus prayed for him.
How do you think the disciples must have felt when the Lord that they loved, rebuked them in this way? He was a master teacher who had limited time and so His words had to be succinct to have immediate impact. Jesus was no dictator. He wanted people to think for themselves. By using this way of questioning he created an atmosphere where his audience were no longer passive listeners but active participants. He wanted them to reason. He wants us to reason!
His words and the way they were phrased were intentional. I imagine He wanted to make them sit up and take notice and I believe he wanted his questions to stimulate critical thinking. He was forcing them to engage in and consider their beliefs and the part they had to play in His unfolding story. By using shock tactics, he wanted his disciples to listen and reflect and then to learn and reconsider.
The New Testament is full of Christ’s questions that require deep, heartfelt contemplation. When talking to a crowd he asked “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” when his mother and biological brothers were stood outside wanting to speak to Him. His words may have appeared harsh to his family but he had an important point to make and wanted people to think beyond the physical. (Matt 12: 46-50)
On another occasion, when the disciples were in a boat with Jesus, He gave them a warning telling them to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod. When they heard His words they started to argue with each other because they didn’t have any bread with them in the boat! They had clearly missed the point because they weren’t looking with spiritual eyes or thinking with a spiritual mind. Jesus responded to this with a set of perfect rhetorical questions “Why are you arguing about having no bread? “Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? You have eyes – can’t you see? You have ears – can’t you hear? Don’t you remember anything at all?” (Mark 8: 14-18 NLT)
I would encourage us all to read the Scriptures and when we come across one of Jesus’ rhetorical questions to not rush past it but to stop, to think and to ponder; to look beyond the words and analyse what point He is making. We then need to seek a response in ourselves that, changes us, and gives us a deeper understanding. I would urge us to do this, as often as we can, because I, for one, don’t want to hear my precious Lord say to me “How many times must I go over these things? Will you ever learn?”
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