THE shelf life of the average church sermon is probably about 20 minutes after it’s delivered. The transforming words of Jesus are recalled 2000 years after he spoke them.
Jesus only directly answered three of the 183 questions he was asked, according to the gospel accounts.
Sometimes he put the question back on the inquirer. Sometimes he just remained silent.
His own unnerving questions seemed designed to make people think; to challenge their image of God or the world.
As author Richard Rohr pointed out, Jesus’ style was “almost exactly the opposite of modern televangelism’’.
“Jesus is too much the Jewish prophet to merely stabilise the status quo by platitudes or euphemisms.
“He much more destabilises the false assumptions on which the entire question or one’s world view is built.’’
Jesus was the one with all the right questions. He asked people what they wanted and what they believed.
He told wonderful parables, created tension through antitheses and then asked the listeners whether they believed in the message.
“Who do you say I am?’’ he asked several times. “Who do you seek?’’
His critics were undone by his logic rich in subtleties. He was the master of the unexpected twist.
At the start of the gospel of John, right after he was baptised, Jesus was followed by two men, later to become disciples.
When he noticed these two followers, Jesus turned around, looked them in the eye and asked, “What are you looking for?’’
He knew the answer but asked anyway.
Those first disciples were caught off guard. So they asked Jesus a question. “Where are you staying?’’ And Jesus welcomed them into his life with a challenge. “Come and see,’’ he said. How could they resist?