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Sunday, September 21, 2014

He Asked Questions

For insights to last week's study on Psalm 25: Sweet Sorrow, scroll to the bottom of the study HERE.

"In apologetics... you can give a lot of answers that have nothing to do with the questions" ~ Ravi Zacharias 

Zacharias, an expert apologist, encourages Christians to imitate Jesus, Who often asked questions before giving answers. 

When the rich young ruler asked “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” most of us would have gone through a prepared speech ending in the sinner's prayer. 

But Christ said, “Why do you call me good?” and He probed deeper to discover the man's intent. 

Although it's not an evangelism verse, James 1:19-20 is a great strategy: 

"You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry." 

When we share Christ:
  • We should take time to listen and ask questions.
  • We should think before we speak.
  • We shouldn't take disagreements personally.
It's easy to use formulas when sharing Christ, but we do more good by discovering what people are really saying and answering the right questions. 

Story of rich young ruler: Mark 10:17-27

Bible Study

1. Examine one or both of the questions below. What was Christ's purpose in asking them?

1. "Do you believe I am able to do this?"
Matthew 9: 27-30: As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” 28 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied. 29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; 30 and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” 

2. “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?
Luke 5:17-26: One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. 18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.

20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.” 

Before reading these insights, please work through the study. 

1. "Do you believe I am able to do this?" 

The blind men addressed Jesus as "Son of David" a title used for the Messiah (Read More). Jesus asked if they believed He could open the eyes of the blind, a Messianic prophecy (Isaiah 42:1-9).  

Jesus probably was not so much questioning their faith as asking them to publicly profess it, both for their benefit and the benefit of those observing this miracle. Once they responded, He did not question them further. He knew their hearts. 

This is one healing that Jesus ascribes directly to faith, but we mustn't fall into the trap of thinking healing is always dependent on our faith. Christ healed many others who never believed (see the story of the 10 Lepers in Luke 17:11-19).

2. “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 

This is such an intriguing question--which is easier to say? Actually, it is just as easy to SAY one as the other. The proof is in the doing.

Both forgiveness and physical healing had visible results in the life of this man, but the immediate proof would be in the man's physical healing. It would be difficult to immediately observe the results of God's forgiveness.

Which is easier to do, forgive sins or heal paralysis? Forgiving sins is the greatest miracle because sin is mankind's universal illness resulting in eternal death and God's forgiveness is mankind's greatest need. 

"[Christ's] miracles of bodily healing are parables of that higher miracle"* 

Christ read the heart of the sick man and realized he was sorry for his sins. His sins may or may not have been related to his illness, but Christ's highest purpose has always been to heal the soul. 

Christ also read the hard-hearts of the Pharisees, but they were unmoved by His knowledge of their hearts or His ability to heal. This is true of the hard-hearted today. 

*MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

copyright 2014, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com
All Scripture NIV unless otherwise noted

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