What He Wanted to Know
ISBN 031024773X (9780310247739)
When children - indeed, when we ourselves - ask questions it's usually to learn, to gain knowledge about something or someone. Would it come as a surprise to you to find out that Jesus asked questions as well?
With a book as down-to-earth and reader-friendly as this, the best approach is to let it speak for itself. The following extract, headed "Whaddya Want?" (pp.140 -141), is taken from the final chapter. It brings us to the critical question Jesus asked - and still asks - today:
There was a blind man begging on the road near Jericho. Hearing that Jesus was passing by, he called out to Jesus. "What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asks.
Doesn't this strike you as kind of a stupid thing to ask? If I had been the blind guy, I know I would have squinted behind my dark glasses and brandished my white cane to punctuate my words: "What do you think I want, El Prophetismo? I'm blind!"
Now, alright. I know that probably very few blind people in the first century had white sticks, seeing-eye dogs, and dark glasses. But I find it difficult to believe that the man could walk or be led over to Jesus (Mark 10:50; Luke 18:40) without Jesus figuring out what was wrong with him. Jesus was perceptive enough to work out people's motivations before they spoke; he was perceptive enough to work out that he was dealing with a blind man.
Throughout the book, however, it has become clear that Jesus was usually plying the questions he asked for purposes other than the acquisition of knowledge. This is no exception. He wants the man to reply, but it is not data that he desires. This odd question stands directly in line with the central question of the gospels, "Who do you say that I am?" Like the parables, the questions are not about the answer as much as they are about the answerer. The questions, like the parables, force the people with whom Jesus is conversing to take a stand and make a decision. That's what he is after.
As I was reading this book, I found myself stopping, picking up my Bible, and looking for the questions that Jesus asked. What is the decision that Jesus wants? This is a book to make you look at the passages in the gospels in a different light: I recommend it.
Dorothy Laver, May 2003
Until retiring to Dorset in 2006, Dorothy Laver was a Lay Reader and Worship Assistant at St Matthew's, Yiewsley.
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