Ever been asked a sneaky question?
Updated: Oct 26, 2021
Description: Some people questioned Jesus just to cause him trouble. His answers astounded them. He’ll willingly guide us when we’re unsure what to do.
If you've ever been asked a really sneaky question, you've probably felt your brain turn slowly to mush.
It’s bad enough if you’re on your own, but what if dozens, even hundreds of people are waiting on your response? What if you know the questioner is out to get you? Stuff of nightmares, but Jesus was often asked really tough questions by people out to trick and discredit him.
How Jesus turned the tables
One example: Jesus was asked, ‘Is it right to pay the poll-tax to Caesar or not?’ (Matthew 22.17). What a sneaky question! If Jesus has said, no, that would have put him in deep trouble with the occupying Romans; if he’d said, yes, he would have been regarded as a traitor or worse, probably by many of his supporters.
He turned the tables on his questioners by asking for a coin and getting them to tell him whose image and inscription was on it. He might also have asked: what are you pious Jews doing with a coin bearing an idolatrous image of the emperor of our nation’s political oppressors? But he didn’t. Instead he stumped them utterly by saying: ‘give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.’ (Matthew 22.21). You don’t get answers like that out of a cracker – and it wasn’t the only time he floored his opponents.
Jesus does it again
Another example is when the Sadducees asked a question about the marital status of a particularly unlucky woman. First, she married the eldest of seven brothers, but he died leaving no children. This meant that she was obliged to marry the next brother in line, but he too died leaving no children. This pattern continued until she’d married all seven brothers and then finally died herself. The Sadducees question was, ‘at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?’(Matthew 22.23-28) Sneaky, or what!
The Sadducees didn’t really care about the answer, mainly because they didn’t believe in life after death. It wasn’t explicit in the five books of Moses and these were the only scriptures they accepted as authoritative. They figured that the resurrection was an area where they could make Jesus’ teaching look ridiculous – but they’d picked the wrong guy.
No knots for Jesus
Instead of tying himself in knots, Jesus asked if they’d actually read, ‘what God said to you, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.’ (Matthew 22.31.32). Note the ‘I am’; God didn’t say, ‘I was’, which would have been the case if Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had been dead. This rebuff came directly from Exodus (3.6) – the second Book of Moses. It exposed their hard-hearted refusal to understand and completely silenced them.
So next time someone asks you a sneaky question, say a little prayer to one who knows all the answers. He may not come up with a stumper, but you can be sure He’s there willing and able to guide you.
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.