The Questions of Jesus

I have been working on a prayer response to a session on ‘Questioning’ by Peter Chapman for young people at this coming weekend’s Common Rule Retreat .  This theme is one close to my heart as one of the queries we embrace as part of the Seeds Covenant  is:

“How do the questions from the gospel stories shape our understanding?”

At the Common Rule Retreat we will be creating a large walking spiral at night which will be filled with illuminated paper bags and glass jars.

  1. People are invited to consider the question that is most urgent or animating in their life right now.
  2. Invitation to write or paste newspaper pictures and text on a tissue paper coloured glass jar as a symbol of your personal question.
  3. Invitation to consider ones own personal question alongside the questions of Jesus as they come to us in the gospels.  Firstly consider your own question in relation to the themes suggested by John Dear in his book “The Questions of Jesus” then consider one of the specific 125 questions of Jesus listed below.
  4. Invitation to write the “Question of Jesus” on a brown paper bag.
  5. Particpants are invited to take a journey on the spiral to the centre where there is a central candle on a wooden cross and to illuminate their bags and or jars by lighting tea light candles.
  6. Invitation to place jar/bag at a certain point on the pathway as an image of the questions of Jesus, merging with our own and lighting the path for ourselves and others.


The Questions of Jesus

as categorised by John Dear

1. Invitation
  • What are you looking for?
  • Why are you looking for me?
  • What do you want me to do for you?
An excerpt from John Dear’s book on the three questions above can be found here.
  • Who do people say that I am?
  • But who do you say that I am?
  • Why do you ask me about what is good?
  • Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?
  • Woman, how does your concern affect me?
  • Who is my mother? Who are my brothers and sisters?
  • What is your opinion about the Messiah?  Whose son is he?
  • Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
  • Can the wedding guests mourn while the bridegroom is with them?
  • Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?
  • Faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you?
  • Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you or naked and clothe you?  When did we see you ill or in prison and visit you?… Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison and not minister to your needs?
  • Have I been with you for so long a time and you still don not know me?
3. Purity of Heart
  • What are you thinking in your hearts?
  • Why do you harbour evil thoughts?
  • Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?
4. Conversion
  • Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother “Let me remove that splinter from your eye”, while the wooden beam is in your eye?
  • Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them, do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem?
5. Love
  • If you love only those who love you, what credit is that to you?  Do not the tax collectors do the same?
  • If you greet your brothers only , what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?
  • If you do good only to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?  If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you?
  • Which of them will love me more?
5. Healing
  • Do you want to be well?
  • Who touched me?
  • What is your name?
  • How long has this been happening to him?
  • Which is easier, to say to the paralytic,  “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say “Rise, pick up your mat and walk”?
6. Vision
  • Do you see anything?
  • You see all these things, do you not?
  • Can a blind person guide a blind person?  Will not both fall into a pit?
  • Do you see this woman?
  • What if you were to see the Son of Humanity ascending to where he was before?
7. Compassion
  • Which one of these three, in your opinion, was neighbour to the robbers victim?
  • Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?
  • Why do you make trouble for her?
8. The Meaning of Life
  • What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?
  • What could one give in exchange for their life?
  • Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life span?  If even the smallest things are beyond your control why are you anxious about the rest?
  • Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
  • Are you not more important than the birds of the sky?
  • Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil? To save life rather than destroy it?
  • Who is greater, the one seated at table or the one who serves?  Is it not the one seated at the table?
9. The Reign of God
  • What is the reign of God like? To what can I compare it?
  • To what shall we compare the reign of God, or what parable can we use for it?
  • Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
10. God’s Generosity
  • Why are you anxious about clothes?
  • Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish?
  • What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish?  Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?  If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?
  • How many loaves do you have?
  • If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will God not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
  • Will not God secure the rights of God’s chosen ones who call out to God day and night?  Will God be slow to answer them?
  • Ten were cleansed, were they not?  Where are the other nine?
  • Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?
11. Faith
  • Where is your faith?
  • Do you believe in the Son of Humanity?
  • Do you believe that I can do this?
  • you of little faith, why did you doubt?
  • Do you not yet have faith?
  • Why are you terrified?
  • When the Son of Humanity comes, will he find faith on earth?
  • But if you do not believe the writings of Moses, how will you believe my words?
  • Why this commotion and weeping?
  • Why does this generation seek a sign?
  • Then to what shall I compare the people of this generation?  What are they like?
  • How can you believe, when you accept the praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?
  • Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?
  • Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
  • Do you believe now?
12. Truth
  • If I am telling the truth why do you not believe me?
  • Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath or not?
  • Tell me, was John’s baptism of heavenly or of human origins?
  • Show me a denarius; whose image and name does it bear?
13. Understanding
  • Why do you not understand what I am saying?
  • Do you not yet understand or comprehend?  Are your hearts hardened?  Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? Do you still not understand?
  • You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this?
  • If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?
  • Are even you likewise without understanding?
  • Do you understand all these things?
  • Why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
  • Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?
  • Are you not misled because you do not know the Scriptures of the power of God?
  • Does this shock you?
14. Obedience
  • Why do you call me “Lord, Lord,” but not do what I command?
  • Why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?
  • What were you arguing about on the way?
  • Who then is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time?
  • Why are you testing me?
  • Is it not written:  My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples?
15. Discipleship
  • Will you lay down your life for me?
  • Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?
  • Do you also want to leave?
  • Did I not choose you twelve?
  • When I sent you for the without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything?
  • Do you realise what I have done for you?
  • If there were not (many dwelling places in my Father’s house) would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
  • Could you not keep watch with me for one hour?
  • Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?
  • Why are you sleeping?
16. Arrest and Trial
  • Whom are you looking for?
  • Shall I not drink the cup that God gave me?
  • Judas, are you betraying the Son of Humanity with a kiss?
  • Have you come out as a robber, with swords to seize me?
  • Do you think that I cannot call upon my God and he will not provide me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels?  But then how would the Scripture be fulfilled which say that it must come to pass this way?
  • Why ask me?
  • If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong, but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?
  • Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?
17. The Cross
  • For which of these good works are you trying to stone me?
  • Why are you trying to kill me?
  • What should I say, “Father, save me from this hour”?
  • At that time people will say to the mountains, “Fall upon us!” and to the fills, “Cover us!” for if these things are done when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?
  • My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
18. The Resurrection
  • Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom are you looking for?
  • Concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”?
  • I am the Resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die; do you believe this?
  • What are you discussing as you walk along? What things?
  • Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?
  • Why are you troubled?  Why do questions arise in your hearts?
  • Have you anything here to eat?
  • Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
  • Children, have you caught anything to eat?
  • Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?  Do you love me? Do you love me?
Podcast of Conrad Gempf’s “Jesus Asked”
Joel Giallanza CSC

6 Replies to “The Questions of Jesus”

  1. Hey Marcus,
    Bernard Lonergan says Questioning is the key task for Consciousness and therefore undergirds all ‘conversion’ and all human knowing.
    Thanks for this post.

  2. Thanks Chelle,
    Would love a reference for that quote…
    I would love to have the time and space to read…
    I am jealous but very appreciative of the reading work you are doing and you’re ability to write and communicate what you are discovering.
    It’s precious!

  3. Great stuff Marcus. We’re going to use some of those questions in a worship service on “Who do you say I am?” I remember hearing John Dear speak in Melbs at Collins St Baps – were you there? Sally

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