How to Answer Difficult Questions
In life we are asked many questions. Often knowing how to answer these questions is not straight forward. So what is the best way to answer a difficult question?
In Luke chapter 20 we see Jesus asked three different types of questions, to which he provides three different types of answers.
The first difficult question Jesus is asked is in verse 2: “By what authority are you doing these things?” the chief priests ask him. This is a trick question and Jesus knows it. He answers this difficult question not with an answer, but with a further question: “Tell me, John’s baptism, was it from heaven, or of human origin?”
After some discussion, they realise that that themselves have been somewhat duped. So they answer “We don’t know where it was from.”
Jesus then answers their initial question with the answer “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things”
In this instance Jesus resists the bait that the chief priests set for him and decides that the best way to answer their difficult questions is to pause, consider the implications of any answer He might give and to throw a question back to them.
The second difficult question arrives in verse 21 when the high priests attempt to set a trap for Jesus. They begin by charming Jesus; telling him that they know He speaks and teaches what is right, and does not show partiality but teaches the way of God in accordance with the truth. Once they think they have got Jesus on their side they hit Him with a hammer difficult question: “Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
This is an absolute set-up. Jesus knows that if He says that people do not need to pay taxes then He will be accused of treason towards Caesar, and if He says they do need to pay taxes, then he will be seen to be siding with the oppressive regime of Caesar.
Jesus again manages to avoid giving them the answer they are expecting, and instead of simply replying using the options He was provided with, Jesus decides the best way to answer this difficult question is to approach things from a different angle, He says: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God’s."
The third question Jesus is asked is found in verse 34. It seems this question from the Sadducees is far more honest and straight forward, and it is in a similar straight forward and honest way that Jesus answers.
In this answer we see Jesus recognising the genuine heart and desire for Kingdom based knowledge behind the questioning.
When we are faced with a question it can be very easy to simply rush into a response, sometimes under pressure. Often when a question is asked, what is being verbalised is merely a facade for something much deeper; often the true nature of the question lies beneath.
Using Jesus as our example perhaps we need to pray for the Holy Spirit’s help; first to discern the nature of the question, and then to provide an appropriate response.