Bible Basics 5
A number of years ago I saw a bumper sticker on a car that read: “The Bible said it. I believe it. That settles it.” I doubt that Jesus would’ve put that bumper sticker on his car. First of all, of course, Jesus not only did not own a car he did not own its equivalent- which in that day was a donkey. He had to borrow one for the entrance into Jerusalem. More importantly, Jesus knew that the Bible was as much about questions as it is about final answers. Great rabbis in Jesus day often taught by questions. Even today that is the case. I remember a story told of a woman who went into a photography shop in Israel that was owned by a rabbi who had survived the Holocaust. The American tourist asked the rabbi,“ of all the pictures in your shop which one is your favorite?”
He responded, “Are you married?”
She answered, “Why yes I am. Why do you ask?”
“Do you have children?” he asked her.
“Yes,” she said. “I have three children. Why do you ask?”
The rabbi responded to her, “Which one of them is your favorite?”
Without directly answering her questions he had let her discover the answer through his questions.
Recall that age 12, Jesus is in the temple questioning the teachers- not because he doesn’t know the text but because he does! His questions show that he is the teacher. Note also how few times Jesus actually answers a direct question in the Gospels. He ‘answers’ most often by means of a question or a story. This method of teaching forces the hearer to participate in the answers to the questions.
So today’s Bible basic is that the Bible is as much a book of questions as it is answers. It is meant to raise questions of us, not so that we find permanent answers but so that we will turn to Jesus, the Holy Spirit and each other to find direction for our day. This may even help us ask a better and more helpful question than the one we would have asked when originally looking for an easy answer from the text. Ancient rabbis found the discussion and debate around a question to be more holy than the quick and struggle free answer. They called their vigorous debate on questions raised by the text “argument for the sake of heaven.” It seems they discovered that the questions raised by the Bible brought them closer to God and life in the kingdom of God than did the answers!