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Jesus and Disruptive Questions

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In Luke 10:25-37, we find a lawyer trying to trip up the Savior with his disruptive questions and justify himself in sin:

And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He [Christ] said unto him [the lawyer], What is written in the law? how readest thou?

[Here, Christ is establishing a starting point. He's asking the lawyer to explain what he already knows so that he, the Master Teacher, can know where to begin. Christ could have gotten upset or angry or zapped the questioner, but he chose instead to treat the lawyer's tempting, or provoking, question as a teaching opportunity. When a student asks a "tempting" question, teachers must keep their cool.]

And he [the lawyer] answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he [Jesus Christ] said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

[At this point, the Savior reaffirms the man's correct understanding of the law. He has treated the lawyer respectfully, and caused the man to bear his own witness of the truth. Teachers can help students recognize core truths by referring to the scriptures.]

But he [the lawyer], willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

[The lawyer is trying to provoke or trap the teacher and excuse his own sin. This question indicates that the lawyer understands the rule, but he does not understand the gospel principle. Now, the Savior has something to work with -- a lesson to teach. Christ recognizes this question is a teaching opportunity. He does not get angry or upset, but in this case, he answers the question with a story: the Good Samaritan.]

And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. … Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

[Christ ends his story with a challenge to the lawyer to help him change his behavior.]

We can learn a great deal from studying the Savior's teaching methods in the New Testament. Christ rarely answers a question harshly. He treats every question respectfully, defusing the situation. As the situation calms, the Spirit can enter, allowing both parties to be edified and guided to an answer. With calm patience, the real reason behind the provoking question will become apparent. You'll be able to answer it and establish a classroom where love and gospel scholarship can exist.

Does this sound difficult? Are you unsure of your ability to handle difficult questions? Remember that you've been set apart to teach. You have access to the Holy Spirit, as do the others in your classroom. Your students are children of God who belong to him, and He will help you reach them. Ask your other students to help respond when there's a difficult problem. They may be able to help. If after trying you can't get to an answer, explain to the students that you don't know the answer. Promise to provide the answer at your next class, or bear your testimony of the related truths you do know.


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