On Sunday, friend and pastor Stephanie Vos shared a sermon which was equally beautiful, honest, and poignant at Trinity Lutheran Church. The sermon was grounded in the text of Luke 20:1-8. In unpacking the passage, Stephanie broke it into four parts:
1) A question about authority, posed by the chief priests, scribes and elders (vs. 1-2)
2) A question about John’s Baptism, posed by Jesus (vs. 3-4)
3) Deliberation (between the scribes, priests and elders in vs. 5-6), which Stephanie connected nicely to the deliberation that went on at World Vision over the previous week.
4) The provision of an answer of “we don’t know” (vs. 7-8)
It’s not often that I have heard someone preaching simply say, “I don’t know.” Yes, the elders, priests and scribes answered this way, but it leaves the door open for us to answer this way as well. It was very refreshing to hear and sense that openness to that honesty in a sermon. Questions are great to offer. Wrestling with questions is a central part of faith and our own theological reflection and discernment.
I greatly appreciate Stephanie’s preference for “good questions over good answers.” I share that same preference. Answers don’t generally lead to imagination and possibility. They are good and important, but if they don’t lead to more questions that’s a sort of dead-end almost.
The main reason why I wanted to share this sermon with you on the blog is that I feel its rather timely given recent conversations here, and wondering about different questions and about simply asking questions.
In the text in Luke, Jesus is redirecting questions or perspectives, kind of something I believe that still happens with our questions and perspectives. When we take them to God in prayer, conversation and discernment we inevitably are probably redirected some how, though we may not recognize it at the time.
There is another important reminder in this text which Stephanie highlights. “Asking tough questions leads to getting tough answers.” This is part of the journey of faith and life. Sometimes this even takes us to a point of “total unknowing.” But you know what, that’s okay. Because its exactly at that realization of unknowing that we are most reminded of our need for and relationship with God.
When the scribes say they do not know, its not the only occurrence of not knowing in the gospel of Luke. Think about it, as we journey towards the cross this Lenten season. We are reminded of Jesus’ words on the cross, “Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Indeed, we don’t know always what we do. But we do know that there is much we don’t know, which points to the importance of our relationship with God and the reminder that God is with us and for us.
What do you think? Does this sermon and reflection help the conversation in thinking about questions and their importance? What questions come to mind for you? What questions would you like to ask because of this or related to this?
Image Credit: Question mark