Thrive: Questions – Allison Kentle


Matthew 21-22

The tension could be cut with a knife, questions flying all over the place.

Matthew 21-22 make it pretty clear that Jesus and the religious leaders are not BFFs, for these chapters are filled with questions. The crowd asks, “Who is he?” Someone responds, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.” But the religious leaders are not so sure. They think it is time to test Jesus and to evaluate him by how well he can answer their questions.

The religious leaders ask Jesus about his authority. They say, “What gives you the right to do these things?” And Jesus answers their question with one of his own: “Where did John’s right to baptize come from? Was his baptism from God or humans?” The leaders are stumped. They cannot say what they really think because their answer might make the crowds mad. So they give the classic non-answer: “We don’t know.” And Jesus does not answer their question either.

A back-and-forth battle commences.

Jesus then tells several parables, one about two sons, one about the tenants of the vineyard, and one about a wedding feast. Jesus is not making any friends by telling these stories.

Then the religious leaders ask even harder questions about taxes, about rising from death, and about the greatest commandment. This time Jesus artfully answers each question thrown at him. Finally, Jesus ends the discussion by asking them a question they cannot answer.

Clearly, the religious leaders are creating a test for God. They wrote the test, and they defined the answers. They held on to the key. They had the right religious answers, and they expected Jesus to step in line with those answers. The religious leaders had created their own image of piety, and they expected Jesus to follow.

Drawing boundaries within which God can work, projecting our expectations on God is so tempting. Like the religious leaders, we are often caught in this web too. We like things to be black and white. Rules are easier to follow when there is not a lot of gray. But becoming rigid in our expectations and overbearing in our demands may just break us.

In the end, Jesus failed those tests given by the religious leaders. He refused to be defined by their rules. Jesus would not ignore the broken or the outcast. He refused to love “only the worthy.” Instead, Jesus sought to redefine the way the religious leaders understood life and love and even God.

What about us? Today, are we testing God, while holding the answer key that we have written? Or are we asking God questions in a way that allows God’s answers to reshape our questions?

Allison_Kentle_smAllison Kentle serves as minister to students and families at University Baptist Church in Shawnee, Oklahoma and is passionate about youth ministry. Allison received a Master of Divinity degree from Truett Theological Seminary. She enjoys being creative, reading, and spending time with her husband, Jarris. They are expecting their first child in November.

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