One of the bigger mistakes people make in reading Scripture is that they read it as a spectator. For them Scripture is a collection of stories and events that took place thousands of years ago. True enough, we are reading historical accounts. But, truth be told these ancient stories are our stories. We are in the narrative. You are Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Deborah, Jeremiah, Ruth,  Peter, Paul, Magdalene, Mother Mary, and, if you are prepared to accept it, you are also Jesus. As the narrative we read unfolds, we are in the story. We cannot simply watch what others say or do or  answer. For what Peter and Magdalene and others did, we do. Peter denied and ran. So do we. Magdalene loved and never gave up, should should we. Magdalene had a sinful past and a promising future, so do we. Peter was passionate and had a temper so do we. But Peter also loved the Lord and ultimately gave his life for the Lord. So can we. Jesus suffered and died but rose again and ascended to glory. So have we and so will we.

The scriptures are our own story. We are in it. To read scripture as a mere spectator looking on is to miss the keynote. Scripture is our story.

In the light of this keynote there emerges another very important and powerful key to unlocking the text. The key is simply this: Answer the Question! Among the many things Jesus did, he asked a lot of questions! And whenever you read the Gospels and Jesus asks a question, answer it! Do not wait to see what Peter or Magdalene, or the Pharisees or the crowd say for an answer. You answer the question, in your own words. This brings Scripture powerfully alive.

So twenty years ago Bishop John Marshall,  Bishop of Burlington VT. and later Springfield Mass compiled a book: But Who Do You Say That I Am? In the book he collected and listed all the questions Jesus asked in the Gospels. And he encourages us to answer the question. He also listed questions asked by others in another section of the book. Bishop Marshall in listing the question gives extra verses for context and adds brief commentaries. However, I would like to list just the raw questions. I will give the verse reference so you can look it up. But I encourage you to print this list and take it to prayer. Read it slowly, perhaps over days or weeks. I have attached a PDF version of the List here: 100 Questions that Jesus asked and YOU must answer. Ponder each question. Answer each question prayerfully and reflectively. This is not the complete list of questions but it is surely food for thought. Now, answer the questions:

100 Questions that Jesus asked and YOU must answer:

  1. And if you greet your brethren only, what is unusual about that? Do not the unbelievers do the same? (Matt 5:47)
  2. Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your lifespan? Matt 6:27
  3. Why are you anxious about clothes? Matt 6:28
  4. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye yet fail to perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? (Matt 7:2)
  5. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? (Matt 7:16)
  6. Why are you terrified? (Matt 8:26)
  7. Why do you harbor evil thoughts? (Matt 9:4)
  8. Can the wedding guests mourn so long as the Bridegroom is with them? (Matt 9:15)
  9. Do you believe I can do this? (Matt 9:28)
  10. What did you go out to the desert to see? (Matt 11:8)
  11. To what shall I compare this generation? (Matt 11:6)
  12. Which of you who has a sheep that falls into a pit on the Sabbath will not take hold of it and lift it out? (Matt 12:11)
  13. How can anyone enter a strong man’s house and take hold of his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? (Matt 12:29)
  14. You brood of vipers! How can you say god things when you are evil? (Matt 12:34)
  15. Who is my mother? Who are my brothers? (Matt 12:48)
  16. Why did you doubt? (Matt 14:31)
  17. And why do you break the commandments of God for the sake of your tradition? (Matt 15:3)
  18. How many loaves do you have? (Matt 15:34)
  19. Do you not yet understand? (Matt 16:8)
  20. Who do people say the Son of Man is? (Matt 16:13)
  21. But who do you say that I am? (Matt 16:15)
  22. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life  and what can one give in exchange  for his life? (Matt 16:26)
  23. O faithless and perverse generation how long must I endure you? (Matt 17:17)
  24. Why do you ask me about what is good? (Matt 19:16)
  25. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink? (Matt 20:22)
  26. What do you want me to do for you? (Matt 20:32)
  27. Did you never read the scriptures? (Matt 21:42)
  28. Why are you testing me? (Matt 22:18)
  29. Blind fools, which is greater, the gold or the temple that makes the gold sacred….the gift of the altar that makes the gift sacred? (Matt 23:17-19)
  30. How are you to avoid being sentenced to hell? (Matt 23:33)
  31. Why do you make trouble for the woman? (Matt 26:10)
  32. Could you not watch for me one brief hour? (Matt 26:40)
  33. Do you think I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than 12 legions of angels? (Matt 26:53)
  34. Have you come out as against a robber with swords and clubs to seize me? (Matt 26:53)
  35. My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me? (Matt 27:46)
  36. Why are you thinking such things in your heart? (Mark 2:8)
  37. Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed rather than on a lamp stand? (Mark 4:21)
  38. Who has touched my clothes? (Mark 5:30)
  39. Why this commotion and weeping? (Mark 5:39)
  40. Are even you likewise without understanding? (Mark 7:18)
  41. Why does this generation seek a sign? (Mark 8:12)
  42. Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and still not see? Ears and not hear? (Mark 8:17-18)
  43. How many wicker baskets full of leftover fragments did you pick up? (Mark 8:19)
  44. [To the Blind man] Do you see anything? (Mark 8:23)
  45. What were arguing about on the way? (Mark 9:33)
  46. Salt is good, but what if salt becomes flat? (Mark 9:50)
  47. What did Moses command you? (Mark 10:3)
  48. Do you see these great buildings? They will all be thrown down. (Mark 13:2)
  49. Simon, are you asleep? (Mark 14:37)
  50. Why were you looking for me? (Luke 2:49)
  51. What are you thinking in your hearts? (Luke 5:22)
  52. Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I command? (Luke 6:46)
  53. Where is your faith (Luke 8:25)
  54. What is your name? (Luke 8:30)
  55. Who touched me? (Luke 8:45)
  56. Will you be exalted to heaven? (Luke 10:15)
  57. What is written in the law? How do you read it? (Luke 10:26)
  58. Which of these three in your opinion was neighbor to the robber’s victim? (Luke 10:36)
  59. Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? (Luke 11:40)
  60. Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbiter? (Luke 12:14)
  61. If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? (Luke 12:26)
  62. Why do you not judge for yourself what is right?  (Luke 12:57)
  63. What king, marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king marching upon him with twenty thousand troops? (Luke 14:31)
  64. If therefore you are not trustworthy with worldly wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? (Luke 16:11)
  65. Has none but this  foreigner returned to give thanks to God? (Luke 17:18)
  66. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? (Luke 18:7)
  67. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth? (Luke 18:8)
  68. For who is greater, the one seated a table or the one who serves? (Luke 22:27)
  69. Why are you sleeping? (Luke 22:46)
  70. For if these things are done when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry? (Luke 23:31)
  71. What are you discussing as you walk along? (Luke 24:17)
  72. Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter his glory? (Luke 24:26)
  73. Have you anything here to eat? (Luke 24:41)
  74. What are you looking for? (John 1:38)
  75. How does this concern of your affect me? (John 2:4)
  76. You are a teacher in Israel and you do not understand this? (John 3: 10)
  77. If I tell you about earthly things and you will not believe, how will you believe when I tell you of heavenly things? (John 3: 12)
  78. Do you want to be well? (John 5:6)
  79. How is it that you seek praise from one another and not seek the praise that comes from God? (John 5:44)
  80. If you do not believe Moses’ writings how will you believe me? (John 5:47)
  81. Where can we buy enough food for them to eat? (John 6:5)
  82. Does this (teaching of the Eucharist) shock you? (John 6:61)
  83. Do you also want to leave me? (John 6:67)
  84. Why are you trying to kill me? (John 7:19)
  85. Woman where are they, has no one condemned you? (John 8:10)
  86. Why do you not understand what I am saying? (John 8:43)
  87. Can any of you charge me with sin? (John 8:46)
  88. If I am telling you the truth, why do you not believe me? (John 8:46)
  89. Are there not twelve hours in a day? (John 11:9)
  90. Do you believe this? (John 11:26)
  91. Do you realize what I have done for you? (John 13:12)
  92. Have I been with you for so long and still you do not know me? (John 14:9)
  93. Whom are you looking for? (John 18:4)
  94. Shall I not drink the cup the Father gave me? (John 18:11)
  95. If I have spoken rightly, why did you strike me? (John 18:23)
  96. Do you say [what you say about me] on your own or have others been telling you about me? (John 18:34)
  97. Have you come to believe because you have seen me? (John 20:29)
  98. Do you love me? (John 21:16)
  99. What if I want John to remain until I come?  (John 21:22)
  100. What concern is it of yours? (John 21:22)

After all this you might have a few questions for God:

27 Responses

  1. Bender says:

    truth be told these ancient stories are our stories. We are in the narrative

    Going back to whether or not students know about Adam and Eve — in speaking of them to mine, I’ll refer to “the man” and “the woman” as “us” and “we” as much as I refer to them as “them,” especially if they want to know the who and the what and the why of the human person, as well as the root of every sin. And then, in reading the Passion accounts, every part really is applicable to us.

    Also, one thing that is sure to astonish most young teens is to have them imagine sitting in their room by themselves and they suddenly are aware of this presence, which they somehow know to be an angel, even though they have never seen an angel before, and then to tell them that when that happened to Mary, she was about their age.

  2. Nick says:

    Some of the questions, like thirty-eight, are funny out of context.

  3. El Bolillo Tejano says:

    Recently, I took an Ignatian retreat at a Jesuit retreat center. It was three days of silence. Very peaceful and relaxing!

    The most powerful part of these spiritual exercises is outing yourself “in the scene.”

    Often, I had thought about putting all Jesus’ questions together…and now you have shared this on the web.
    These questions are truly powerful for prayer and meditation.

    Enjoy the day!

    EB Tejano

    • Thanks. I am glad it is a good resource. I too have been meaning to do it for a long time, just type the questions out and have them at hand. Please note there are some I did not include that are in the book by Bishop Marshall but they could not easily be rendered without a fairly lengthy contextual quote. Hence the Book is still a good resource. However I cannot determine if it is still in print.

  4. Brian Z. says:

    Excellent post Father. #96 sticks out the most for me. It frustrates me when people speak of our Lord not because of their own faith Journey but because someone else who is of even less belief told them or because of the media’s portrayal. One that really hurts is how Pope Benedict can be perceived. My friend actually said, “The pope concerns me, I mean, he was part of the Hitler youth.” Are people really that jaded that they just accept a statement but not ask any questions? I was shocked too but my faith told me that this is NOT the whole story. So, I did my research and read the complete story. It just floors me how people are just that dense, especially when information is a mouse click away these days. It’s almost like they want to find a flaw to free themselves from having to accept that their really are things in the universe that science can not fully explain, or that humans are not the most powerful beings in existence. Even more frustrating is they do not realize what they are passing up. With all the problems we can encounter in our daily lives we still think the answer is in this world, within humanity. Our Lord is there reaching out, yet we turn away dismissing his efforts as luck or coincidence. Sometimes, I just have to shake my head at people. I am 34 years old and want to reach out to some of my friends, but then I think at this age they made up their minds, so what’s the point? Instead, I pray for them and their conversion. I want to do more but I also want to respect their free will. It’s very difficult but, ironically, it is through my own faith that I persevere and still pray for them at all. God Bless you Father for a very thought inspiring post.

    • Yes I like 96 a lot too. Our faith is supposed to be more than inferential it is supposed to be experiental. Thanks for persevering in evangelizing. Sometimes we must be content to plant seeds. We may not see the harvest but to plant seeds is still a great work.

      • El Bolillo Tejano says:

        Brian Z,

        Great point about the way the media treats Pope Benedict XVI. They falsely treat Benedict as if he is a “disaster” pope. Just like their take on most other subjects, the media is way out-to-lunch.

        That’s OK. Benedict is bringing the Pius, Orthodox and Anglicans closer to unity and communion with Rome. he is TRUELY making history. In fact, there is not one person on the planet who is more effectively bringing people together than Josef Ratzinger.

        Take comfort in this, Brian: 200 years from now, people will be reading Ratzinger along with St. Augustine and Aquinas. Also, history books will feature him as the motivating force to lead the end of the “great schism”.

        It is all a paradox that Ratzinger is treated this way, but the good news is that God usually speaks to us in “paradox.”

        EB Tejano

      • Amy R says:

        Speaking of # 96, there is a tiny typo – you should be your.

  5. Cynthia BC says:

    Those over a certain age probably ask #23 rather frequently themselves. ;)

  6. Pat says:

    Great article & very thought-provoking.

    I like #41 – how true that human nature of each generation (individual) leads folks to want their own sign (revelation) or think that they should be able to make a deal wtih God – sort of a quid pro quo? Show me a sign ….and I’ll do this in return…..a/k/a/ “let’s make a deal”.

    Pat

  7. Katherine G ERT says:

    Very thought-provoking article. I just got back from my great-aunt’s funeral (where great-uncle Bill didn’t remember me and finally declared me as his granddaughter….sigh), and there were definitely a lot of different Christian religions there. I think the service itself was like half Catholic, half Lutheran…half something! What I’m getting to is that I realized that even though we all have different beliefs on stuff, as my born-again cousins put it, we are all children of God. My one cousin is from a healing church (a Christian religion but I’m not sure what and it seems very similar to Catholicism), and he and I were actually talking about Scripture and stuff and he was in shock that a “young person like me” was actually reading Scripture and picking up on what it’s all about. I have another cousin who’s a born-again Catholic, and it strikes me how the born-agains are so passionate about their religions. It makes me appreciate my faith and deepen it more, and become more passionate like they are.

    I didn’t know if you wanted me to actually answer the 100 questions, but I am going to print them out and reflect on them some more myself. I do quite a bit of writing, and I like stuff like this because it makes me sit down, and take the time to reflect on things.

  8. Bender says:

    98.Do you love me? (John 21:16)

    Well, that is the question. And a HUGE question it is too. One which many of us avoid, or end up answer the way Simon bar Jonah did, imperfectly and non-responsive to what Jesus really asked.

    It is dangerous saying “yes” to fully and completely loving Christ. Such agape means giving yourself over entirely, sacrificing yourself and your wants and your desires. That’s a big responsibility.

    Far easier to say yes to a lesser love, something less demanding.

    Thankfully, Jesus will take what He can get, and will come down to our level, accepting the poor measly kind of love that we think is all that we can give, but then giving us the ability to build up that love to the real thing.

  9. Tapestry says:

    #9 Do you believe I can do this?
    so many do not…
    Miracles happen to those that believe.

    • Neil says:

      Are you implying belief is necessary for miracles to occur? Are you ready to defend a god that works like Santa Claus?

      • Richard Stadter says:

        Without faith, a miracle won’t be truly beneficial or appreciated. God feeds us all through many means. Most care about the full belly, not the hand that provided it.

  10. Mary says:

    Thank you Msgr. this is beautiful to reflect on during Lent. In fact, I teach confirmation and plan on bringing it in to make it part of my lesson in the morning.

  11. Jan says:

    The scriptures are our own story. We are in it. To read scripture as a mere spectator looking on is to miss the keynote. Scripture is our story.

    At my parish we recently concluded a study of Mary Healy’s Theology of The Body, and we are now in our 5th week of Jeff Cavins’ Great Adventure Timeline of The Bible.

    One of the things our pastor (and Cavins) emphasizes each week is that, especially with respect to children, we need to give them a story to be in. If we don’t give our kids the stories of the Bible and of God and Jesus, then they will end up in a different story – drugs, sex, whatever that story may be.

    Just thought I’d throw that in the discussion here.

  12. Mark Joseph says:

    For # 10, I would go see my Mom, and the wildflowers should be glorious this Easter time as they had some good rains this winter.

  13. TeaPot562 says:

    Definitely worth pondering. Asking and listening to the answers to Q. 21 tells you whether Jesus is alive for the answerer or merely a historical figure. Some mis-spellings exist in the list as shown on this blog. The list is worthwhile anyway; thank you.
    TeaPot562

  14. Gabriel Cahill says:

    These 100 Questions that are above are to help each and everyone of us to ponder and reflect in relation to our own lives. Our short comings and our sinfulness and our doubts and despondencies. Every time we read the bible we should absorb and ponder what we read as The Holy Spirit is speaking to us personally. Even Mary, the Mother of God who is full of grace, pondered and reflected and stored up the things in her heart that Jesus said to her and Joseph as he was growing up.

  15. John says:

    Great tool for reflection. One question I expected to see, but did not was from Matt. 10:18

    Why callest thou me good?

  16. Marcos Nobre says:

    It’is amazing to see all these questions put together. It invites to reflexion, specially in easter time.

  17. Steven Galindo says:

    These are wonderful! Thank you so much. I am a pastor of a non-denominational Christian church with charismatic leanings, and plan on using these to provoke some thought. Thank you, Father for your work here. Is this the updated PDF file you mentioned earlier?

  18. Dan Kowalczyk says:

    Thank you for this list. I came to this site after a question I had about Christ’s interactions with his disciples. He at times seems astonished that the obvious isn’t so obvious to his disciples and in his responses to their actions. His questions point to his divine knowledge and truth. I often imagine God is shaking his head and saying whats wrong with these children.

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