Jesus was the master of asking questions that cut straight to the heart of a person. Sometimes we apologists can forget that human beings are more than intellectual machines.
That’s why it’s important to ask tactful questions that go beyond the surface of intellectual arguments. Three of Jesus’ questions in particular can be easily adapted to use in apologetic and evangelistic conversations.
“What are you seeking?” (John 1:38)
What are you wanting to get out of this conversation?
You can’t always assume that the person who comes to you with questions is doing so out of pure motives! That’s why it’s good to discern why a person is wanting to speak with you or listen to what you have to say.
This question causes people to stop and think about what they want to get out of the discussion. Are they seeking a fruitful dialogue or a fight to prove you wrong? Are they seeking to embarrass you or genuinely listen to what you have to say? Here are some responses from them that would be ideal:
- I want to hear what you have to say and share what I believe.
- I want to learn more about Christianity.
- I want to know the truth about such important issues.
Now of course, many people might say these things and not mean it. But the sooner we can get people to think through their motives, the sooner we can know how to continue the conversation.
“Why do you not believe me?” (John 8:46)
How believable do you find the claims that Jesus made about Himself?
This question zeroes in on the person of Jesus and what He said. Jesus made some serious claims about Himself in the Gospels, and there are a variety of reasons why people don’t believe what He said. The first step is to present some of Jesus’ claims and get their responses to them. Here are a few:
“I and the Father are one…whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 10:30; 14:9).
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
“No one knows the son except the father, and no one knows the father except the son and anyone to whom the son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27).
“So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33).
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18).
“…the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (Mark 2:9).
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26).
Presenting these claims not only brings Jesus into the conversation, but it also provides a better opportunity to present the Gospel.
“Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15)
Who was Jesus of Nazareth?
To me this is the most important question that Jesus ever asked someone. What do you do with Jesus? Who do you think He is?
As with the second question, it’s best here to give options of what Jesus could have been. Was Jesus:
- A good moral teacher?
- Sincere but delusional?
- Purposefully evil and misleading?
- A completely fictional character?
- A real person who was embellished over time?
- Who He claimed to be?
Once they choose one, ask them why they believe that about Jesus.
Lastly, you can explain why you believe that Jesus was God in the flesh and continue the conversation from there.
May we follow in the footsteps of Jesus and ask tactful questions!