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Unexpected Answers
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When people in the Bible asked Jesus questions he often gave answers they did not expect. They were usually looking at only two options—asking “Is it this way or that way?” And Jesus responded, “Neither.”

For example, the Samaritan woman with whom Jesus talked at Jacob’s well asked if they should worship on a nearby mountain or in Jerusalem (John 4:20). Jesus basically told her that neither place was important, that how a person worships is more important than where.

One time Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2). Again Jesus replied, “Neither.” Some situations, he explained, are allowed simply to bring honor to God’s name.

When the accusers of the woman caught in adultery cast her at Jesus’ feet they said, “Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” (John 8:5). The Pharisees saw only two options—stone her or ignore her sin. But Jesus knew the sins of the accusers as well as the woman’s. And he wanted to forgive them all.

Stooping down, Jesus wrote his answer in the dust. As the woman’s accusers dropped their stones and slunk away, Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.”

The Real Issue

Intending to trap him in his words, Jesus’ enemies asked some very sticky questions. One of them was “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”(Matthew 22:17). Either a yes or a no answer equaled a loss for Jesus! But Jesus won with an answer that was far better: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Jesus refused to allow his focus to be taken away from God. Neither paying or withholding taxes was the real issue. Honoring God was.

In every situation Jesus brought the conversation back to God—worshipping God, honoring God, serving God. Those trying to ensnare Jesus were defeated. And eventually no one dared to ask him any more questions.

We may sometimes find ourselves asking, “Is this the proper way of doing things or is that way better?” And Jesus answer may be, “Neither way is even close. My thoughts and ways are as much higher than yours as the heavens are higher than the earth.”

“Should I do this thing or that?” we wonder. And Jesus might reply, “Neither. I have something bigger and better planned for your life.” We may question, “Did this bad thing happen to me because I messed up or was it someone else’s fault?” Jesus response could be, “Neither. It’s not about what’s happening to you. It’s all about God and what will bring glory to God.”

I’m not for a moment suggesting that it’s pointless to ask God questions because we cannot understand God’s ways. On the contrary, when our hearts and minds are open to the Spirit, it is an amazing experience to receive God’s unexpected answers.

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By Brenda Dickerson. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ® an
d THE NEW LIVING TRANSLATION © copyright 1996.

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