I am thrilled and honored to write a piece for the new book, What Did Jesus Ask? Christian Leaders Reflect on His Questions of Faith (TIME) edited by Elizabeth Dias.
This is such a wonderful collection of 65 different writers from around the world who tackle the questions that Jesus asked. I am honored to be in this collection.
In What Did Jesus Ask?, 65 of today’s leading spiritual writers, thinkers, and artists offer modern meditations on the questions that Jesus posed in the Bible to teach his followers how to think like a Christian and consider their personal faith.
As a teacher, Jesus Christ put many of his lessons in the form of questions. The gospels record more than 300 of them. Some are rhetorical, needing no answer, but most were real questions posed to real people. Many of Jesus’ questions are familiar to readers today, yet the context and the potential interpretations of such phrases will offer enlightenment to many. Organized by Biblical verse, these 65 enigmatic questions include:
“You of little faith, why did you doubt?” – Matthew 14:31
“Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?” – Mark 8:18
And now, What Did Jesus Ask? poses those questions to many of today’s prominent religious figures, scholars and thought leaders to contemplate and interpret. Contributors include bestselling singer/songwriters Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, Christian leaders Barbara Taylor and Cardinal Wuerl of Washington, and bestselling authors James Martin and Sarah Young, and many more. Including a foreword by Nancy Gibbs, bestselling author and managing editor of TIME magazine, What Did Jesus Ask? is a thought-provoking volume for both readers interested in religious thought and understanding the teachings of Jesus better.
Below is the beginning of my piece entitled, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?”. To read the rest of my piece, please purchase the book.
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?”
Praying is difficult.
I will never forget receiving a frantic call from my sister from Canada; a call I never imagined I would receive in my lifetime. My sister said our mom had gone to the doctor with some health issues and they had found that she had stage four lung cancer.
Cancer is more dreaded the younger the patient.
My mother was only sixty-three and healthy. It was always my dad who had health issues. My mom was the healthiest one in our family. She took care of my dad, my sister and me when we were ill. She always ate a healthy diet, exercised, and never smoked. My mom even ate all the cancer-fighting foods like raw broccoli, soy beans, green tea, garlic, and leafy vegetables.
Despite all that, she developed stage four lung cancer. And the doctors said that at stage four, there isn’t much left to do to help cancer patients. Our family plummeted into the depths of despair and sorrow.
As Christians, our family prayed for healing. But during months of prayer, her health grew worse. She had a stroke that left her mute and largely immobile.
We prayed and we felt that God did not hear our prayers. In similar situations, many Christians have prayed fervently and watched as loved ones died. And yet Christians continue to pray. Why do we pray when it appears that God is not answering?
“Contributors chose which of Jesus’ questions they wanted to consider, and everyone had the same instructions: to reflect on the question itself, not on an answer to it, and to envision the question in a modern way. Beyond that, we left the authors to their own imaginations, and the results are as diverse as the traditions from which the authors come. Cardinal George Pell, who is overhauling the Vatican’s financial system, draws on the words of Pope John Paul II. Gene Luen Yang, a graphic artist writing Superman for DC Comics, designs a comic strip exploring Jesus’ facial expressions. Walter Brueggemann, an Old Testament scholar, writes a poem. Theologian Grace Ji-Sun Kim reflects on her mother’s battle with cancer.”
— Elizabeth Dias is a correspondent for TIME who covers religion and politics. She has a master’s in divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and lectures at universities across the U.S.