Many times when Jesus was asked a question He didn’t answer it directly. It wasn’t that He was trying to twist the truth or skirt around some thorny issue that He knew would cause problems with His audience. Instead Jesus wanted His audience to really think about what was taking place. A quick answer may have allowed Jesus to move on to more pressing concerns but it wouldn’t have caused the questioner to think more deeply about his or her faith either.
In Luke 10, Jesus is asked what a person must do to inherit eternal life. The easy answer was to follow Him and obey God’s commands. Instead, Jesus responds in verse 26, “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” Jesus response was two sided. He is getting the man to think about what he believes and Jesus is also gauging the spiritual level of the man.
In this passage, the man answers correctly and then asks a follow up question on who is his neighbor. Jesus responds with the parable of the Good Samaritan. Later on in Luke 18 Jesus is asked the same basic question on how to inherit eternal life. Jesus response this time is “Why do you call me good? Only God is good.” Jesus then responds with a list of commands that the man should already know to which the man replies that he has kept them all since his birth.
Jesus makes a connection to the man in Luke 10 as a dialogue is started with follow up questions. The man in Luke 18 leaves unsatisfied however because he is unwilling to truly think about what Jesus is talking about and just wanted assurance of his salvation which he doesn’t really even consider when he wrongly answers that he’s been sinless since birth.
We when are asked questions while evangelizing, we should keep Jesus’ method in mind. The technique may not work all of the time as sometimes a person just has a simple question. Often though, we can respond with a question such as “What do you believe?” or “Why do you ask?” Not only will it cause that person to think more about the question, it will give you a better understanding of how to answer it. It’s entirely possible that the person just has a simple question and we’re getting ready for a full theological discussion. Asking follow up questions allows us to get to the heart of the matter without unnecessarily confusing a person.