Unanswered questions

John 18:33-38 (NIV)

33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”

36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.



Easter was just two weeks ago, WHY are we reading John’s gospel about Jesus and Pilate?

Maybe because the topic of our discussion today is not about the coming crucifixion>>>

So, what is the topic?

HINT – I have already given you two hints —

The hints?

  1. Why are we reading John’s gospel about Jesus and Pilate?
  2.  So, what is the topic?

OK – the topic is QUESTIONS –

In the John Scripture there are SIX questions in SIX verses.

AND each question is deeper.;.

  • It turns out that Jesus asks lots of questions, but he doesn’t answer many. 
  • According to one source, [ii] Jesus asked 307 different questions in the gospels. 
  • And Jesus was asked 183 questions.  
  • But Jesus only directly answered 3.

Living the Questions: Answers Just Get in the Way

By calling ourselves progressive, we mean that we are Christians who find more grace in the search for meaning than in absolute certainty, in the questions than in the answers.


Recently, I saw a picture of a chimp hand on chin, seeming to have deep thoughts.  The picture’s caption read,


Not because you know everything without question,

but rather because you question everything you think you                         know.” [iii]

       Things We May Not Know….

  1.  What is Baked Scrod?

An acronym for “Select Catch Received on the Day” – it can be Cod, Pollack, Haddock – It was the LAST catch of the day and on top of the pile and the freshest.

  •  Why do some coins have ridges on the edges and some are smooth?

Originally coins made from precious metals had smooth edges. This made it possible for unscrupulous people to shave off some of the metals and then melt down the shavings to sell. Coins that have ridges contain precious metals; those that are smooth are usually copper and nickel.

3. Why is there a piece of fabric, often with an extra button attached, inside our new clothes?

The extra material and button that comes with your new clothes has long been thought of as additional cloth to patch up holes, and provide a spare button. In reality, the extra material is actually used to test out how different laundry detergents would react to your clothes!

  • Why do tailored shirts have a little fabric loop on the back, on level with the shoulder blades?

The little loop that is on the back         of most of your shirts is there for           a couple of reasons. Firstly, and             probably the most obvious, is to          hang your shirt on a hanger. In           the past, men would also cut this            loop off of the back of their shirts               if they began dating a girl to                   signal that they were in a                       relationship.


Two year – three year old toddlers begin asking why. With every statement, they respond why.

 No matter how many times we offer answers, they come back with why.

At the time it can make us want to pull our hair out… but, each WHY peels back  layer –

WHY – another layer

WHY – another layer

Scientific research works something like a three year old…

With each experiment – we ask WHY

Until we find a solution…


Is it good or bad to ask questions?

What do we hope to gain from asking questions?

  • We hunger for absolutes.  
  • Inquiring Minds Want to Know….

We search for the ultimate explanation to our questions….

       Answers bring resolution –answers relieve tension and bring comfort.

Even wrong answers bring temporary relief…


QUESTION –what is the first thing one does after a crisis/disaster/accident?

Rationalize WHY it happened… as if having the answer will lessen the pain

An answer supposedly provides resolution and relief—

       Even if the answer is wrong

OFTEN the go-to phrase is “IT WAS GOD’S WILL “so we avoid remaining in the question of WHY something happened.

And this answer always results in a weak resolution… AND causes MORE questions.

So, Are questions BAD?

       Is asking questions bad?

              Is it  bad to doubt?

Are Questions the problem…

      Or are Bad and incomplete answers are the problem??

What about UNANSWERED questions?


Unanswered questions can be uncomfortable things to hang onto.

They beg for answers, and in living with the unknown we are asked to bear an aching tension

Can we endure unanswered questions?

       -Is the world flat?

-Are we the center of the universe?

-How can we use lightning to our advantage?     

–How deep is the ocean?

Unanswered questions =    action/momentum

Answers =        stop/end



Most of us – probably all of us – live with questions. 

 DAY TO DAY – what is bank balance?

                     Will I get to the market?

       When am I going to wash the car?


We all have THEOLOGICAL questions –

      Although many won’t voice them                   for fear of being judged as Doubters, blasphemous

Poor Thomas   Doubting Thomas – Questioning Thomas

Wanted to know for himself Wasn’t going to accept what was told to him

And because of his questioning – he was labeled as an unbeliever – or less than the rest of the disciples.

But in a school setting  – questions are welcome  and expected…

Questions are necessary for leaning/..

Teachers do not view questions as a threat to their integrity or quality of teaching.

Questions mean someone is listening, trying and wanting to know more…

To go deeper…YET

Growing up and still in some churches today:

Questions considered unfaithful

have used questions against us –

questions mean we are not accepting  God’s word/Bible

Taught Bible was without ERROR –

      Taken at face value without understanding the context of time     and people of the time.     

Taught to never question the BIBLE.       _____________

Interesting that as ‘students’ in Sunday School – certain questions were taboo – Questions that the teacher could not answer —  — WE WERE TOLD TO take it on  FAITH. _____________________________

It was the default ANSWER – Take it on FAITH….

In regards to faith,    how much DO we know for   certain…

we use  FAITH to explain away something that no   longer makes sense – nor can be explained?

Faith was always the answer given to head off uncomfortable questions.

But it was often an unsatisfactory and hollow answer that only                                   instigated more questions.

We are told — WE MUST HAVE FAITH – but we need more information… in which to have faith…

When the idea of faith is used in this way, Christianity becomes more and more about accepting things that are less and less acceptable, And of believing things that are more and more unbelievable.  And this hurts Christianity.


Questions are important— and may even more important                                        than answers.  

Questions open possibilities     Answers close them…

Living the Questions: Answers Just Get in the Way

By calling ourselves progressive, we mean that we are Christians who find more grace in the search for meaning than in absolute certainty, in the questions than in the answers.

North Side Christian Church – IS A SAFE place to ask questions…to doubt… to wonder -It is a place where we can doubt and explore

Catholic author Richard Rohr writes,  “Jesus is not a giver of advice.  He doesn’t give us a neat list of ten ways to be closer to God. 

 He does not provide easy answers.  Instead he asks hard questions. 

 In that he is more like the Zen master who asks questions to take us beyond the obvious to something deeper.

           “Easy answers can give us a sense of finality.  By entertaining hard questions God has a chance to change us.”