“One day, as he was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up and said to him, ‘Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.’ He answered them, ‘I also will ask you a question; now tell me, Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?’ And they discussed it with one another, saying, ‘If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us; for they are convinced that John was a prophet.’ So they answered that they did not know whence it was. And Jesus said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.’” (Lk 20: 1-8)
Some teachers like to say, There is no such thing as a bad question, undeserving of a response. But there is, as we can see above. The question of the chief priests, scribes and elders to Christ is a “bad” one, because they do not believe or trust the One they are asking; they rather believe themselves already to have all the answers. So, instead of offering them a response, our Lord presents them with another question. And this question compels them, reluctantly and disingenuously, to say publicly what those who “know it all” hate to say: We do not know. Thus our Lord skillfully nudges them to humble themselves, albeit reluctantly and disingenuously, leaving them with their own “We do not know” as food for thought.
When it comes to my own unanswered questions to God, I’m reminded today that it’s better to walk around with a humbled “I do not know,” rather than with my own, ultimately dissatisfying, suspicions of God’s benevolent authority. God does reveal more to me, as life goes on, when I am willing to listen, in His Spirit, “Who blows where He wishes” (Jn 3: 8). Sometimes, as Bob Dylan reminds me, “The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind; the answer is blowing in the wind.” And that’s OK with me today, Lord. Glory be to You.