When Questions Are Traps

How do I respond when someone asks me a question that seems like a trap? People tried to trap Jesus with questions, not because they wanted to know the truth, but because they wanted to accuse Him. He used wisdom in His responses to them.

(Mark 12:13-17 The Pharisees try to catch him with his words and ask him if it’s lawful to pay taxes.   Jesus asks them whose face is on the coin.  When they tell Him that it’s Caesar, He says to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. In this passage, He does not give them a lengthy explanation. He is short and to the point.

Another time, when Jesus is preaching, Mary Magdalen is brought before him and accused of adultery. Jesus does not pick up stones. Since adultery takes two people, and only one person was presented, the man must be somewhere. (Deut. 22:22 If a man be found lying with a woman married to a husband, then they shall both of them die…”) Perhaps the man was one of the accusers. The Pharisees didn’t present the man caught in the act with her. Jesus bent down and wrote something on the ground. Possibly He wrote, Deut. 22:22 convicting the man also. When He stood up, He simply said, “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.” None of them could cast a stone. Perhaps they had each been with her the night before. They dropped their stones and walked away. Jesus’ words shut them down.

The Pharisees weren’t looking for a Savior. They did not like losing control of the people. Jesus stole the spotlight and many of the Jews were following Him. In Matthew 12:22-28, Jesus drives out a demon from a person. The Pharisees are so jealous of His power that they say that He uses power from Beelzebub, the prince of devils to do miracles. Jesus quickly lets them know that if the devil could cast out the devil, then he would be divided against himself. He makes His point quickly so that it renders them speechless.

How does Jesus know so quickly how to respond? He is God’s son and He not only knows the truth, He was the walking, living, breathing word of God to us on this earth. When we are saved, we are given the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. (Romans 8:11) We have the same ability to have the wisdom of Jesus. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives it to all men liberally, without finding fault and it shall be given to you.”

When someone asks me if something is a sin, how should I respond so that I don’t come across as judgmental? I question their intent. Are they asking me so they can condemn me with my own words, or do they really want to know? I know that judging someone and stating what sin is, are two different things. I also know that they will never be quiet long enough to hear my explanation.

Proverbs 15:1 states, “A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”  I would respond with a simple statement. “If you truly want to know God, I would suggest that you start with 1 John, because it describes God’s love and forgiveness for us through His son, Jesus Christ. If you want to know what sin is, then read the book of Romans. Paul is pretty blunt about sin, but Jesus said He did not come to condemn you but to save you.”


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I am broken, but not forsaken.

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