“So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” Luke 10:36

Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?”  Matthew 21:40

I have been an instructor with adult students for over 30 years.  Classical platform (lecture) instruction has always gone something like; tell them you’re going to tell them, tell them and then tell them that you told them.  Then ask are there any questions.  More up to date instruction theory finds limited effectiveness with that form of instruction.  Especially the asking for the students to come up with the questions at the end.  The thought is that if no one has a question then everyone must understand the material.   You’ve been there; the instructor is coming to the end of his/her lecture, finally stands there and in a very authoritarian voice asks: “Are there any questions?”  And the room is so quiet that if you were outside you could hear the crickets chirping.  Why doesn’t anyone ask a question?  Normally for two reasons, one of which is not that everyone understands.  The two reasons they don’t ask questions is, one, they are in a hurry to get the heck out of there or two, they do not wish to appear ignorant in front of the other students.  So the walk away with questions and the instructor is thinking: “Great they got the materia!” (though actually the instructor knows they didn’t but just shrugs and says oh well I gave them their chance).

Yet a wise instructor tries not to leave it to chance.  If he/she doesn’t get any questions, they will ask a question back to the students to gauge their understanding.  And that is exactly what Jesus does.  In the start of both of the instances quoted, Jesus is asked a question.  In one case: “Who is my neighbor”, and in the other case: “By what authority are you doing these things?”  So Jesus, as was His way, teaches them a lesson with a parable.  In the first instance, it was the parable of the good Samaritan.  Yet Jesus does not leave it to chance that the person asking the question and the people around get that the, in their culture, hated filthy horrible Samaritan was the one who was actually acting like the neighbor.  When Jesus asks the question about which of the three………, the person answers:  “He who showed mercy”.  In that way, the person shows that he understood the story and its lesson.  So Jesus can then take that understanding and apply His last admonition: “Then go and do likewise.”  The person who answered correctly can not really turn around and say I don’t understand what you mean.  It is the same in the second case.  A just owner of a vineyard is cheated by his renters and finally has His Son killed by them.  So when Jesus asks:  “Therefore, when the owner……….., they answer “He will destroy those wicked men miserably……”  When Jesus then quotes Psalm 118, they realize that they are the evil renters.

So what are we to take from this in our own lives.  For one, to think how wonderful it is that the Son of God, who is perfectly wise, has the patience to ask questions to check the understanding of His listeners.  You might wonder why He really cares if they (or we) get it or not.  Chances are if we don’t get it, it is because we weren’t really listening in the first place or we think we are in a place to be able to argue back with our limited intelligence.  But Jesus loves us.  He knows that the more we have a since of understanding, we are so much more likely to follow Him.  And our following allows Him to lead us to His(Our) Father in Heaven.  Second thing to consider, is once a person shows by their answer that they do understand, then the next step is to use that understanding to execute what has been learned.  In the cases above, don’t reject Jesus or do not judge people simply by their nationality, race or some other arbitrary label.

Jesus Christ gives us an example of wisdom, patience and love.  As we are working with others let us strive to do the same.  Let us strive to insure people have an understanding of what we are trying to get across.  If their answer shows they don’t understand, let us be patient in trying to bring them to that understanding.  And once they do understand, then we can lead them to new behavior which will be beneficial for them.  In that way, we can be more like Jesus Christ and live in a way that praises His Holy Name.

Amen

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