TEXT:  Matthew 20:20-28                                                                           Series A
THEME:  The world constantly asks stupid questions of God, but           Fourth Sunday in Lent
  God answers them all in His Son.                                                  Our Savior Lutheran Church
TITLE:  “Stupid Questions, Godly Answers”                                             Pagosa Springs, Colorado
                                                                       March 10, 2002



(Are you like me in that you get really tired of people asking stupid questions about God?  Questions like:  “Can God create a rock so big and so heavy that He can’t lift it?”  Or how about this one, “Why does God let evil happen in the world when He is so powerful He could stop it all?”  As if God were responsible for the evil acts of men or the state of our fallen creation!  In our Gospel lesson today the mother of James and John ask Jesus a stupid thing:  “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”  It is a stupid request because of the motivation behind it and the ignorance with which it is asked.  Such requests and questions are nothing new.  Many today make impossible demands on God and then blame Him for not doing what they want done.



    1. We ask because we want God to elevate us over others.

      1. The mother of James and John wanted her sons to have the places of honor in God’s kingdom.

        1. Perhaps she figured that it was a first-come, first-served proposition.

        2. Perhaps she was the original “stage mother”.

      2. ILLUS:  White Supremacy groups make twisted use of God’s Word to build a case that their race is superior to all others.

        1. In this process of rationalization, they ask God why there are so many races and then provide their own unscriptural answers, attributing them to God.

        2. The fruit of such motivation is seen in the trial of John King who was dragged to death in Jasper, Texas a few years ago.

      3. The Pharisees and Scribes constantly asked stupid questions of Jesus to let everyone know how very spiritual they were.

        1. “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

        2. “Isn’t it by Beelzebub that he drives out demons?”

        3. “Can we see a miraculous sign?”  (As if He hadn’t provided it!)

        4. “Why don’t your disciples wash their hands before they eat?”

        5. “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

        6. “By what authority are you doing these things?”

        7. “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

    2. We ask stupid questions of God to justify our own ungodly behavior.

      1. Chaffing against the restrictions of God’s expressed will, we ask Him why His Word is so restrictive.

        1. We ask questions that permit us to provide our own answers:

          1. God said, “You shall not kill”, but we answer that it’s a matter of personal privacy.

          2. God said, “You shall not commit adultery”, but we answer that God is out of step with modern views.

          3. God says, “You shall have no other God’s before me.” But we reply that God should be more tolerant of others religious views.

        2. The irony is, that God’s will is for our protection, not to restrict our pleasure.

      2. Isn’t it interesting our illogical our questioning of God’s commands seem when compared together?

    3. We ask stupid questions of God so that we can look intellectual in our own eyes.

      1. ILLUS:  The “Jesus Seminar” wants to decide what Jesus really said and what He didn’t say, as if they were qualified to decide.

      2. St. Paul speaks of the egos of so-called intellectuals.  (II Tim. 4:3-5)

        1. Sadly, many prefer to believe the academic credentials of such “scholars” over the revealed will of God in the Bible and are led away from Christ.

        2. It would be well to remember Christ’s warning of such men.  (Lk. 17:1-3)

    4. We ask stupid questions of God so we can blame Him for our troubles.

      1. God is frequently blamed for every accident, every disease, every evil action of men and every “natural” disaster.

        1. We have made God the scapegoat for every trouble that comes our way.

        2. Either we blame Him for having made it happen, or we blame Him for not having stopped whatever it was from happening.

      2. We forget that God is not responsible for this world’s fall into sin nor the results that fall has wrought.

        1. God is not responsible for our stupid, sinful actions nor the consequences they bring upon ourselves.

        2. God is not responsible for the disaster that the fall into sin made of this natural world that is not at all in accord with His original design.


    1. In response to our request for personal elevation, Jesus shows us what it means to be a servant.

      1. He who had every right to elevate Himself, took the form of a servant.

        1. Phil. 2:5-8

        2. Jesus came to give Himself away for us.

      2. He understood that the limitless authority He held was for the express purpose of serving us.

        1. We who are His servants have the privilege of giving ourselves away for the cause of His Kingdom.

        2. Therefore, let us elevate Him and use whatever authority, whatever talent, whatever skills and gifts we have received from Him to serve Him.

      3. As a servant, He lays down His life, forgives our sins, grants eternal life so that we might be His servants now and forever!

        1. This precious free gift of life is only a result of His servanthood for us.

        2. His name alone is to be elevated above every name including ourselves!

    2. In response to our request to behave as we please, Jesus graciously leads us to please Him.

      1. Through Word and Sacrament God changes our hearts to glorify Him in all we do

        1. Because we are energized by His love, we seek to please Him because it is our hearts desire to do so.

        2. This too is a precious gift…a new heart led by His Spirit of grace.\

      2. Eat and drink deeply of the well of living water that flows from His word and is shared at this altar!

    3. In response to our request to be intellectual, God says that to know Him is the foundation of all knowledge.

      1. What other source of knowledge is there except God?

        1. Apart from Him any other knowledge is of no value whatever!

        2. Proverbs 9:10

      2. Let all knowledge be focused on Christ alone!

    4. In response to our insistence that God is to be blamed for all evil, God says He is the author of all blessing.

      1. We have it exactly dead wrong:  All that is good comes from God.

        1. If we have experienced joy, blessing, excellence in our lives, He alone is the author.

        2. If we know any happiness, fulfillment, satisfaction, or contentment, it is from His hand.

      2. All that is evil comes from the unholy “trinity”:  The devil, the world and our own flesh.

        1. Let us not blame God for the work of sinful men.

        2. Let us not blame God who has given Himself on a cross for the fallenness of the world in which we live.

CONCLUSION:  God is patient with us and our stupid questions.  For these sins too, He has paid the price.  Let us hear the gracious reply of our loving God to our sin, and move toward service in His holy name and by His power.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.



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