Wise Witnesses # 5: Question The Questioner
Back to Matthew 22, after confronting the Pharisees' malice, Jesus then goes on to give an order (this further takes control of the situation), followed by another question (He continues to switch the field of battle to a ground of his choosing):
22.19ff: Jesus said, “Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar's.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.
Whole books could be written about the shrewdness and subtlety of Jesus here. He gives them a true -- but not simple sound-bitey -- answer. And notice, he answers their question with yet another question, “Whose likeness and inscription…?” Malicious individuals will often pose questions hoping for a sound bite they can quote to make us look bad; they want us to hand deliver a straw man for them to eviscerate. Basically, they don’t want to hear our answer; they want us to state a simple answer so they can proceed with their attack; they want us to be on the defensive so our position is more easily blasted. Jesus isn’t havin' it; he will not go out like that. He takes charge by telling them to show him a coin. Then, he turns the tables on them with a question, “Whose likeness…?” He puts them on the defensive. "I'll play," Jesus is saying, "but I'm gonna cut the cards."
Answering a question with a question is the best way to ‘turn the tables’ in a verbal war. It puts us on the offensive. In effect, replying to a question with a question says, “Who do you think you are? I’ll do the question asking here, thank you very much. I’m in charge of this situation.”
Jesus is like a verbal samurai; he’s smart, quick, agile, always a step ahead of his attacker. He’s showing us the way to engage in verbal war, and take ground for truth and righteousness.