I remember doing some pretty stupid things as a kid. I stole some ball-bearings from a neighbors garage to use as ammunition for my sling shot! I was to find out they were precision bearings used for sophisticated machinery and were very expensive. My dad asked me “what in the world were you thinking?” I was caught cheating on a midterm exam while taking a makeup summer school course in bookkeeping at Tech High School back in 1961. My dad asked, “why would you do such a thing?” My answer for both of these questions was “I dunno.” I’ve heard my kids answer similar questions that I’ve asked them about “why” they did or did not do what they were supposed to and the answer was, “I dunno.”   But the question is not really a question seeking an answer, is it? It’s a condemnation of said behavior and when you hear that question you don’t think about the answer.  You understand the question to be a rebuke to drive home the “errors” of my ways to inspire me to try harder.

After teaching about loving enemies and doing good to those that wrong you and the folly of judging others and other difficult instructions, Jesus asked his followers a question.  In Luke 6:46, He said, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do what I tell you to do?” Almost every commentator I read on this verse suggests in one way or another that this is a question of condemnation. It’s not a true question calling for reflection and self-examination.  I think they are all wrong! I think Jesus was pointing out a truth about ourselves that would shake us to our very foundation.  Why don’t we obey Jesus’ commands? It’s really very simple! We can’t! We might want to and long to but the truth of our very make-up makes it impossible for us to do so. This is what the Bible means by true “repentance.”

The commentators suggest that Jesus is asking this question to guilt us into becoming better people. I think that’s what my father’s questions to me and my questions to my kids were. But I do not see Jesus doing that. I see him lovingly prodding us in our thinking to come to understand a state of affairs in this life that He had to manage for us on the Cross of Calvary. As long as we keep reading the Bible as instructions for becoming better people, we’ll never understand God’s loving interaction with us through His Son that can save us from ourselves.