by Patrick Henry Reardon
Among the features that make up the “teaching style” of our Savior, one of the more notable is his refusal to let his hearers and interlocutors define the terms of discussion. It is one of the ways in which he makes it clear that the gospel is more than simply an answer to a human question. The Good News eludes all attempts to restrict it to a human concern. Jesus sees to this.
For example, when a speculative point is raised, Jesus occasionally turns the inquiry into an exhortation. We observe, for instance, his response to the query, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of God?” Instead of a straightforward reply, he admonishes the disciples to become as little children (Matt. 18:2–4). There is a second level of irony in this answer—namely, little children do not ask such questions. The query, that is to say, was prompted by the non-childlike ambitions of those who posed it (cf. Luke 9:46).
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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).
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