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On the road to Emmaus | Being curious

He asked them, ‘What are you discussing together as you walk along?’

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, ‘Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?’

‘What things?’ he asked.

LUKE 24:17–19

 


 

I have a friend who works as a journalist for a major news organisation. He asks the best questions of anyone I know. But I didn’t understand why until I started to see how Jesus used questions.

So, why does the Son of God – who literally knows people’s thoughts (Luke 5:22) – use questions?

After walking along with the Emmaus travellers for a while, Jesus simply asks them what they’re discussing. He doesn’t impose his agenda – he simply asks permission to join in the conversation they’re already having.

The travellers respond – exasperatedly – wondering if he is the only one who doesn’t know about everything that’s happened over the past days. Of course, Jesus knows better than anyone. And he still asks if they would tell him a little more.

Jesus isn’t on a fact-finding mission. He seems to be asking because he wants to hear how these travellers will narrate their own experience. He gives them the space to process their hurt, confusion, and longings in their own choice of words.

And this is what I experience when my journalist friend asks me a question.

His questions open me up, but not because he’s especially incisive or articulate, nor because he uses the right inflection – though he is and does. Instead, it’s because when he asks me a question, I don’t feel like I’m being interrogated. I feel as if someone is genuinely curious about how I might narrate my own experience. He is genuinely curious about me.

We can practise that kind of curiosity with our colleagues, customers, and congregants. When they share how their weekends were, that they saw a great film last night, or how busy they are, we might ask what meant most to them, what they made of the characters, or what stops them from slowing down.

The author Andy Crouch puts it like this:

‘Brew coffee or tea, sit with a friend and ask them questions – questions just one step riskier than the last time you talked. As you listen, observe the flickers of sadness or hope that cross their face. Try to imagine what it must be like to live their story, suffer their losses, dream their dreams.’ (Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk, and True Flourishing, p. 91)

This isn’t about using questions to manipulate a conversation and get it somewhere we want it to go. This is a Jesus-inspired curiosity that transforms not just our conversations, but our relationships – one question at a time.

Tim Yearsley
Head of Innovation, LICC

What question you can ask someone on your frontline that’s a little riskier than what you’ve asked before? Join the conversation below.

Comments

  1. I’m so inspired by this devotional because it shows that when we’re present with our friends or work-mates, it allows their guard to drop a little more. This is a confirming word because just last week, I had an impromptu lunch date with a work-mate, and just through the course of talking and having lunch, and going through photos and the such – she started to open up with personal struggles, and I let her share, and I asked questions along the way which helped her to open more. It was such a precious moment because I was not judging her, or making her feel “less than” but allowing her to bear her heart. And now there’s more trust between myself and her, which I know Jesus created, bringing her just one more step closer to Him than the week before. Thank you for writing this. I live in Rockwall, TX USA, and I’m blessed by this ministry! Thank you for all you do for the Christians working in the corporate world!

    By Renate R.  -  24 Jul 2023
  2. This look at Jesus, on the walk to Emmaus, is a very timely input to me and one of my small study groups, as we have just recently be challenged, from the study of Malachi, about how to speak about Jesus with neighbours who are expressing an interest in our activities/life, or who are close relatives with particular issues at the moment, and so we have questions on how to do this well.

    I will be using this with them. Thank you again for the resources LICC provide by its current outlets.

    By Dianne Allen  -  24 Jul 2023

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