Questions we Should Not Ask

“The only dumb question is the one not asked,” a teacher once said to our class.  I was an impressionable teen, and quite taken to this simple, clean and powerful adage.  It changed the way I thought — until the found exceptions.  It is still a truism in a classroom context.  But it is not so true in life.

“Honey, am I the most beautiful woman to you?” a woman may ask in need of affirmation from her husband.  But it is a question fraught with danger.  Once, I was preaching, and I mentioned that many couples asked, “What if I had married someone else? What if I get to start my life over, will I still marry the same man or woman?” Several people immediately turned to their spouses with questions like, “Have you ever thought about that? Is that true for you?”

Such a question has only one “right” answer, and it may be a lie. We sometimes ask questions that compel people to lie.  If you have a missing cake that you think your house mates in college might have taken, you can go around fuming, “Who stole my cake? Did you steal my cake?” You know everyone will say “No” and one person will be lying. On the other hand, if you asked, “Did anyone take my cake by mistake?” You stand a much better chance of getting a confession.

I recall another time when I mentioned that some guys will keep a little something with them in their wallet just in case they get lucky with a girl.  I immediately saw a mother turn to her teenage son and ask, “Do you have one in your wallet?” Do we expect the son to say “Yes mom, actually, I have two”?

I like to suggest we have a responsibility as Christians to ask questions in such a way as to promote truthfulness.  We should not corner people to shame in confession.  It makes that confession much harder.  This forcing of a confession in the context of shame is the practice of communist China during the Cultural Revolution.  It is not Christian.

Christian confession is compassionate, sensitive, and seeks to point people to restoring their relationship with God.  Where there is wrong done to one another, it is always right to encourage the perpetrator to confess.  We can ask in such a way that promotes denial or repentance.  The choice ought to be clear. Christian confession is a product of repentance, not a result of accusation. Ask in such a way that produces repentance and confession.

Apostle Peter – The Fisherman

Peter and Andrew were brothers. James and John were also brothers. They were in the fishing business.  That is to say they were fishermen who owned fishing boats, not fishermen who were employed to catch fish.  In that sense, they were entrepreneurs or business owners.

We don’t know how many boats they owned, but there is a hint of it in John 21.  After the resurrection of Jesus, Peter wanted to go fishing.  It was night and about the right time to fish.  When Peter was following Jesus, it is likely they employed others to fish for them.  Alternatively, they could have leased out their boats to other fishermen.  In either case, Peter should have a vacant and fully equipped boat that he could just take and go fishing.  This suggests to us that he had at least one standby boat.

In this event, we learn there were seven disciples.  They went fishing with Peter.  This suggests to us the size of the fishing boats.  Some fishing boats could take only two people.  But this could accommodate at least seven people.

When Jesus was in a storm with his disciples, it is possible that this was a boat belonging to Peter and Andrew, or James and John (Mark 4:36-41).  This boat was big enough to have a hold where Jesus could sleep.  This boat cannot be an open boat for just two people.

1st century boat found

A first century fishing boat was excavated and it was length 26½ ft x width 7½ ft x height 4½ ft.  There   seems  to   be enough space for the description of  activities on the boats,   but   it   would   be   a   tight  fit.  Josephus,  the  Jewish  historian suggested that the boat can hold 15 people.  Perhaps our understanding of space requirements today is different from that time.

Is it possible that this excavated boat is still a little small, and there may be bigger boats?  For that we wait for future discoveries.

In Luke 5:10, we are told that Peter and Andrew, James and John with their father Zebedee were partners in the fishing business.

We do not have details about this business relationship, but it was a good relationship.  They were hanging out together outside of their fishing business.

When they left their nets to follow Jesus, it does not mean they sold off their business.  In all likelihood, they kept their business which provided a source of income for them and their families.

Reconstruction of Boat

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