23 January 2015
Reading: Matthew 22; Psalm 20
Jesus answered, “You’re off base on two counts: You don’t know your Bibles, and you don’t know how God works." (Matthew 22:29 MSG)
The Pharisees and the Sadducees were the two main denominations of the Jews in Jesus’ day. They disagreed with each other on several major points, not least of which was that Pharisees believed in the spirit world and life after death, and the Sadducees believed that when you die, you’re done. The Pharisees were biblical literalists who were looking for God to intervene and free Israel from Rome, and the Sadducees were political pragmatists who were making the Roman system work for them as best they could.
What they did agree on is that Jesus didn’t fit either of their denominations’ doctrines, and was a serious threat to the established religious and political balance. The only time they could seem to get along with each other was when they were trying to get rid of Jesus! Here the Pharisees and Sadducees came at Jesus from both sides, trying to discredit him theologically and expose him as a danger politically.
Jesus responded to the trick question of the Sadducees with a simple statement: “You don’t know your Bibles, and you don’t know how God works.” I think this is the cause of much of the conflict among God-worshipers and the key to understanding what to do when answers to difficult questions seem hard to find.
We need to know our Bibles. We also need to know how God works.
If we know our Bibles, we have the history, the pattern, and insights into God’s actions and human behavior. We have the record of the demonstrations of God’s power and the guidelines he has given for our lives. We have the body of information and knowledge.
If we know God; his character, his nature, his justice, his compassion, his overwhelmingly redemptive attitude and his loving actions toward us, we will have the basis for understanding the information we have. We will be able to interpret the Bible in a manner that’s consistent with who God is and how God works.
Father, For much of my life, I’ve concentrated on knowing the Bible, your inspired word. Now please lead me in a season of better knowing you, your nature, and how you work. May I always interpret your Word through your nature, your Son, and your Spirit. Amen.