“You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” Matthew 22:29 (NIV)
Five days until death is conquered. Tensions mount and the Enemy provokes Jesus through humans who confidently act without knowledge.
The three main passages we will include for this day’s events are Mark 11:12-14, Mark 11:15-18, and Matthew 22:23.
In Mark 11:12-14, Jesus leaves Bethany. Starting out on this journey, He realizes He’s hungry. Seeing a fig tree, He walks over to it, imagining how delicious the fruit would taste in this moment of empty stomach pangs.
Yet, when Jesus checked the tree, there was no fruit. The tree was out of season. Jesus then cursed the tree so that it would never produce fruit again. It was not ready when He was ready to utilize it. (How often are we humans the same way? We aren’t ready for use by God when He is ready to utilize us? We need to always be prepared. We need to be ready at any moment, not just the convenient moments.)
In both Mark 11:15-18 and Matthew 22:23 we see Jesus’ authority and his frustration over the people. They are acting and speaking in confidence, yet have no reason to be so confident because, they are wrong. Jesus calls them on their lack of Scriptural knowledge and their lack of knowledge of God.
In Mark 11:15-18 Jesus makes a dramatic demonstration at the temple to drive home His point: the temple was built so people could come, repent, and worship God.
It was not built for man’s financial profit. Jesus underscored just how wrong they were!
In Matthew 22:23 Jesus was addressing the question of marriage in heaven. He knew the leaders were trying to trap Him in His words. Jesus corrected their misunderstanding of relationships operating in heaven and He further drove home their misunderstanding of the importance of focusing on what God’s will is for today while we are living, not focusing so much on what will happen when we die.
The Sadducees were religious leaders who, unlike the people, had access to the Scriptures. Jesus reminded them of their role and their responsibility to not only know Scripture and to know God for themselves, but also know all these things to share with those they are leading.
Jesus let His felt frustration shine through. He called them on their errors. But note how He did it. Speaking the truth in love, without sarcasm or name calling, He was honest. And, He honored the Father in His honesty. God supplied Jesus’ needs to address the current issues at hand with diplomacy and truth and still be God-honoring. God supplied His needs.
If we truly love God, we will make time for Him. We will be ready for whatever He calls us to, whenever. We will make time for reading His Word. We will make time to spend time quietly at His feet. If we are only keeping the rules without engaging our hearts, we too, are quite missing the point.
Jesus knew he’d leave earth shortly. He reminded the leaders that to lead, they must know Scripture and know God. He reminded His disciples who were with Him by the fig tree to always be ready to bear fruit, or when Jesus returns He might not claim them. He reminded the people to focus on God’s will for today and not to spend too much time pondering what happens after death.
All these lessons are available to us in Scripture today. How will we choose to respond?
Do I watch and pray? What am I doing to be ready for His return?
Have I turned my church into something other than a place to worship God?
Do I incorporate God’s desires into my daily life or do I consider Him only in terms of eternity?
Prayer: Lord God, how easily I can condemn what the Sadducees did in Scripture, and how easily I miss that I repeat the same actions. We are to have confidence in You. We are also to read and know Your word. Please help me to pursue Your word and truth passionately, always learning and leaning on You. Thank You for constantly offering grace and mercy and instruction so that I might learn. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Thanks for reading! Please return by Monday, March 7, for the next post.