Reflection on Mark 12.18-27

Jesus said to the Sadducees, ‘You know neither the scriptures nor the power of God.’

How well do we know the scriptures? How often do we engage with that collection of divinely inspired writings that catalogue and reflect upon the relationship between God and humanity … the Bible? Scripture tells us of our God, the One who is omnipresent (always with us), omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (all powerful) and omnibenevolent (ever giving, loving and generous). Scripture also speaks of the promise of God’s coming amongst us, and then the fulfilment of that divine promise.

In today’s reading Jesus speaks with the Sadducees. Unlike other Jewish sects, the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. They knew their scriptures in terms of rules and regulations, but they failed to understand that those same scriptures were not simply a legal code. Sometimes we find ourselves falling into the same trap!

Many times I hear random verses from scripture used as though they provide the killer statement in an argument. Very often those ‘random verses’, plucked out of their true context, are being distorted into saying something very different from their true message. A few comforting or chastising words are plucked out and weaponised in a careless and casual way. Our misuse of scripture in this way aligns us with the Sadducees, those of whom Jesus said: You know neither the scriptures nor the power of God.

God is far beyond the puny reasoning powers of the human intellect. God created all things out of nothing. That alone is beyond our true level of understanding. God also gave humanity free will. Another difficult concept, and one that is turned against God when we question his willingness to allow ghastly things to happen in this world. Rather than understanding that it is through our misuse of his gracious gift that things go horribly wrong, we turn the argument around and blame God! And, just as God gives us the freedom to make both the right and the wrong choices, so he gives us the freedom to engage with scripture and stand in awe of his power, or to join the Sadducees in our ignorance.

Today we are challenged to open our scriptures, to read, to learn and to enact all that is contained therein. We are challenged to step out in the certainty that we are supported by the power of God. We are challenged to choose to be faithful disciples and apostles in this troubled and self-assured world.