Monday of the Week of Lent I
Then the Pharisees went and took counsel how to entangle him in his talk…But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching. (Matthew 22:15, 29-33)
Christians are familiar with skeptics who are always trying to “entangle” us in our talk about Jesus, the faith and the church. They want to poke holes in our beliefs, show how intelligent they are, not believing such foolish talk of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It all began with our Lord and how the Pharisees and religious leaders “took counsel how to entangle him in his talk.”
Our reading today includes the account of the Pharisees asking Jesus about paying taxes to Caesar and then the Sadducees challenging him to explain how resurrection would work, as their teachings required that brothers marry their brother’s widow, leading to a situation where several brothers might have been married to the same woman. Not believing in resurrection, they thought they had trapped Jesus in his assertion that there would be a resurrection after death. Jesus’ answers silence these religious leaders, while astonishing the crowds! The religious leaders have no response—while the people are amazed at the knowledge, authority and wisdom of Jesus!
Truly, Jesus’ words in verse 29 says it all: “You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God.” He then goes on to announce the reality of resurrection and what life after death will be like. It is an indictment of the religious leaders who, while knowledgeable about many things, are ignorant of the Scriptures, missing the power of God unto salvation! And are we better? Do we know the Scriptures? Can we proclaim the power of God and testify to the reality of resurrection in such a way that we are faithful witnesses to Jesus Christ?
On the one hand, we are not saved by our knowledge, either of Scripture or God himself. On the other, knowing Scripture prepares and enables us to be ready to share with others the good news that, in Jesus Christ, we have the hope and promise of eternal life then and abundant life now!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, reveal to us the truth about you in all the Scriptures, and create in me a hunger and thirst for the Word of God, to which I turn every day. Amen.
Lenten Response: Email the “Reading the Word of God, 2018” daily reading calendar to friends and family. Find it on the NALC website, www.thenalc.org.
Video Devotional: From Ashes to Easter
Additional Daily Readings: Genesis 35:16–36:9; Psalm 46; Matthew 22:15–33
Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2CMv4Lp
Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.