Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. (Matt. 22:29)
Matthew walks us through the height of confrontation as Jesus faces arrest, trial, and suffering. A question has come to him as the religious leaders are trying desperately to trip up Jesus and discount his ability and authority. This particular question is a “technical” question that is all about us as “human intellectuals.” That is, we major on the minors and minor on the majors. We look for the obscure things too often and come up with theories. This is one of those questions.
I find in this answer something that can speak both to those who are spiritually dead and think they’re alive… and also to those who are dead and think they’re spiritually seeking.
To the spiritually dead who think they’re alive, Jesus offers this answer:
“You don’t know the Scriptures.”
That’s gotta hurt. For the religious leaders in Jesus’ day, it was all about knowing the Law and all the teachings on the Law. These guys aren’t dumb. And Jesus comes along and says, “You really aren’t aware of what you’re reading, are you?”
There are intellectuals who can parse the verbs and make fine points out of very fine points… points so tiny most people miss them (and for good reason)… but it makes them sound so doggone smart!
But in studying Scripture, the danger is that we may miss reading the Scripture. We may be missing the far larger point of the story. Jesus is giving a hard answer to the ones who have made their brains into little gods.
I also find the second part of his answer is poignant to those who are “spiritual seekers.”
“You don’t know the power of God.”
We can make a lifelong journey (and also a large following on Twitter) out of doubt. Out of skepticism. Out of trashing one segment of the church and writing blogs and books and speaking at conferences filled with angst-filled doubters that gobble up the same feelings and the dollars and attention roll in.
“I’m spiritual, but not religious.”
There is a seeking that goes on. That is not what I put into question. It is the constant seeking without end that keeps drawing attention only because you keep throwing doubt and criticism around that needs to stop.
Jesus is saying, “At some point, you can meet the true power of God and you can honestly know what the Kingdom is all about.”
What is necessary in the Kingdom? What is what Jesus focuses on in this Holy Week. What is necessary is knowing the Scriptures and the power of God.
Does it answer all questions and remove all doubt? No.
But when we are anchored in knowing Christ, we find a place to come home. We can question. We can stumble. And we still find the power of God. We still find the essentials of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus calls us home.
In this Holy Week, hear what is needed. Come home.