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Summary: Jesus Challenges us to know the word of God.

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Are you in error because you do not know the scripture?

"Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. "Teacher," they said, "Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. The second one married the widow but he died also, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all the woman died too. At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her.

Jesus replied, "Are you in error because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God? When the dead rise, they will neither marry or be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. Now about the dead rising - have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, "I am the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are badly mistaken."

Mark 12:18-27

If you really want to understand a scripture fully, copy it by hand. Writing it out will give you a feel for the dialogue and the rhythm of the passage. Approaching this scripture with some trepidation, I got my trusty fountain pen and opened to a fresh page in my notebook. When I finished writing I had two thoughts about the question the Sadducees asked Jesus. They were:

1. What a long question.

2. What a stupid question.

Jesus, who seems to have noticed both the length and stupidity of the query, says it in a much more classy way. "Are you in error because you do not know the scripture or the power of God?" the Rabbi asks. In other words - Are you ignorant or just unbelieving?

We all have those nights where we lay awake at three in the morning asking God questions. Some of them are profound. Some of them are just plain silly. "Am I following your calling?" or "If I took a sick day to catch up on the laundry, would that be a sin?" Whether the questions are produced by that part of our mind controlled by fear or remain the product of too much chocolate cake, it would benefit us greatly to think of the Rabbi’s question. Are we ignorant of scripture or is this a moment of doubt?

Part of the personal challenge in the reply Jesus gives is the necessity for consistent scriptural study and application. The Bible is not just an old book - it is a new hope that has something to say to us day by day. The scriptures have God’s message for us at any age we encounter them. The story of David and Goliath is an action packed adventure for children who see the whole adult world as a collection of giants. For adolescents it represents the power of youth, and college students relate to the feeling that the degree plan seems so long and hard but it can be conquered one rock at a time. Working adults understand that no matter how big the company, it’s the little person in the cubicle who has the ability to make a difference. Senior citizens, tempted to despair that they are nearing the end of the journey and didn’t see some of their dreams come true are encouraged to remember age doesn’t count for much and anything is possible. It makes short people proud, and tall people nervous. It isn’t meant to be encountered once, but again and again and again.

If you were walking through the grocery store and the Rabbi came up to you as you were thumping cantaloupes and asked, "Do you know the scriptures?" What would you say? If you are like most of us you would reply, "Not as well as I should." If that is your answer you know what to do. Keep a daily study time, investigate scriptural opportunities at church, read commentaries or other books that shed light on the passages you always meant to get a grasp on but never really understood, talk to a friend about a thought you find interesting. One of the most powerful ways to have a relationship with the word of God is to take your own Bible to church on Sunday and keep it open even after the scripture reading has finished. Refer to the passage while the minister talks and write down (either in its margins or a notebook) what the scripture makes you think or feel.

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