Summary: Sincere seeking of truth

Weekend Message/Devotion

Mark 12:28-34

November 4, 2018

Not A Trick Question This Time

Let’s back up a minute and look at the conversation between Jesus and the Sadducees in their quest to present a question to trap Jesus with questions concerning the remarriage of a widowed woman to a brother-in-law according to the law of Moses. See Mark 12:18-27.

The trick question was found in verse 23: “Therefore, in the resurrection, when they rise, whose wife will she be? For all seven had her as wife.”

Jesus answered with a quick and pointed response that set them back immediately: verses 25-27 “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are therefore greatly mistaken.”

Can you not sense the sting that these Sadducees must have experienced? Seeking clarification is one thing but formulating questions seeking a means of tricking or embarrassing someone is quite another. Now, let’s look at today’s gospel reading.

A scribe (let’s look at him as a scholarly person) had just observed this conversation between Jesus and the Sadducees and was quite impressed with how Jesus handled the situation. Now, this scribe has a question.

“Which is the first commandment of all?” (verse 28) His motive was in no way nefarious, he simply sought clarification, that he would be better prepared to interpret the “law” as a legal scholar. Though as in legal matters of our times, laws and interpretations of laws can be quite complex and even confusing not only to a lay person but even among scholars and lawyers. To have an explanation that simplifies our understanding best prepares us for obedience and for sharing.

Jesus answers by referring way back to Deuteronomy 6:4-5 - “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Then Jesus quotes another Old Testament commandment found in Leviticus 19:18 – “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.”

Isn’t the simple understanding: 1) There is but ONE GOD! No other gods exist in reality, even though there may be some in the MINDS of men. That is certainly NOT reality. No other being and no other entity or concept. To some wealth becomes their god, to others it may be fame, even celebrities of various genres are idolized and worshipped, BUT there is only ONE GOD and that is our CREATOR, our Heavenly Father. 2.) We read and hear a lot about God being love. Well God is the epitome of love. God is the creator of love. In one of our most popular wedding ceremonies, we include a prayer that begins: “Almighty God, Creator of both life and love, bless and sanctify – [name and name] with your Holy Spirit and as they enter into the covenant of marriage, we also beseech your blessing and sanctification upon that marriage.” When we extend love to our neighbor, we extend the love of God.

Sometimes, we might know the law or know what a biblical writing is, but do we truly understand the meaning or intent of that law or writing? The best biblical scholars, teachers and preachers ALWAYS seek a deeper understanding. They may not grasp it all in a quick perusal but with determination and dedication, a better understanding is forthcoming.

Who is the best teacher? Jesus! How do we learn from Jesus? Prayer and study! Where do we find the resources to study? Holy Scripture!

The best advice that this old preacher can share with you is: when you set out prayerfully to learn and expound - BE SINCERE in what you are doing.

Let us pray.

I humbly and sincerely ask for your prayers!

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