Faulty Premise

Day 2 New Testament Reading Plan: Matthew 20-28, Mark 1-10

Devotional: "Faulty Premise"

But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” – Matthew 22:29

This is perhaps the most devastating retort in all of Scripture.  It is Jesus’ response to a smug, carefully contrived logical puzzle put forward by the Sadducees, a group of religious leaders who didn’t believe in life after death.  In trying to trap Him, they concocted a fanciful logical scenario involving seven brothers who marry the same person and then die, leaving Jesus the “impossible” task of sorting out whose wife she’d be at the resurrection.

But here, as in many other places in the gospels, Jesus ignores their silly question and cuts right to the heart of the matter.  His answer shows that their question is nonsense—not even worthy of a direct response—because they don’t understand the two fundamental pillars of theology, and the only way to make sense of life: the Scriptures and the power of God.  With those two things absent, the Sadducees were left beating at shadows and making castles in the sand.  

In questions of faith, just as important as coming to the right conclusion is starting with the right premise.  If your premise is sound, at least you have a chance of coming to the right conclusion.  But if you’re lacking the fundamentals, there is no hope at all.  Imagine a scientific paper written by someone who firmly believed that 2 + 2 = 5.  The results would be almost inconceivably skewed—it’s hard to even imagine what that would look like.  So Jesus doesn’t even try, but instead eviscerates their faulty logic, showing them their error but also, mercifully, how to fix it.

It might be painful to hear, and even more painful to experience, but the truth is that Jesus is king, and His rule is absolute.  We live in His world, not He in ours.  Did you ever see a bumper sticker with the slogan “God is my co-pilot”?  While this may seem catchy, or proclaim some level of commitment, the reality of Scripture shows that if God is your co-pilot, you are far, far off course.  God comes on His terms, not ours, and we forget His kingship at our peril.  God does not fit easily into the role of a convenient helper, to be trotted out or put away at a will.  If we try to relegate Him like that, then we, too “know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.”

It’s easy to pile on the Sadducees and ridicule them for their foolishness.  But in our eagerness to pull the speck from their eye, let’s not forget the log in our own!  Where have you forgotten the Scriptures, leaving yourself prone to sin?  Where have you forgotten the power of God, leaving you prone to fear?  What premise is informing your daily life that the Holy Spirit wants to correct?  Maybe you believe that you’re too old, too poor, too unhealthy, too needy, too sinful, or too broken to do what God has called you to do.  If so, may you listen today to Jesus’s words, and repent.  

Jesus, You are my king.  As I begin this fast, convict me and correct my faulty premises.  Show me the ways that I have disregarded Your Scriptures and Your power.  I repent of allowing my worldview to be shaped by anything except for You.  I pray that over these next two weeks, You would fill me up with Your word and Your power, and change in me whatever You want to change.   Amen.

Tim Pillsbury
Ministry Director, CU Vox at Dartmouth College

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