You know you are worshipping a false God, when this God hates the same people you do.
-spoken by an unknown person at a retreat I recently attended
Jesus welcomes all questions, and all questioners. Mark 12 shows us three types of questioning souls. The first were people who came to Jesus with the intent of proving him wrong and getting him into trouble with the authorities. They came with false hearts and impure motives and left in “utter amazement.” The encounter changed them.
The Sadducees represent the next type of questioner. (Mark 12:18-27) They came to Jesus with a query about the law (on which they placed a high value) attempting to determine Jesus’ orthodoxy. Would he answer correctly? Would he be on their team?
Their minds were made up, only the right answer from Jesus would prove him credible. Notice I wrote that their minds were made up, their hearts were not involved.
Again, Jesus avoids their “game” and shows them their lack.
Is this not the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God?” Mark 12:24
They did not fully understand the scriptures (the moral law) and they didn’t understand the power of God (the mystical Spirit.) Both are needed.
Ask St. Paul. His mind was made up and his heart was hard. It took the mysterious intervention of the Holy Spirit to expand his narrow understanding of God’s word. Paul’s excellent mind, with it’s predetermined and finite understanding of the Scriptures, needed to be set aside, his heart needed to be penetrated with the mystery of the living Lord.
Oh, there are Sadducees among us and within us; using Scriptures that prove our point, minimizing or ignoring the rest. Convinced of the correctness of our doctrine, or our theology, or style of worship, or spiritual practices, or who’s in the kingdom and who’s not (sadly, the list can be endless), we need God to agree with us. We have already determined which questions are allowable to ask and have the acceptable answers at the ready. Like the Sadducees, our minds are made up, we think in black and white.
I know this all too well. Jesus lovingly allows gray to enter the picture. He gently introduces paradox and mystery. He instructs from the Word of God and the Word of the life’s experience. Entering this mystery, letting go of our predetermined answers is the threshold of mature faith. God allows the questions, the unknown, and the uncertain, hoping it will cause us to give up control and cast ourselves on his love.