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The Scriptorium

How to Read and Understand Scripture

Look to Jesus. Luke 20.27-39

Luke 20 (5)

Pray Psalm 119.33, 34.
Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;
Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.

Sing Psalm 1119.33, 34.
(Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
Teach me, Lord, and help me follow in Your perfect, righteous way!
From my heart I will observe and all Your holy Law obey.
Give me understanding, Jesus: I will keep Your Law always!

Read Luke 20.1-39; meditate on verses 27-39.


1. What were the Sadducees trying to do?

2. How did Jesus respond to their hypothetical situation?

The Sadducees had been paying attention. They picked up from Jesus’ teaching that He believed in the resurrection from the dead, and that a day was coming when all would rise and face the judgment of God. Well, that wasn’t in their theological wheelhouse (v. 27), so they sought to discredit Jesus and His teaching by setting up this hypothetical situation for Him to unscramble (vv. 28-33).

Matthew tells us that Jesus answered by reproving the Sadducees, who had just cited Scripture to Him, by saying they knew neither the Scriptures nor the power of God (Matt. 22.29). That must have ticked them off.

The Sadducees—like the other Jewish religious parties—cherry-picked the Scriptures to support their own views. But they did not read or consider the Scriptures carefully, and they refused to accept the claims of Jesus that the Old Testament consistently pointed to Him (cf. v. 17). They were the true keepers of Scripture, and they would put Jesus in His place.

Jesus baffled and silenced them in two ways. First, He asserted His own authority to interpret the Scriptures and to add to the Old Testament revelation, just as He had done before (cf. Lk. 6.1-11; 19.45, 46; 20.1-8). What He taught in verses 34-36 was news to the Sadducees. But Jesus, as the final and clearest revelation of God (Heb. 1.3), gave them more insight into God’s truth, just as He had been doing throughout His ministry. Second, He showed that they needed to read Scripture more carefully. Moses—whom the Sadducees were counting on to support their view—referred to God as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That must mean, Jesus explained, that those three were in some sense alive still, although they had been dead for years.

The lesson for us is that Jesus is the last Word on and of all Scripture (Jn. 5.39). If, in our reading and study of God’s Word, we miss Jesus, we’ve missed the most important lesson God has for us.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
The Sadducees, along with the Pharisees, needed to spend more of their Bible study time in the writings of Solomon. If they had, they might have learned to stop speaking. “The man of few words and settled mind is wise; therefore, even a fool is thought to be wise when he is silent. It pays him to keep his mouth shut” (Prov. 17.27, 28 TLB). “Don’t talk so much. You keep putting your foot in your mouth. Be sensible and turn off the flow!” (Prov. 10.19 TLB). “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few…a fool’s voice is known by his many words” (Eccl. 5.2, 3).

Jesus always said exactly the right thing at the right time—gracious and wise speech. However, His enemies constantly spoke rashly, and they made less and less sense the longer they talked.

And thanks to their unwise behavior, we have something to learn from these foolish ones:
Listen to Jesus. Feed on His every Word. Love Him. Trust Him. Don’t doubt or question His Word or Authority. That tactic never works out well. Observe the naysayers of old.

We would do well to take on the attitude of Asaph when he prayed:
“Thus my heart was grieved, and I was vexed in my mind.
I was so foolish and ignorant; I was like a beast before You.
Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand.
You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (Ps. 73.21-24).

The words of David guide us as well:
“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him.
The young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing” (Ps. 34.8-10).

And the good things? The truth of the resurrection. The gift of forgiveness. Citizenship in the Kingdom of God with much good work to do. And the Holy Spirit Who strengthens us to do it.

“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6.33).

And saying rash things to Jesus? Or questioning His Authority? Please don’t.
Just be still and quiet and KNOW that He is God” (Ps. 46.10).

For reflection
1. Why should we always read and study Scripture to know Jesus better?

2. If that’s not our purpose in reading and studying Scripture, what will be?

3. What’s one thing you can begin doing to improve your reading and study of Scripture?

The Savior also demonstrated the great ignorance of the Sadducees by bringing forward their own leader Moses, who was clearly acquainted with the resurrection of the dead. Cyril of Alexandria (375-444), Commentary on Luke, Homily 136

Pray Psalm 119.35-40.
Pray that God’s Word will light your path today, and that He will revive and renew you in His righteousness and truth, and cause Jesus to increase in you.

Sing Psalm 119.35-40
(Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
Make me walk in Your commandments, let me keep Your holy part.
I will keep Your Law unfailing; from it let me ne’er depart.
For Your Word is my delight, Lord; help me keep it from the heart.

To Your holy testimonies, turn my heart, O gracious Lord.
Let me covet nothing worthless; my delight is in Your Word.
O revive me! O revive me, in Your way, most holy Lord!

Set me firmly in Your statutes, for Your servant, Lord am I.
Fearing You in sweet devotion, let me live until I die.
Let no dread, let no reproach obscure Your judgments from my eye.

For Your holy precepts, Jesus, my whole heart longs earnestly,
for Your judgments all are good; Your Word is a delight to me!
In Your righteousness revive me! For Your goodness I would see!

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can download all the studies in our Luke series by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by
clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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