I find two incidents in the Gospels shed light on Jesus view of the scriptures and authority. The first is in Mark 12:18-27 (also Matthew -33). The Sadducees issue their challenge against the resurrection of the dead by recounting a story of a woman who was married to seven brothers according to levirate marriage laws. The Sadducees want to know which of the seven she will be married to in heaven since she had been married to all seven in succession on earth! (BTW, this story bears a striking resemblance to Tobit 3:7-9, a book Protestants do not consider canonical, but which Catholics do. So which scriptura is sola?).
Jesus reply is that when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels in heaven. She will be married to none of the seven or to anyone else! But more than that, he tells them that they are mistaken because they do not know the scriptures or the power of God, the very things they were sure they knew! They had forgotten the scripture where God had said “I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:6). And they had forgotten the power of God, for if he is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, then they are alive because God is not the God of the dead but of the living! As Jesus tells them, “You are greatly misled.”
The Sadducees argued from a scripture they didn’t believe. The scriptures alone were not enough; they had them and they were wrong about the resurrection of the dead because they also needed to understand the power of God.
The other incident is found in John’s Gospel. In chapter 5, Jesus heals a lame man by the pool of
Jesus tells them that the work he does testifies that he comes from the Father and that the Father himself has testified on Jesus behalf. But they do not believe. “You search the scriptures because you think that you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life.”
The Pharisees were right to search the scriptures to find eternal life. Jesus does not rebuke them for this. But the scriptures alone will not give them, or us, eternal life, only Jesus can. But they would not come to Jesus. They thought they had eternal life through the scriptures. But they missed the testimony of the scriptures about Jesus, so they would not come to him to have life.
In both instances, people relied on their understanding of scripture alone and were mistaken. What they missed each time was the God of the scriptures. Words on a page can only give you the letter of what you need to have eternal life. It is the Spirit of God whose power gives that life. It is that same Spirit that Jesus said would lead us to all truth (John -15). He has given the Spirit to the Church and the Church has given us the scriptures. We need both; the scriptures and the