Like so many others, the Sadducees come to Jesus with what seems like an impossible question. Perhaps we should give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are actually interested in the answer, but the odds seem long. More likely, this is a question carefully crafted to catch Jesus in some sort of inconsistency, an attempt to undermine Jesus’ authority with a tricky predicament. But Jesus is not caught off-guard.
Jesus answers the question with a question, which may be considered elusive in our current cultural context but which is exceedingly wise, nevertheless. It’s a valid question, Sadducees, but only if you are ignorant of the Scriptures and the power of God. Your move – well, at least in theory. I think Jesus knew his question/answer would be interpreted as rhetorical. How could these religious leaders possibly respond? Their plan has failed spectacularly.
But Jesus does not waste the opportunity.
Instead, Jesus expands his answer to remind the Sadducees, who actually don’t believe in the resurrection at all, that their inquiry leads to just that. Maybe all serious inquiries do. Jesus turns this predicament on its head. He doesn’t dignify the question with a straight answer but creates space to attend to a more pressing matter of faith. Instead of focusing on death, Jesus reminds the Sadducees that although this earthly life is temporary, life itself is eternal. This God of the living transcends time and mere deductive reasoning.
Like Jesus, may we always be prepared to give an answer for our hope, an answer rooted in love and fashioned for the sake of those who ask the difficult questions. And may our own questions lead to clarity as we seek hope and truth as resurrection people. Amen.
Rev. L Michaels is a district licensed pastor in the Church of the Nazarene and a teaching fellow at Boston University, working diligently to responsibly hold in tension theological education, a passion for justice, and coffee breaks on the shore.
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