Jesus And Resurrection
There is a terrifically challenging story in the Gospel of Mark, right on the heels of the story that discussed last week about paying taxes. Jesus is approached by a group of Sadduccees and given a case study meant to trap him or trick him. Take a moment and read that story by clicking here.
If you have ever thought that you have asked a convoluted question before, then I would ask you in return if it seems more complicated that this one that the Sadduccees ask here. It is complicated because of the number of brothers involved, the Law that proscribes this practice (found in Deuteronomy 25:5, by the way), and because of our modern eyes reading this story wondering how this family dynamic could possibly play out. And on top of all this, the question is a question projecting into the afterlife from a group of people who don’t even believe in the afterlife.
It’s a little complicated.
Basically, the question put forward to Jesus is this: is the Law flawed? Did God make a mistake that we will all unhappily discover in the age to come?
And Jesus responds brilliantly. Because Jesus turns the answer not into a debate about whether the Law is right or wrong, but a discussion about the nature of God. This is such a good lesson for us to learn! Whenever we get into discussions trying to decide whether the Law is right or wrong, good or bad, trustworthy or not, Jesus tells us that we are having the wrong discussion. The better discussion is to ask about God’s nature. Who is God? What does God want? What is God like? And when we are able to answer those questions (or at least to bring them to the table), the questions about the Law’s accuracy fade into the background. Instead, the right kind of questions and topics take center stage.
I find this to be an extraordinarily helpful idea. Because it is absolutely true that we disagree about interpretations of Scripture, applications of Scripture, and even the intent behind the writing of Scripture. Sometimes, I wonder if we go out of our way to find things to disagree about (the classic examples are paint and carpet color!). We seem to have a pretty good idea about what we think the Bible says or ought to say about this topic or that.
The only problem with that is that it has very little to do with God. And that’s kind of Jesus’ point here. The Sadduccees want to know which brother will be married to this woman at the resurrection. They haven’t said or asked anything about God at all! And Jesus immediately turns the attention away from their question and towards God.
God is not a God of the dead–but of the living! Why aren’t we talking about that? This is the God that our ancestors worshipped and passed on the story of the promises of God to us generation after generation. This faith, this God is alive! We are alive! Why are we worrying about these details (details which Jesus says are ill-founded and misinformed from Scripture) when we can and should be talking about God?
Do you see how brilliant Jesus is here?
Because we do and will continue to run into situations where we have disagreements about this or that verse in the Bible. We will wonder how to proceed when we have those disagreements. But Jesus reminds us here to keep our eyes on what truly matters–we worship the living God!
In times of confusion and questions, this ought to always remain our focus. It is my prayer that this week, we can keep our eyes focused on and our lives centered on our God.