the one about the living...
November 11, 2019, 8:00 AM

Sermon from November 10, 2019

Text: Luke 20: 27-38

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, here’s a question for y’all. Have you ever been asked a question by a person or a group of people who don’t think what you’re doing is a good thing? Where the question they ask is a ridiculous scenario and strong man argument in an attempt to trip you up and undermine your work, service, and love?

More than likely, you’ve received those questions during a conversation about politics or even religion. I’m not going to get into specific straw man arguments that we see today, because there is one thing that they most assuredly do – because its intentional –get a rise out of people and devolve into heated arguments that go nowhere. We don’t need to do that.

But, I bring up the straw man argument because we see it happening to Jesus today.

Throughout scripture, Jesus talks about resurrection. That God intends to make full that promise of new life to all of creation. In fact, in some sense the faithful people that Jesus has been speaking to believe in some sort of general resurrection. It’ll happen, but they aren’t really to sure about what it will be like, why, and when it’ll happen. They believe that it will happen, they just aren’t as ‘obsessed’ with it.

So, of course, Jesus speaks to those individuals and to all about resurrection. About God’s love lived in and lived out through this holy promise of new life and love. Inviting all into this life of faith so that they too might know that joy, love, and promise of hope.

But, of course, as with any good thing, there are always those who stand back and perhaps mock because they don’t believe in what is going on. It could be because they don’t want it to happen, they don’t think they can be a part of it, or they believe it is just not true. Yet, just as it is true today it was true then – those who ‘don’t agree’ with something have a terrible habit of having to get their few words in when they could’ve just moved along.

Today, we see that Jesus was able to interact with those types of people. Those who don’t believe in any resurrection. And they propose a ridiculous scenario and question to the Lord.

If there is a resurrection (and we don’t believe there is) what then happens to a woman who is married seven times and dies? Whose wife is she in this ‘resurrection’ you speak so much about?

And Jesus’ response to them doesn’t answer their question. Because, I think no matter what they wouldn’t be satisfied with whatever answer Jesus would give them. It seems that Jesus is trying to shift them away from this thing they don’t understand and focus on the thing that is before them each day.

Because here’s the thing – I don’t know what relationships will be like in the resurrection. I don’t. There wasn’t a class on that. There isn’t a primer with those answers.

But, I also know that how we view life now – with all its getups and hang-ups – shouldn’t be how we exclusively view life in the resurrection. The future cannot be solely viewed through the lens of today, just like the past cannot be solely judged through the lens of today either.

What does matter is that instead of focusing on the ridiculous scenarios we can concoct in our heads (like that of a woman marrying seven brothers, each relationship being childless or probably more accurately without a son, and each brother dying before the woman until she dies sometime in the future) and instead focusing on the embodied life that God gifts to us today. Focusing on the work we get to do now in order to bring this promise of new life and eternal love to a world in desperate need to hear and receive it.

Here’s the deal when Moses enacted that law it was a way, within the patriarchal and misogynistic society - that he was in - to support and protect a woman. Women didn’t have much or any authority during that time. Without a husband or a son, a woman could not provide for herself within the structures of that culture. So, being married to a brother – in the hopes of #1 providing protection for that woman’s life and #2 providing an heir to that first brothers name and life – were incredibly important. In addition to loving God with all yourself; one of the predominant themes of scripture is providing and caring for those who are the most disadvantaged in our societies – and during the many times that each of the books of the Bible were written – that was widows, orphans, and immigrants. We are called to love, care, support, and provide for those in need.

So, Jesus talks to these Sadducees and appears to be pushing them to not so much concern themselves with the reality of the resurrection (that they neither understand nor believe in) but, instead to focus on God’s work that is before them right now. Caring for the living. Seeing God at work in life now. Knowing that God is present in the world at this very moment.

I’ve heard and I’ve mentioned in sermons before that some people think and believe that the Bible is a cute acronym for ‘Basic Instructions Before Living Earth.’ The biggest issue I have with that, is that the focus is on the afterlife. Most people who spout that acronym definition care more about where they feel they’ll end up in Jesus’ eventual return than they do about the multitude of people around them in need. Also, there isn’t much about us ‘leaving’ earth in the bible. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when we are waiting for Jesus’ return and God’s redemption and fulfillment of all of creation. But, that’s a discussion for another time.

There are so many things in life that we do not understand or even believe. There are times when we focus so much on the extreme of a scenario – whatever political, cultural, or religious thing it might be – that we fail to see the good that we can do leading up to whatever outcome is being proposed.

Jesus today – I think – is telling the Sadducees and telling us – don’t focus so much on what the resurrection will be like. Know that it is true, but don’t’ get bogged down looking at it through the lenses we have today. But, in the meantime focus on living into what God calls us towards – what Jesus invites us into – what the Holy Spirit pushes and drags us through. Caring for those in need, living into God’s love for all, proclaiming Jesus’ love and hospitality to all in the world, living into that life of faith, hope, and promise. Living a life knowing God is of the Living. Live this faith so that you are giving life to those around you.

As a commentator wrote this week…

Resurrection is throughout the scriptures.

With no resurrection there is no way to escape death.

And with no escape from death, what can we hope for in this life?

And yet, God offers life as an escape from death through Jesus Christ.

And yet, Jesus is the resurrection.

Stop losing sight of the forest because of the trees. See the resurrected life and its promise lived out before your very eyes right now. See the life that is offered because of Christ. Live into that life of faith. Boldly accept that invitation to something new. Radically care for, serve with, and support those now – so that all might know of this promise and love. Let us work together, proclaim together, struggle together so that we all might know that we have life and a God of the living. Amen.

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