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Midweek Devotionals

Published weekly on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays.

Midweek Devotional 12/4/2014

Robert Chen

Dear Church:
LUKE 20:27-40
27Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him 28and asked him a question, "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. 29Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; 30then the second 31and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless.32Finally the woman also died. 33In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her."
34Jesus said to them, "Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; 35but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 36Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. 37And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. 38Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive." 39Then some of the scribes answered, "Teacher, you have spoken well." 40For they no longer dared to ask him another question.

Two groups of Jewish leaders were intent on getting at Jesus -- the Sadducees and the Pharisees. These were not interchangeable groups. In fact, some of their teachings were diametrically opposed to each other, the best known the Pharisees' affirmation of the resurrection and afterlife and the Sadducees' disaffirmation of the resurrection and afterlife. That's why the Sadducees were "Sad-you-see" (refreshing your memory of an outstanding Bible joke). The Pharisees, however, did not fare any better w/r/t the afterlife either b/c they did not get into heaven. Why? Because when it came to Jesus, they were not "fair-you-see."  Argh. 


The unfriendly jostling between the two groups can be seen in the Luke passage. The question about which husband the woman in the passage would marry in the resurrection is posed by some Sadducees, who are completely disingenuous since they don't believe in the resurrection. Again, another insincere query to trap Jesus.


The Sadducees are shot down by Jesus' answer, upon which some of the scribes (Pharisees) say to Jesus, "Teacher, you have spoken well." Really? You really believe that Jesus is a good teacher, or are you saying that to take a jab at the Sadducees? It's clearly the latter. If it weren't for the serious nature of Jesus' teaching and ministry, these interactions between these two groups would constitute a kind of low comedy.


But Jesus isn't entirely above the fray, either. He gets his digs in too. Subtle but it's there. Jesus answers the Sadducees, "Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage." I tend to read "those considered worthy of a place in that age" with the subtext, "and you, Sadducees, are not worthy ones." Jesus could have easily left out these words without losing any of the meaning of what he was saying. Even Jesus gets tired and a bit fed up with all these underhanded attacks from these religious leaders. Good for Jesus.


This devotional is not meant to encourage getting back at people who treat you badly. I think most of us need no encouragement. We might need more restraint. What's highlighted is the very human interaction that we often partake in or we find ourselves the recipients of. Underhanded, undermining communication is all too prevalent in our culture. Whether questions are posed to make us look bad. Whether it's insincere communication. Interactions like these destroy relationships and community. 


Two days ago I uploaded a picture of Dave Barry's "16 Things That It Took Me Over 50 Years To Learn." Very funny and very insightful. #8 on that list is, "The most destructive force in the universe is gossip." Unlike most items on the list, #8 is completely serious (and true). The Luke passage is not about gossip per se, but nevertheless both gossip and questions to entrap come from the same source: our sinful desire to destroy someone. If not literally, then figuratively through character assassination. We should be on guard and pray for our hearts to be full of goodness and kindness. 


Let's pray: Father God, we pray for wisdom in how we speak and love for how we consider people around us. We know what are truly in our hearts eventually come out and express themselves, either directly or indirectly. So we pray for our hearts, that our hearts be filled with goodness, gentleness, and kindness. Remind us of your grace at work in our lives as we receive your forgiveness and as we forgive those around us. May speaking truth in love become our natural language. And may praying in hope become our native tongue. In Jesus' Name, Amen.