Reflection based on the Gospel from November 21, 2015
The Sadducees play an important role in today’s passage from Luke. Scholars tell us that Sadducees rejected all books of the Bible except for the Torah, or the first five. Nothing outside of these five books was authoritative or doctrinally binding to them. Thus, believing they couldn’t find the promise of eternal life and resurrection explicitly in the Torah, they rejected those beliefs. Rejecting eternal life is why they were ‘Sad-you-see’ (I can’t take credit for that pun). Luke also tells us about their denial of the Resurrection, which brings us to their confrontation with Jesus. After their attempt to trap Jesus by making the Resurrection sound absurd, He responds in a very important way. He provides evidence from the Torah.
Jesus hears their question, he then clarifies that the false dilemma they have presented him doesn’t apply. Above and beyond that though, it is His act of reaching back and citing the Torah that is instructive. Jesus could have jumped all over the Old Testament extracting more explicit references. Heck, as God incarnate, He could have just defended the Resurrection with “Because I said so.” But instead of hammering home his point with all of His favorite defenses, He extends an invitation to the Sadducees by meeting them on neutral ground, by speaking their language.
This simple process of knowing the person we are dialoguing with, knowing what they consider authoritative, and then speaking their language needs to be imitated today. I get the impression too often that we have lost the art of disagreeing. Instead we cut people off who disagree with us, or we both talk past each other, appealing more to our egos and audience than the person for whom we should be concerned. We struggle to see healthy disagreement as an act of caring, but I think that is because we rarely see healthy disagreements.
Furthermore, Christ’s answer is first and foremost a verse about who God is, not a proof text for the resurrection. This is a reminder that any answer that does not point back, in some way, to God is incomplete.
Lord, you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. When we have wandered from your path, bought into a lie, or turned somewhere else for meaning and life, please give us brothers and sisters that can lovingly speak our language and draw our attention back to you. Should you put us in someone else’s life to be that person, please give us the grace to do so as Jesus did.