Thursday, June 21st. Mark 12:18-27

Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that ‘if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no child, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother.’ There were seven brothers; the first married and, when he died, left no children; and the second married her and died, leaving no children; and the third likewise; none of the seven left children. Last of all the woman herself died. In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had married her.”

 

Jesus said to them, “Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the story about the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is God not of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.”  Mark 12:18-27

 

I just love the scene from Good Will Hunting where Matt Damon’s character verbally eviscerates the pony-tailed pretty boy pseudo-intellectual Harvard graduate student in the bar off Harvard Square.  That was the first image that came to mind is listening to the Sadducees take on Jesus.

 

The Sadducees included the temple priests in Jerusalem and that was a pretty good gig back then.  They were also prone to playing whatever politics they needed to play to keep Rome off their backs so they could do their temple thing.  It was a lucrative set up for everybody, all paid for by the religious pilgrims for whom the temple was the center of their universe.  Think “Rome Meets Las Vegas.”

 

As the highest social class, the Sadducees lived very well.  In this life.  Mark tells us that they didn’t believe in the resurrection.  They believed that we simply return to the dirt out of which we were made.  Which, of course, both justified and explained their cavalier attitude about the injustices and unrighteousness of the temple which they controlled.  If there is no resurrection, there is no accountability.  God’s blessings are realized in this life alone and they were doing quite well.  Carpe diem.

 

So they take on Jesus.  They trot out the kind of cute little word game that I might have used in college if I was attacking someone who tried to tell me about Jesus.  It doesn’t take long before Jesus foreshadows Will Hunting.

 

“You know neither the scriptures nor the power of God…”  Technically, I guess I’m a religious leader.  I graduated from both college and the seminary.  I’ve served churches for a long time.  I can tell you that there is no more powerful sword to wield against me than to tell me that I know nothing about the scriptures or the power of God.  That one cuts deep.  Especially to religious leaders like the Sadduccees.

 

Jesus ends with “you are quite wrong” which I appreciate because it is the only time he ever says something like that directly in any of the gospels.  He isn’t beating around the bush on this one.

 

But what I really appreciate is Jesus’ reminder – “He is God not of the dead, but of the living.”  Soon after I sat down to start writing this morning I got a phone call from a friend whose daughter was killed in a car accident last night.  She just graduated from college on Friday and was driving home from a job interview.  As horrific and tragic as that bad news is, the only good and comforting news that the family and friends she leaves behind will hear in the days to come is the good news of the resurrection because of the love of God poured out in Jesus.

 

I’ll take that over intellectual pissing matches any day.  (Excuse my French.)

 

Let us pray:  Dear God, you are life and death to us.  You are life itself to us.  You are everything.  Forgive us our pathetic attempts to explain you, to deny you, to attack you.  Forgive us for hiding behind the veneer of social respectability and class consciousness.  Come to us, in the tragedies and joy of these lives you have given us, to breath new life into a broken, rebellious and dying world.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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2 Responses to “Thursday, June 21st. Mark 12:18-27”

  1. briangigee Says:

    “How’d ya like them apples?”

  2. Anonymous Says:

    On a day when your child is torn from you violently and suddenly, hope in the ever after may be the only thing to cling to to keep your sanity. Jesus, thank you, for the hope you give these people and the promise you give us all.

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