It used to frustrate me, that in maths tests you had to show your working. Why was it not possible to just put the answer. The reason of course was that it is possible to get to the right answer, by totally the wrong method; or to get the wrong answer, but have worked it out the right way, just making a small error along the way – in which case you would get most of the marks for your working out.
The Sadducees seem to have had all the clues, all the information needed, and yet somehow in their working out, have come to the wrong answer:
Life in the Future World
18The Sadducees did not believe that people would rise to life after death. So some of them came to Jesus and said:
19Teacher, Moses wrote that if a married man dies and has no children, his brother should marry the widow. Their first son would then be thought of as the son of the dead brother. 20There were once seven brothers. The first one married, but died without having any children. 21The second brother married his brother’s widow, and he also died without having children. The same thing happened to the third brother, 22and finally to all seven brothers. At last the woman died. 23When God raises people from death, whose wife will this woman be? After all, she had been married to all seven brothers.
You are completely wrong! You don’t know what the Scriptures teach. And you don’t know anything about the power of God. 25When God raises people to life, they won’t marry. They will be like the angels in heaven. 26You surely know about people being raised to life. You know that in the story about Moses and the burning bush, God said, “I am the God worshipped by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” 27He isn’t the God of the dead, but of the living. You Sadducees are all wrong.
And so the question they come to Jesus with, is not even the right question…
They are focussing, in their hypothetical question, on what will happen when someone dies.
Why, Jesus wonders have they spent their time making up this ridiculous question, about a situation they don’t even believe in – instead of worrying about how they are living now. What Jesus is coming to do, is not primarily about life after death, but about how we live now. The new thing God is doing is to effect our lives, not our deaths.
People can get caught up in Christian faith being about, “Pie in the sky when you die”, but it is very much about here and now, living life to the full, living out God’s ways.
Tom Wright points us to the question of the Kingdom (p 124) – what is going to happen when God becomes King, and how does this relate to the world we’re living in now? They like things how they are, they have power, and they don’t want God messing that up. So instead of focussing on what God is doing now, they make up ridiculous questions to try to side-track him.
Yet what God is actually going to do, is way beyond anything that any of us can imagine (p 126). There’s no point in putting out whys and wherefores, wondering about what we cannot know. We need to get on with living with the God of the Living, and leaving the rest to him.
Are we focussed on the God of the Living? Do we want to live out his ways in our lives today? Are we asking God the right questions to get the answers we need to hear?
Forgive me Lord
for the times I try to limit you;
for the times I misunderstand you;
when I get side-tracked by things that don’t really matter;
for the times I ask the wrong question.
May I learn to live with you,
in the here and now, and seek you ways.