Did you happen to read?

That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called out ‘Lord, ‘ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” 

Thank you for joining us this Sunday as we testify to the great salvation and promise we have in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Today’s gospel begins very plainly and factually. Here comes another group to challenge Jesus. This time it is the Sadducees, as the gospel notes: those who deny that there is a resurrection. Well, there was good reason for their being named Sadducees because they were without hope – they were sad-you-see.

The Sadducees, like others, are going to Jesus, not to learn anything whatsoever, but to prove a point and show Him to be a worthless prophet. They come with this story of the widow who marries various brothers and after the seventh dies, leaving no heir to the original brother, the widow says, thank God that is over.

This process of one brother marrying the widow of another brother to ensure he has heirs is found in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 25:5-10 if you would like to look it up.

This kind of marriage is called a Levirate marriage. In many positive ways it served as a protection for the childless widow who would have no one, being childless, to provide for or protect her. This type of marriage also ensured the survival of the clan.

What is interesting here is that by Jesus’ time the practice of levirate marriage was out of favor and had declined in practice. That being the case, the Sadducees question was strange in and of itself – and it gets stranger.

The Sadducees’ question becomes even stranger when you consider how manufactured it was. It was a reductio ad abusurdum argument, trying to prove that there cannot possibly be a resurrection because all these absurd machinations of marriage and childlessness would come to chaos in eternity, everyone looking for a spouse and wandering about heaven calculating who it might be. As such, reduced to, the resurrection is absurd.

Here Jesus, while not wasting time on their absurd question, cuts to the chase. And to really understand this we need to know that the Sadducees only believed in and followed the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch. 

Jesus says: That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush. The very books you follow, and say are the only books, right in their very middle, themselves prove the resurrection. You haven’t even read what you claim to believe.

Brothers and sisters, take time to study scripture. Know what God says and what He promises. Life in Him is forever. In that, be alive in God and live forever.

Working to change.

But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.

Lent calls us to change, to reform. Lenten discipline presupposes that we need reform. We may need reform because we lack an understanding of God’s call, or our religious practice has become just habit, or we are just going through the motions without knowing why, or just maybe, we are comfortable and do not want to change or reform.

Throughout our shared Lenten journey, we are studying the means and methods by which we achieve conversion, change and reform. We study to help us reset our lives, right set our expectations, and get to the change and reform necessary to be ardent and faithful livers of Jesus’s gospel way.

In the first week of Lent, we focused on fasting. We learned that as we fast from what pulls us away from the gospel, we feel Jesus filling the space we cleared with new longing to live the gospel.

Last week we studied giving. Giving or sacrifice is a call from God that awaits a response. If we respond without holding back and grumbling, God recognizes our devotion. He not only sees it, but also blesses us more than we could ever imagine.

In the coming weeks we will continue with the subjects of prayer and proclamation. Today we focus on study.

Study is a long-valued Lenten tradition. In these forty days we are called to increase our study of the bible, and beyond that to find worthy reading materials that help us to understand God better. That reading may be a work by a Church Father, a study on the life of a saint, strategies for growing the kingdom through evangelism (i.e., how to talk to others about Jesus), or perhaps a book on how a person overcame a struggle we may face to become a more faithful follower of Jesus.

God had commanded the Jewish people to keep His word ever in their thoughts and before them. That is why faithful Jewish people recite the Sh’ma Yisrael twice a day: “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one” which references to the Ten Commandments we heard today. They place the Sh’ma on the doorpost of their homes fulfilling the command to, “write the words of God on the gates and doorposts of your house.” The Orthodox wear Tefillin on their heads and arms, containing verses from the Torah.

Faithfulness requires us to do more than recite words or place them in our homes. We are called to go deeper into God’s word, His direction for our lives, to cherish His word and to put it into action. Let us resolve to do so by our study this Lent, and by study know God’s nature even better.