Scripture: Lectionary 502: I Maccabees 6:1-13; Psalm 9:2-3.4,6.16.19. Luke
“God is not the God of the dead but of the living.” (Luke 20: 27). Jesus
refutes the trickery of the Sadducees who bring up the impossible case of a
woman who outlasted seven husbands in marriage and had no offspring! Jesus
cuts through their clever problem by showing he is more in line with the
Pharisees who believe in the resurrection of the body-soul unit after
death. The obstacle of the Sadducees is that they only accepted the Torah
and had no interest in any passages that would open one to the possibility
of life after death. All of the Synoptic Gospels have this confrontation
of Jesus and the Sadducees; John does not for he is reflecting more on who
Jesus is when it comes to life after death and the meaning of resurrection.
We remember that in this part of the Gospel of Luke we are in the last days
of Jesus life as it is recorded in Luke. The crucifixion casts its shadows
upon the narrative as we read Luke with knowledge of Jesus suffering,
death, and resurrection. This mystery of these events are at the heart of
discipleship after the great journey story that Luke gave to us in order to
make us grow enough in discipleship to learn that the hardest part was to
come—suffering, death, and resurrection. These events are essential to the
Paschal Mysteries that we celebrate at the Eucharist each day.
Jesus words take the sting of death away from those who really trust and
believe in who he is. We sometimes fall into the trap of being with the
Sadducees when it comes to the resurrection and what it really means for
the disciples of Jesus who follow him all the way not just on the journey.
Luke shows us that the Herodians, the Pharisees, the scribes, the Sadducees
and the Romans are paving the way toward getting rid of Jesus. Only his
words show us how to overcome some of the opposing questions and taunts.
The inspired words of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are our guides and our
light through the darkness of threatening thoughts about death that we all
must face. Only Jesus’ words can bring us through to the reality of the
afterlife in the realm of God.
Like Paul we need to be one in our union with Christ through our faith so
that we may say with the apostle of the Gentiles, “For me to live is
Christ.” (Philippians 1:21). We turn to John who does not have any
reference to the confrontation of the Sadducees and goes right to the
identity of who Jesus is with the God of the living not of the dead. There
is no identity crisis in the Fourth Evangelist’s depiction of who Jesus is.
Jesus proclaims to Martha who elicits the strongest faith in Jesus about
resurrection—stronger than the male counterpart of Peter’s declaration.
She listens to the words of Jesus:”Iam the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, though he should die, will come to life; and
whoever is alive and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26).
Luke records Jesus’ words that are more centered on the obnoxious example
of the Sadducees. Jesus tells them: “Moses, in the passage about the bush
showed that the dead rise again when he called the Lord, the God of
Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God is not a God of the
dead but of the Living.” (Luke 20:37-38). Even the scribes realized that
Jesus had trumped the absurdity of the Sadducees when they tell Jesus,
“Well said, Teacher.” Amen.