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Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost

November 10, 2019 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Pentecost

Passage: Luke 20:27–20:40

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Luke 20:27-40
Date: November 10th, 2019; Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost; Series C
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • In our Gospel reading we heard that a group of Jewish people, called the Sadducees, approached Jesus with a question.
  • Their question didn’t come from curiosity or a desire to actually learn something.
  • The Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection of the body to life everlasting, so they tried to trap Jesus by using a method of argument called reductio ad absurdum, which is Latin for “reduction to absurdity”.
  • This method of argument attempts to disprove a statement by showing that it inevitably leads to a ridiculous or absurd conclusion.
  • You take an idea too far, and by taking it to the extreme, you lead people to question the idea itself.
  • This form of argument is sometimes used by parents.
  • For example, a teenager goes along with the crowd with a prank at school and ends up suspended.
  • The next day, as he tries to explain what happened, his mom shuts down the conversation by saying, “If everyone else were jumping off a cliff, would you do that too?” 
  • This is an example of Reduction to Absurdity.
  • The idea, “I do something because everyone else is doing it,” is taken and pushed to the extreme of jumping off of a cliff. 
  • But what about eating healthy, or exercising, or helping others because everyone else is doing it? 
  • Well, then the idea of following others isn’t so absurd. 
  • The Sadducees tried to trap Jesus with this approach and they likely had that smug look of “Gotcha!” written all over their faces after asking their question.
  • But their trap didn’t work the way they were hoping. 
  • They began, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.” 
  • This is true - it’s called the “levirate,” a custom of the ancient Hebrews that obligated a brother to marry his brother’s widow if he had no heirs. 
  • This practice seems strange to us today, but lineage and family trees and offspring were very important in Old Testament times.  
  • This goes back to the promised Saviour who would be a descendent of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 
  • The Sadducees weren’t interested in Jesus’ opinions on marriage and the levirate laws, but wanted to challenge his views on the resurrection of the dead. 
  • So what do you think Jesus?  There were seven brothers, who by fulfilling their obligatory levirate duty, all ended up marrying the same woman.  If there’s a resurrection - whose wife is she?  How is God going to sort out all of these things?
  • They took the idea of the resurrection and reduced it to the absurd with this purely hypothetical scenario.
  • But with it, they figured they had Jesus cornered.  
  • They thought he would have to answer in some way that denies the resurrection, or marriage, or Moses.  Then they would have him!
  • But Jesus sees right through it. 
  • He has a knack for going past the question to the heart of the questioner. 
  • He answers that marriage is for this age, for this temporal life - it is, “until death do us part.”  
  • Marriage is the context in which children are conceived and raised. 
  • It is the foundation of family and home and is the building block of civilization and society. 
  • It is a picture used often in the Bible of Christ and the Church. 
  • It is a fence built around the one-flesh union between husband and wife, the closest and most intimate union there is in this life. 
  • But in the end, marriage is only for this life. 
  • In the resurrection, Jesus says, “they neither marry nor are given in marriage.”
  • If the resurrection were just a repetition of this world, then it would be ridiculous and absurd indeed. 
  • But the resurrection is different.  It is a world without death.
  • So, laws like the levirate that deal with preserving life and preserving one’s name are no longer needed - because no one will die. 
  • After teaching this to the Sadducees, Jesus then turns to our reading from the Old Testament where the Lord revealed himself as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. 
  • The Lord is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him. 
  • When Moses encountered Christ in the burning bush - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were long dead. 
  • But, God reveals himself in the present tense, “I am” and declares, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
  • “But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush” Jesus teaches the Sadducees.
  • And he later teaches about himself, “I am the resurrection and the life..He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).
  • This is our certain hope for the future, our certain hope in the face of death. 
  • In Jesus, there is life - eternal life. 
  • This promise was reduced to absurdity when Jesus was crucified. 
  • The One who brings life to the world died on a cross. 
  • But Jesus rose from the dead to defeat death and give life to all who trust in him. 
  • Eternal life is yours in Christ. 
  • And that is not an argument to reduce to an absurdity. It is a promise to receive and live in.  
  • "Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).  Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

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