Whose Side Are You On?


November 02, 2016

By Shepard Parsons.

Scripture:  Luke 20:27-38 (NRSV)

Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, 'Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.'

Jesus said to them, 'Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die any more, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.'
 

Reflection: 

The Sadducees really don't care about the resurrection, nor are they concerned about the widow. Their issue is with the Pharisees whose influence was growing in the countryside and who hoped for the resurrection. Whose side are you on, Jesus? It's politics as usual. Whose side are you on?

There was never a moment in Jesus' life when he was untouched by the politics of his day. He was born within the context of Roman imperial power and its first taxation. Foreign emissaries came to honor the newborn king, and King Herod killed hundreds of children in an attempt to be rid of this child. Jesus and his family fled to Egypt as political refugees. Jesus' entire life was spent bringing into community those whom Rome and the Judean elite had cast away: women, children, the sick, the sinner, foreigners and all who found themselves outside of human fellowship. Towards the end Jesus entered Jerusalem as a king. He cleansed the Temple, upsetting the economic order. Community leaders believed his politics to be dangerous. His authority was questioned; his allegiance to God was tested. Throughout his ministry Jesus relied on the grace and courage of others for food and shelter, to hide and protect him from the authorities and, finally, to bury him. Jesus was not murdered. He was executed by the full power and authority of the Roman Empire; executed in a fashion reserved for those who threatened Roman domination. Through it all Jesus' love embraced everyone; even those with whom he disagreed, even those whom sought to undo his work, even his torturers. And just when the Roman politicians thought they had the last word the all-powerful, unmerited and never ending Love of God raised Jesus from the grave, freeing us from slavery to sin and death.

The Sadducees present a grotesque case study of a woman married and widowed seven times hoping to force Jesus to take sides on an issue important to them. Politics as usual and, as usual, Jesus does choose sides. He chooses the side of God. Quoting the Torah Jesus says, "Open your eyes." The resurrection is really about God. God is not dead, but living, the God of the living, not the dead. God's love gathers all people from across the ages and holds us dear and close. No earthly institutions will constrain or oppress the resurrected for they are children of God. We will be in relationship with God and each other in ways we cannot begin to imagine. Yes there is a resurrection. It's one of the ways God loves us. It's God's gift of hope that shapes the way we live today. This is the politics of heaven.

In less than a week one of the most important presidential elections of our lives will be held. I expect every one of us to get out and vote. To be faithful is to participate in the broken and imperfect world of politics. When you get to the polling place do not check your faith at the door. Take it with you into the polling booth. Remember how you have been welcomed, healed, and renewed by the love of Christ. Recall how Jesus' love for all drove him to serve those who were hardly loved at all. And then pause a moment. Before you pull the lever, or touch the screen or fill in the dot take a deep breath. Ask for God's forgiveness, for we have all sinned and fallen short of God's glory. Then pray that you may follow the Holy Spirit's lead; now cast your vote.

In joyful expectation of Jesus' coming realm of love and justice,
Shepard
 

Prayer:

Almighty God, we give thanks for your unending love and unmerited forgiveness. Help us to live in the hope of the coming resurrection. This we pray in the name of Jesus, the first born from the dead. Amen. 
The Rev. Shepard Parsons is pastor of the First Church of Christ, Woodbridge. He fully believes Jesus is coming again, which he finds a little scary and overwhelmingly exhilarating.

Spirited Wednesday: November 02, 2016 , by Shepard Parsons.