The human condition is one that, all through our history, has desired to extend our existence behind this present life. In the ancient world, kings assumed that they could immortalize themselves by building great cities and monuments. The above sonnet by Percy Shelly illustrates the grand futility of such a pursuit. The sands of time have a way of grinding all our achievements down.
Try as we do, humanity can’t seem to pull off an extended existence. That reality has had a side-effect of cynicism that also traces its way through history – where the idea of any postmortem existence is dismissed. “This life is all there is, let’s eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”.
We’ll be reading about a group of people, the Sadducees, who were themselves cynical of any notion of life after death. We’ll be reading Matthew 22:23-46.
The Sadducees pose a riddle to Jesus about a hypothetical conundrum which could occur in a resurrection of the dead in a case of levirate marriage. It’s a silly question – and Jesus seems to give a dismissive answer – but in reality, he uses the situation to express an important truth about God’s purpose with humanity. What is the emphasis of v32? What does that tell us about God’s intentions for those who will believe him?
After the Sadducees fail, the Pharisees send in a lawyer. Not that kind of lawyer – but one who was an expert in Jewish law. He asks a very common question debated by the rabbis throughout the history of Israel. What commandment is of supreme importance to God? In Jesus’ answer – what priority to we discover? How does his tethering of the WHOLE law to these two commandments reveal what God’s primary interest is for us as his followers?
In what ways do you find Jesus’ answer comforting? In what ways do you find it challenging? How can we more faithfully embrace and express the primacy of love?
Looking forward to exploring this together on Sunday! See you then!