27There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, 28and they asked him a question, saying, “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. 29Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. 30And the second 31and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. 32Afterward the woman also died. 33In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.”
34And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. 37But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” 39Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” 40For they no longer dared to ask him any question.  Luke 20:27-40

I cannot help but wonder what Jesus hoped to accomplish in Jerusalem. Certainly as God, he knew that nothing he did, nothing he said, would change the hearts of the Pharisees and Sadducees. And yet he pursues them passionately. Relentlessly. With parable after parable. Responding to their questions and trickery with boldness and truth.

And though it silences them, it does not seem to change them. At least not noticeably. Not outwardly.

Scripture tells us that they no longer dared to ask him any question. It doesn’t say they weren’t still plotting against him. It doesn’t say that they came to believe in him. It doesn’t say that they changed their minds or their hearts or what they believed about the resurrection.

They sit in the presence of Jesus. They hear his words. But rather than absorb them, rather than accept them, they pick and choose what they hear. What they believe.

In fact, they actually take part of what God said in his word and try to use it against him. They don’t believe in the resurrection, but they want Jesus to explain it to them. Rather than explaining it to them, Jesus tells them that God is not God of the dead, but of the living. Including Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Alongside what Moses had to say about brothers and wives, Moses also testified to this: that to God, all are alive.

In many of their run-ins with Jesus, the Pharisees and Sadducees cherry pick the parts of God’s word that works to their benefit. That works to their planned end of trapping Jesus. Of ridding Jerusalem of Jesus. Although they perceive that the parables are about them and that the parables testify against them, they choose not to hear those words.

They listen. But they don’t heed. They don’t hear. When it comes to what Jesus has to say, they have selective hearing.

Sitting here in Jerusalem listening to this interaction between Jesus and the Sadducees, I hear the promise of resurrection and eternal life. But I also hear conviction. I have been a Sadducee. I have been a Pharisee. I have practiced selective hearing.

following Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem (photo by Alex Bruda on stock.xchng)
following Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem
(photo by Alex Bruda on stock.xchng)

Following Jesus, being in a relationship with the Creator, is not easy. It challenges the status quo. It goes against the things of the world. It requires boldness and truth and courage. And so, sometimes it is easier to ignore what Jesus says than to hear his words. Or to heed his commands. Or to respond to what he requests of me.

I haven’t spoken up for those without a voice because it was too risky to my comfortable life.

I haven’t always loved my neighbor as myself because I didn’t like or agree with my neighbor even though that’s not part of the criteria for love.

I have struggled more often than I can count to give up the control of my plans, my dreams, my life to Jesus because I sometimes think I know better what I need.

I haven’t forgiven others right away even though I have been forgiven because what they did is so much worse than anything I’ve done.

I haven’t stood up for truth or shined God’s light in my small corner of the world because I have been too afraid of what people will say about me and I was too afraid that I might lose some of my friends or my reputation or my comfort in this world.

But as I continue this journey with Jesus around Jerusalem, as we approach what is coming, drawing closer to the cross, I cannot help but look Jesus in the eye and acknowledge that sometimes I have refused to hear him when he has called my name. I cannot help but repent and seek his grace, his forgiveness and his second chance. Again.

The cross looms in the distance. Jesus’ death is inevitable.

But right now, here in Jerusalem, his life is vibrant, passionate, laser-focused on the message of his Kingdom. Love flows from him and through him and I count myself blessed to be here, in his company, in Jerusalem.

And I rise to the challenge I read in his life. I rise to the call to be a light, to be a vessel of his light, to be a bearer of his message.

I rise to the challenge to hear everything he says with his life. Not just the things that are easy for me to do. Everything.

Yes, today, I hear everything. Every word his heart speaks to mine.


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