Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Resurrection pt.3 "a God who liberates"

 Matthew 22:23-33 presents to us an encounter that Jesus had with the party of the Sadducees. The Sadducees were the group with much political clout in first century Jewish life, they compromised with the Romans and the High Priesthood was occupied by their own representatives. They were wealthy and aristocratic, you did not become a Sadducee, you were born into this type of group. According to history they did not believe in the body being raised after death (Acts 23:8). Jesus however taught about the resurrection and future judgement. The popularity that Jesus was attaining amongst the people had caused the Sadducees, jealous of their own power, to take notice of this Galilean prophet. On this occasion in Jerusalem at the feast of the Passover they seize the opportunity to present to Jesus a hypothetical scenario which in their own mind was unanswerable, and rendered a belief in bodily resurrection impossible, and in the process would expose a fallacy in Jesus' teaching.
  Jesus responds to this question in a masterful way, not only does he uphold the glorious resurrection truth but he reminds us of the very nature of God. God is a being who will bring liberation to the oppressed.
  Jesus in response to the question, which I hope you will look up and read, answers by saying their error was in not "knowing the Scriptures or God's power", now in one sense these Sadducees knew the Scriptures very well, the question they had presented was actually based upon a Scriptural command. They also were keenly aware of the power which God has, his ability to divide the Red Sea and so forth. Jesus isn't rebuking these Sadducees because they wouldn't have done well in Bible trivia, actually they probably could quote large portions of the writings. For all the knowledge they may have had however they had missed the character of God himself as revealed in those very Scriptures. He is a God who brings his people out of bondage. Jesus in response to the question quotes from the book of Exodus, when God appears to Moses in a burning bush. As Moses begins to interact with God in dialogue, God reveals himself as the "God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob", the patriarchs of the Israelite people. God speaks however in the present tense, "I am", not "I was" even though these men had been dead at this point for centuries, yes they did live even still in his keeping.
  The Sadducees would have instantly recognized where Jesus was speaking from in the Exodus narrative, immediately after God introduces himself to Moses in those words, God then says " I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering". Then God goes on to say he is going to rescue them and Moses will be part of that plan. The Sadducees however had missed in the Scriptures and God's power that God will always act consistent to his character. Just as God had delivered Israel from Egypt, he will reverse death in his creation! Jesus himself is the beginning of that reversal, Jesus was raised from death so that he could "free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death" (Hebrews 2:15).God has and will act in his creation to bring justice and set all things right. God wants to set us free from a life of death now, put off those things that will only bring emptiness and broken lives. "For you have died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory" (Colossians 3:3-4). Live the resurrection life now, allow God's Spirit to live in you and give you strength and bear his good fruit in your life. And we look forward to the day that death is trampled at his feet."Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting? Thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Corinthians 15:55-57).

No comments:

Post a Comment