Outreach exists to "Connect
Kids to Community and Communities to Kids." Have you considered having a
mission week for your church? This
is one of my favorite "in-depth" ways of reaching out with the Great News of
Jesus Christ. Activities can include:
Interactive and participative praise concerts for children,
youth, and families;
Morning staff studies on "Authentic Leadership"
and "Building a Culture of Intentional Courtesy"
Brown-Bag Luncheon Studies for your community
focusing on our scriptural call to justice;
In-service for your volunteers or teachers on reaching
today's youth and families with the vibrant, living, message of Jesus
Evening parent seminars based upon two of
Jerry's recent books: "Significant Conversations: Helping Young People
Live Meaningful Lives," and "The Deepest Longing of Young People; Loving
Local networking with other area groups (secular
or faith-based) regarding prevention and intervention strategies for
high-risk and incarcerated youth;
Humorous and thought-provoking school assemblies
(secular or religious, elementary through high school).
Outreach is primarily
supported by your donations and by trainings, workshops, retreats and concerts.
[Lk 20:27] Now there came to Him some of the Sadducees (who say that there is no resurrection),  and they questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that IF A MAN'S BROTHER DIES, having a wife, AND HE IS CHILDLESS, HIS BROTHER SHOULD MARRY THE WIFE AND RAISE UP CHILDREN TO HIS BROTHER.  “Now there were seven brothers; and the first took a wife and died childless;  and the second  and the third married her; and in the same way all seven died, leaving no children.  “Finally the woman died also.  “In the resurrection therefore, which one's wife will she be? For all seven had married her.”
 Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage,  but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage;  for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.  “But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB.  “Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to Him.” (NAS)
[Lk 20:27] Now there came to Him some of the Sadducees (who say that there is no resurrection)...
Now there came to Him...
If Jesus had only stayed in Galilee…
He would have lived a life of comfort. Galilee might have become a center of compassion while Jerusalem would have remained the center of ritual. Jesus could have set up his own corner shop and given advice to kings. He could have made an incredible living just healing daughters and sons of the wealthy. If Jesus had only remained in the region of Galilee…
There have been many times (as I have followed the story of Jesus down this tough road to Jerusalem) that I wish that he would have turned back. I wish he had turned back before he told me I have to give up everything to follow him. I wish he had turned back before he told me to hate family and friends. I wish he had turned back before he told me that I have to pick up my cross in the same way that he was going to pick up his in Jerusalem. I could be a great Galilean follower – but I would never brag about my faithfulness on the road to Jerusalem.
There are many churches and many Christians who try to worship the Galilean Jesus and ignore the Jerusalem Jesus. We have this tendency to cling to the sayings of Jesus and about Jesus – but we don’t really want to follow Jesus out of Galilee and down to Jerusalem. We don’t want to go through the intense confrontations, the betrayals of Maundy Thursday and finally to the cross on Good Friday. Yet, the cross is the inevitable precursor of the resurrection. Staying in Galilee keeps us in comfort and safety; but there is no salvation in comfort and safety. Salvation is found on the road to Jerusalem and not in the comfort of Galilee.
“Now there came to Him...”
This reading is but one of so many constant confrontations thrown at Jesus as he gets farther from the comforts of Galilee and nearer to the cross of Jerusalem. He didn’t have to seek confrontations – they “came to him.”
We can trust we are getting closer to the cross when our lives are filled with increasing turmoil and decreasing comfort. Closing in on the cross means that your heart breaks more frequently, your body is pushed harder and Satan’s attacks pierce deeper; yet the presence of God is comparably greater (remember the gift of the transfiguration as Jesus began his march towards salvation)?
Am I closing in on the cross or clinging to the comforts of Galilee? Am I stretched further but blessed deeper each day that I awake on this earth? As I look at the day ahead of me and say, “there came to Jerry,” will it be the comforts of Galilee or the cross of Jerusalem that I expect to encounter?
The Sadducees were the deists and skeptics of their age. No one really knows where this sect originated yet they were as prevalent as the Pharisees (Acts 23:6) and were very influential members of the elders. Most likely, they sprang up under the influence of the Greeks and attempted to adapt Judaism to Greek cynicism; proceeding to write the miraculous out of Scripture.
They had a long history with Jesus beginning with their attacks on John the Baptist who said to them: “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Mt 3:7.) They were also a constant presence in the condemnation of the Lord (Mt 16:21; 26:1-3,59; Mk 8:31; 15:1; Lk 9:22; 22:66) and later would intensely attack the growing church over the resurrection of Christ (Ac 2:24,31,32; 4:1,2; 5:17,24-28). Our Lord called them “hypocrites” and “a wicked and adulterous generation” (Mt 16:1-4; 22:23) and they seemed to serve as the “religious hit men” of the Jerusalem elders. They were the card that the religious leaders played whenever they wanted to undermine a new prophetic “upstart” that might sway the people away from adhering to the strong religious class-ism which benefited the elite of Jerusalem. They were sent first after John and then after Jesus.
How is it that such “hypocrites” were even given a place among the religious leaders of Jerusalem? Their cynicism held influence over the religious elite to the point where our Lord was not crucified for religious reasons; but for pragmatic ones.
 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all,  nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.”
However as they gained their influence, one thing is certain: When cynics hold sway over visionaries a generation has lost its purpose. Cynics now ruled Jerusalem and the heart of the faith was gone. Religion had become politics and the religious were politicians. Faith had lost the miraculous because the “religious” had found cynicism more convenient. God was dead and the law had replaced Him. However, the law without God was “pragmaticism” – a religion that was manipulated by the needs of the ruling class.
The Sadducees – and their influence – represent what happens when a people choose cynicism over faith and sarcasm over joy – they miss the miraculous and dismiss the prophetic. Even more, they seek to silence the faithful and their greatest tool is cynicism.
Where am I in this continuum of characters? Am I a prophetic voice that cynics seek to silence or am I the cynic that silences the visionaries? Have I diluted my faith of the miraculous and covered the loss with the biting inebriant of sarcasm? Am I a deist hiding among the faithful, a sniper of the prophetic using whispers and gossip to undermine the visionary heart or am I a visionary standing firm in spite of the Sadducees of this age?
Cynicism and sarcasm have become the impecunious substitutes for joy in our culture. They are the twin sisters that we have chosen over vision and wisdom. Sadducees are still fresh among us and increasingly powerful. Jesus would not tolerate the Sadducees in his life – he won’t tolerate them in his eternity. Whatever in my life that resembles a Sadducee; let me root it out today!
 and they questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that IF A MAN'S BROTHER DIES, having a wife, AND HE IS CHILDLESS, HIS BROTHER SHOULD MARRY THE WIFE AND RAISE UP CHILDREN TO HIS BROTHER.  “Now there were seven brothers; and the first took a wife and died childless;  and the second  and the third married her; and in the same way all seven died, leaving no children.  “Finally the woman died also.  “In the resurrection therefore, which one’s wife will she be? For all seven had married her.”
“In the resurrection therefore, which one’s wife will she be? For all seven had married her.”
The Sadducees, though powerful, were basically a one-trick pony. In this conversation with Jesus, they show their trump card which was to take a teaching they disagreed with and to draw it out to a ridiculous conclusion. In this case they use the law called “Levirate Marriage” (see Gen 38:1-26, Dt 25:5-6, and Ru 3:1-4:12) which stated that if a man were to die without a son, his unmarried brother (or nearest male relative) should marry the widow and produce children. The first son of this marriage would be considered the heir of the dead man resulting in an heir for the family which would have the effect of guaranteeing that the family would keep their land.
The Sadducees not only disavowed the resurrection of the dead and the immortality of the soul, but they also discounted any teaching that wasn’t directly from the Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy). To the Pharisees constant derision, the Sadducees also denied all of the oral “Traditions of the Elders.” Finally, they denied the resurrection of the body because they could find no evidence of this teaching in the first five books of scripture.
They did not approach Jesus with a desire to engage in conversation or seek deeper knowledge. The intent of their questioning was very obvious; they sought to make a fool of God’s Son on the field of mental gymnastics. Their intent is revealed in their response when Jesus reveals to them their erroneous interpretation of scripture. When a fool is confronted with evidence that his life has been built upon false beliefs, he seeks to destroy the one who brought out the truth. The fool does not seek truth; he seeks a following – at any cost. He wants adherence and he will change the information he receives and even attack the truth if it is counter to his beliefs.
When a wise man is confronted with the evidence that his life has been built upon false beliefs; he lays down his falsehood and changes his course.
Perhaps the greatest sin of man is deception and our greatest deception is to build personal “religions” around our falsehoods. Last night, at jail, I asked the guys; “What can we do to keep from deceiving ourselves?”
Their answers were fairly simple: 1) Pray, 2) study scripture, 3) serve the vulnerable, and 4) confess your sins to a group that will passionately hold you accountable to the truth. This is what will keep us from “falling back to Galilee” and focus us on continuing bravely to Jerusalem. This is what will sustain us when “they come to us.” This is what separates the fool from the wise man.
 Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage,  but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage;  for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”
“Those who are considered worthy…”
This is a difficult reading – especially if we take it out of the context of the overall reading. All too often, scriptures are horribly misinterpreted because they are quoted outside the context of their circumstances. This reading is not a condemnation of marriage nor does it extol celibacy. It is a clear statement of the natural progression of love for a Christian. The closer we get to God – the less possessive we are in our relationships.
This reading is not a condemnation of marriage; it is a blessing of true love. True love doesn’t implode and cannot die. True love makes us increasingly like the angels; spiritual beings totally focused on serving God’s will. True love makes us into beings of light, his light.
The Sadducees could not comprehend this. Their beliefs made them irrelevant to Christ. Their idea of love diminished the self, each time the woman in their illustration married, the concept of resurrection became more and more ridiculous to them. She was chattel, property; each time that she was passed on to another man the Sadducees claimed that she would be increasingly worthless to her new husband on earth and her old husband in heaven.
Is that my image of love? Does it include possession? Is it something that “uses us up?” Do we consider people more foolish the more they give themselves away?
Lord, please help us to understand love through your eyes; a love that is increasingly deeper and wider.
 “But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB.  “Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to Him.”
“Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to Him.”
If we understand that God is love and that love is ever-widening and ever-deepening than we can begin to understand the eternal nature of God and see it evidenced in every breath of scripture and every act of creation. The Sadducees chose a different standpoint than God’s reality and proceeded to build a religion around it. Their god ruled over the dead, their god was as pragmatic as they were, their god offered no hope, just a shifting moral ground that changed with life’s circumstances. When truth was in contrast to their religion, their god, and their circumstances, they sought to silence the truth through ridicule and finally state-sanctioned murder.
Through years of scrupulously searching scriptures, they could never find a passage that contradicted their mindset. They were so sure of themselves and their beliefs. How could this be? How could there be thousands of Sadducees over dozens of decades – all of them among the Jews finest scholars – and yet, not one of them could find the passage that Jesus quotes “off the top of his head?”
All I have to do to understand the answer to that question is realize how often my opinions have made me blind to God’s truths.
Just as the Sadducees did not approach Jesus for clarity, they in turn, did not approach scripture for answers. They approached scripture to back up their ideology and conveniently left out the scripture that might contradict their beliefs. Yet, Jesus dismantles their beliefs in one sentence.
Jesus quotes from Exodus 3:6: He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
God is “I AM” [HSN595 Ánokiy] God [HSN430 Élohiym]; the exceeding God, the God who Is, Was, and Will be. Ánokiy Élohiym does not mean “I was the God of your father, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” It means “I AM.” For God to be “I am” he must also be “I was” and “I will be.” That also means that those who are “in God” are: “Am, was, and will be.”
In one sentence, Jesus dismantles the false beliefs of the Sadducees. In one sentence, our Lord reveals the omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent breadth and depth of the Exceeding God, the Eternal God. In one sentence, Jesus offers liberation to the Sadducees from their false beliefs – but do they see it as freedom? Obviously not, they scramble back to the Jerusalem counsel in order to sign our Lord’s death warrant.
At the heart of this story is the question: What will we do if the truth as Christ reveals falsehood in my ideology?
Will the truth set us free or plunge us into darkness and rage? Will we be liberated with humility – “Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God” – or seethe with anger? Will we join the religion of cynics or seek the faith of angels?
The New Testament Greek Lexicon based on Thayer’s and
Smith’s Bible Dictionary plus others; this is keyed to the large Kittel and the
“Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.” These files are public domain.
The Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon is Brown, Driver,
Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon; this is keyed to the “Theological Word Book of the Old
Testament.” These files are considered public domain.