Posts Tagged ‘Luke’

Wit-nessing

Posted: June 9, 2010 in Uncategorized
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I’ve been reading through Luke in my devotions for the past few weeks, and this morning I’ve enjoyed marveling at Jesus’ responses to the various not-so-innocent questions hurled his way. I can’t help but put myself in the crowd watching these revered scribes and pharisees conspire together to trip Jesus up. My imagination is a little ridiculous sometimes, but while reading through these accounts, I picture these esteemed leaders in their elegant robes all huddled together, hands-over-shoulders like a football team planning the next flea-flicker or double-reverse (trick plays, for you non-sports-fans). “Hands in…On three, HYPOCRITES!” They send out their fearless leader, who generally feigns some respect for Jesus up front in an attempt to make his implication-loaded question sound more innocuous than it is.

Case 1: Luke 20. “Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?””

Just to give a little background, the Jewish people during that time were under Roman occupation and many hated being ruled by the Gentile Romans. The taxes referred to are thought to be a poll tax taken during a census around 5 or 6 A.D. which took stock of all resources and taxed them on those resources. This would have been viewed by the Jews as a form of enslavement to the Roman rule and there was a strong backlash against it (just read the story of Judas of Galilee, who led a revolt of Zealots against this Roman census which ended in him being killed and his followers exiled). Regardless of whether or not this was the particular tax in question, it’s clear the Jews felt strongly against taxation. Just imagine asking someone before a crowd of Patriots in 1773 whether or not it’s right to pay the British Tea taxes. If Jesus answered “yes,” Jewish followers would probably turn on him. If he answered “no,” they could turn him over to the Roman authorities for leading a revolt against taxation. How clever a response to such a loaded question, then, to ask for a coin. Whose face is on this coin? Render to Caesar’s that which is Caesar’s, and render to God that which is God’s. Brilliant!

Case 2: Still in Luke 20. “Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. The second and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. Finally, the woman died too. Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”

Fair enough question, right? Not really. Notice the text says, “Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question.” By asking this question, they were attempting to discount the credibility of the Resurrection of the dead. Effectively, they’re disguising as a question the implication that if there’s a Resurrection, there sure are going to be an awful lot of polygamists running around. Is that what Jesus is promoting, a polygamist kingdom? The question obviously isn’t so innocent, and Jesus is not nearly so naive.

“Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

Some of the teachers of the law responded, “Well said, teacher!” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.”

Don’t Jesus’ responses make you wish you could be there so you could stand up and cheer? Incredible! Let’s be encouraged by the fact that one day Jesus will return, and all the accusing questions we can’t seem to answer will be for naught, as we stand before the Judge in all his glory and splendor, leaving even the most bold accusers speechless.

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