November 7, 2010
I recently had a conversation with a young self-proclaimed Pluralist. We sat at a small, wrought iron table outside a coffee shop discussing life. He boasted of his ability to think freely about the universe, and he tenaciously opposed the possibility that truth was anything other than relative to the individual.
As the conversation progressed, my pluralist friend began constructing a theory that he’d been working on for a while. On one end of the table, a lighter represented birth; on the other end, a pack of cigarettes represented death. They were connected by a straw symbolizing the “ideal” way. The zig-zags in the mesh frame of the tabletop stood for the many roads one might take through life. Though they didn’t always stay in line with the “ideal” way, they often crossed paths, and they all led from birth to death. None of them were evil or wrong, just different. The ideal way wasn’t the “right” way either, it was simply the road one would take if there were no friction in life.
According to his theory, no one could know what came before the lighter or what comes after the cigarettes because no one can remember what it was like before birth, and no one has come back from the dead to explain the hereafter.
At this point I interjected a question: “What if someone who was both before birth and after death became one of us in order that He might tell us truths from eternity?” I then shared with him that the Christian worldview offers such hope. His name is Jesus, the Word who was in the beginning and who was resurrected from the dead.
My pluralist friend couldn’t accept this, though. “I just can’t believe Jesus is the Son of God and that I’m held accountable for my sin. Some people need religion; I don’t,” he said. He was comfortable with his theories and refused to believe there was just one religion with the truth, especially a religion that spoke of sin and judgment, a religion that believed in the resurrection and afterlife, a religion that replaced autonomy with a desperate need for saving grace.
In our text today, we meet another group with similar beliefs; and like my pluralist friend, they just can’t believe Jesus is the Son of God.
I. Hypothetical Deception (
The Sadducees, a group of free-thinking philosophers who denied the possibility of a resurrection or anything supernatural, come to meet Jesus. This group, normally at odds with the Pharisees concerning doctrine, set their differences aside for a more important cause—the extermination of Jesus. They came to set up Jesus, to bring a riddle that couldn’t be answered and prove themselves right and Jesus wrong; or so they thought.
Knowing that the Law of Moses made provision for a man who died without an heir by having his unmarried brother marry the deceased man’s widow, they brought to Jesus a hypothetical situation designed to distort the truth.
Apart from Christ, we also stand in opposition to Him. Our hostility may take various shapes, but it reveals the same arrogance and rebellion that existed in the hearts of the Sadducees. When the holiness of Jesus stands in contrast to the hypocrisy of the depraved, only two things can happen—rejection or repentance.
We live in the midst of postmodern, free thinkers. Plurality is the favored, and no one is allowed to claim absolute truth. Our culture is still in the business of exterminating the One it most desperately needs. Praise God that though “We were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son; much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (
II. The Answer’s Right There (
Jesus responded by turning back to the Law of Moses. The Sadducees brought this supposed problem to Jesus under the assumption that the Law didn’t teach a resurrection. Jesus explained to them that there is neither marriage nor birth in the afterlife. There is no death, because as with the angels, we will be immortal. Jesus turned back to the law, which states God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He isn’t the God of the dead but of the living.
Those listening to Jesus were silenced. They didn’t have the courage to bring more tricks or questions. Jesus had the answer, and Jesus is the answer.
Whether we’re at work, talking with our neighbor or sitting outside a coffee house discussing life, death and the universe, Jesus is the answer. His Word makes sense of the beginning, present and end, for He is the Alpha and the Omega.