Wednesday, June 15, 2011
There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, and 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. Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. And the second and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. Afterward the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.” And 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 to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to 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 bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him any question. Luke 20:27-40
We are all tested in many ways. I was never fond of standardized testing, hating the #2 pencils routine and all that goes along with it. General Ordination Exams gave me a fright, as did qualifying exams for my PhD and the dissertation defense. Being able to answer well under pressure seems to be something that we are all expected to do, and yet none of us revels in the experience - except for maybe those who are doing the testing. My patience has been tested in the past two weeks as we have had an internet connection less than 20% of the time and all of that during non-waking hours. We humans are sorely tested by many things, and even though folks say "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger", I am of the opinion that many have welcomed death rather than take another test or call for the internet repair service one more time.
Jesus is tested by the intellectual elite of the religious leaders. These were the guys who spent their days dreaming up tough questions to entangle small minded religious leaders and to ferret out those who didn't know who God was, let alone understanding the mind of man. Jesus answers well, in the opinion of the testers. He gets to pass go, go onto the next level (whatever they were drumming up for the next round), and have a moment of peace. Unfortunately, his well answered question about marriage ended up becoming a defense for clergy celibacy many generations later. Testing is cruel enough, making more of a good answer than anyone can know, seems rather incomprehensible.
Today, after struggling we many things, we can all admit that we are put to the test in many ways. Throughout our lifetime we find our selves facing challenges - welcomed and unwelcomed. But the good new is that we are never alone during testing. God stands with us as we experience all types of challenges, including the ones that rock us to our core. May we trust that we are never abandoned in these times, rather God is drawing ever closer and holding us tenderly as we struggle on.