Faithlife Sermons

How Would Jesus Lead? - Part 3: Sacrifice

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Why the Sadducees gave up on the resurrection and why they were wrong to do so.

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Thesis: Make the right sacrifices.
For Kids: Making good choices. Favorite kind of candy - having both makes your stomach hurt.
Leviticus 10:1–3 NRSV
1 Now Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, each took his censer, put fire in it, and laid incense on it; and they offered unholy fire before the Lord, such as he had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord meant when he said, ‘Through those who are near me I will show myself holy, and before all the people I will be glorified.’ ” And Aaron was silent.
Story of early Levites being swallowed up because they offered sacrifices wrong.
Purpose of the Levites: to make sure worship was done and done right.
Pharisees needed Grace
Pharisees needed Grace
Zealots needed Self-Control
One Last political group in Jerusalem were the Sadducees
The Question about the Resurrection
The Question about the Resurrection
The Question about the Resurrection
(; )
27 Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him 28 and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the manb shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; 30 then the second 31 and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. 32 Finally the woman also died. 33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.”
34 Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; 35 but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 36 Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. 37 And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. 38 Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.” 39 Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” 40 For they no longer dared to ask him another question.
If you had a chance to see Jesus face-to-face, and one question to ask, what would it be?
What is the meaning of life?
Why is there evil in the world?
Where did He come up with the idea for the duck-billed platypus?
In all the gospels, the Pharisees ask plenty of questions of Jesus, about laws specifically.
The Sadducees only get one question, and they ask about a hypothetitical woman who was widowed 7 times, and specifically, whose wife she will be in heaven.
You see, the question is a trap, for Jesus, and for us too if we get caught up in the details of marriage here. The truth is, this question isn't about marriage. They could have asked the same question about adopted children who were adopted by seven sets of parents - and who they would belong to in Heaven.
No the one question they are asking is the most important question to them. How can the resurrection be real?
It was their question. It was the one question that defined them as a group.
Years earlier, this group, who had been in charge of keeping the Temple Worship pure, were faced with a question of their own: "Would you be willing to give up your belief in judgment day and the afterlife, if it meant you could keep your church building, keep having gatherings of believers, and keep reading the Bible (minus those passages that talk about judgment and afterlife)?"
Would you?
All the other Jewish groups were run out of town, and the Sadducees became the only group with access to the Temple, to worship, and to the sacrifices that offered forgiveness of sins. Since they were the only show in town, they became incredibly wealthy and powerful, and they were the most trusted by the Roman government - meaning they were the safest from persecution.
Sacrificed part of their faith for their family
Sacrificed for peace in Jerusalem
Sacrificed for a chance for some part of the Jewish faith to live on and not be wiped out by the Roman Army.
John 11:45–50 NRSV
45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, “What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.”
Safe they were, but every day they lived with the question: Did we do the right thing?
So when they met Jesus, they knew exactly what question they needed to ask. They needed to ask if they did the right thing without admitting out loud that they had doubts.
And Jesus answered their question.
Following God is not about preserving a language, diet customs, religious practices, culture, or even a land... because none of that follows us to heaven. Heaven has its own culture, it's own place, and we will be transformed into a new resurrected people.
His response that in heaven, nobody belongs to anybody should have been offensive, but did you notice, no one got upset? He reminded them that God does not care nearly as much about our ways of life as He cares about us ourselves. He reminds us that when we get to heaven, while we may hope to see parents and grandparents and children and all kinds of friends and family - people who carried us and raised us and loved us... we will only belong to the One who created us and held us, not just for a several months or years, but every moment of every day, who knew our deepest thoughts and loved us enough to come and die so that we could come back home. That is the only God worthy of our worship - and His focus, His concern is on us, not our way of life.
The Sadducees sacrificed their hope in the resurrection for the promise of safety and security in this life. The keepers of the sacrifices sacrificed the wrong thing.
Sadducees make sacrifices to preserve a way of life.
Jesus sacrificed His life to save our lives.
Making a difference in the world requires sacrifice, whether it is making a difference in our nation or in the life of a single person. Without sacrifice you cannot accomplish anything but complaining, and even then you are sacrificing opportunities to do good for time and effort it takes you to find someone to complain to.
So. before you think about sacrifices you should be willing to make, take a moment and ask yourself:
What sacrifices am I already making?
Are these the sacrifices I want to be making?
Are these sacrifices based on truth?
Are these sacrifices honoring God? If not, who, or what are they honoring?
Matthew 16:25 NRSV
25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
I don't think we need to fear being hypocrites like the Pharisees. We all fall short and God gives grace to hypocrites who will admit that they don't live up to their own standards.
I don't think we need to fear losing self-control like the Zealots because God will discipline us and set us right again.
I do think we need to be concerned about getting so caught up in preserving our way of life that we fail to see and care for the lives of those around us... many who do not share our way of life and will never be able to because they have not been invited in. I think we need to be fearful of this temptation because, as Jesus said, there will come a resurrection and a judgment day, and we will all stand before Him and some will be put on the left and some on the right, some to punishment and some to reward, and He says the requirement for reward is not keeping the temple doors open, it is what kind of difference we made in the lives of others - because whatever we have done for the least of these, we have done to Jesus Himself. We don't want to find out too late that we have sacrificed Heaven in order to keep our lives the way we like them.
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