The Sadducees were a group of Jews who believed in God but also believed that there was no afterlife; one day they came plotting to make Jesus look foolish with an “airtight argument” for their position:
“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.” Luke 20:28-33 (ESV)
Strange law, huh? But aside from that, in their desire to prove Jesus wrong about the resurrection, it surely seemed like they had Him right where they wanted. And yet, of course, they were wrong – Jesus explained to their dismay that people weren’t actually married in heaven. Instead, they are like angels. Now, that’s fascinating in itself and worthy of a blog or two. (Diane and I, by the way, are planning to be best friends on the other side.)
But the idea of refuting Jesus is also fascinating. How many people today are convinced they can prove the Bible or Christianity wrong? They come up with this or that argument that purports to show how foolish we are to follow a 2,000 year long dead carpenter from Nazareth. And some say that they will only believe if we ourselves can come up with an “airtight argument” to prove God is real and Christianity is true.
And this is where I so appreciate Tim Keller’s idea:
“When God decided to send salvation he didn’t send an airtight argument; he sent an airtight person. He didn’t send an abstract principle; he sent a human being.”
And along those lines, historian Philip Schaff writes about this airtight person:
“This Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science and learning, He shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of schools, He spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, He set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and songs of praise, than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times.”
Again, God didn’t sent an airtight argument. He sent an airtight person. And when people wonder about the Bible or the resurrection or what have you, point them to this incredible person of Jesus Christ. Just as he answered the Sadducees 2 millenia ago, He is the ultimate answer to every question we have.
For Wednesday, July 29th: Luke 21
July 28, 2015 at 7:54 am
Wow, well said. Jesus is the reason I believe.
July 28, 2015 at 9:51 pm
Aggie Vande Zande
July 28, 2015 at 8:54 am
“Jesus, only Jesus”
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July 28, 2015 at 10:11 am
Good Stuff . . . last week of His life and the enemies of the cross try to disprove everything He teaches – they distract with what they perceive to be unanswerable questions and this Son of man filled with the Holy Spirit leaves them speechless – and truly He is thee answer!!! Even today people distract with ?????s and as you said – we should not follow the distraction but point to the answer – Jesus! He is our example in all things.
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July 29, 2015 at 3:12 pm
Rog – Where’s the Keller quote from? Would like to read more … and still owe that email; it’ll come soon! Ben Gildner
July 29, 2015 at 3:27 pm
Ben, it’s from a sermon entitled, ELIJAH AND THE VOICE and delivered at Redeemer on October 13, 1996.
I have Keller’s sermon library and did a search to find this. I had heard him talk on this before but didn’t remember where. Here’s a little bit more of what he said in the sermon…
“When it comes to a life, a story, we get involved with it. We remember it. It’s much more interesting. More importantly, the fact that the Old Testament is basically stories, biographies of real human beings, points to the fact that when God decided to send salvation he didn’t send an airtight argument; he sent an airtight person. He didn’t send an abstract principle; he sent a human being.
That’s the reason why John in chapter 1 of his gospel says, “In the beginning was the Word, was the Logos.” Now that wasn’t particularly controversial because the Greek philosophers for years had said, “Sure. The Logos is the meaning of life, the reason for life, the logic of the universe. Sure, God would have it.” They’d been trying to figure out what it was for years. So when John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. The Logos was with God,” that wasn’t new. That’s wasn’t revolutionary. That wasn’t even controversial.
Then when he says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory …” that was revolutionary. Salvation is a person. The principle has become a human being, you see. The truth has flesh. Now basically all the way through the Bible, instead of giving us abstractions, he gives us flesh. That’s the reason why we learn so much when we really see these flesh and blood people.”
Keller, T. J. (2013). The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive. New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church.
July 29, 2015 at 8:19 pm
Thanks! I’m off to hit “print” on this one for sure … Ben G.