MAKING A MOCKERY OF CHRISTIANITY
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
March 17, 2019
27 There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, 28 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. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. 30 And the second 31 and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. 32 Afterward the woman also died. 33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.” 34 And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 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, 36 for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. 37 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. 38 Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” 39 Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” 40 For they no longer dared to ask him any question.
— Luke 20:27-40, ESV
Luke records three of the four crucial Holy Week question and answer sessions between Jesus and the religious rulers of Israel. The first round, led by the Pharisees, was a matter of trickery in which Jesus flipped the coin on them. In the second session, led by the Sadducees, the attacks against the Messiah moved from trickery to mockery.
There are two ways to make a mockery of Christianity. One is from the outside in, whereby those outside the faith, atheists and agnostics and adherents of other religions, poke fun at some of the fundamentals of the Christian faith. The other is from the inside out, when so-called Christians deny cardinal doctrines with their lips or betray Christian virtues with their lives. Which one do you think makes more of a mockery of Christianity?
It is always the inside job that does the most damage. This is the true tragedy, humanly speaking, of Holy Week. The Romans would have never touched Jesus if He had not been mocked and betrayed by those who claimed to have the same faith in the same God.
By no means were the Pharisees and Sadducees Christians. But at the time of Christ’s ministry, as the Old Covenant was closing and a New one opened (ref. Hebrews 8:13), all of them like Jesus would have claimed to be God-fearing Jews, children of the one true and living God, and keepers of the holy flame of Holy Scripture. Jesus sincerely embodied true faith in the true and living God. The religious rulers, however, made a mockery of it.
They Mocked Christian Doctrine
“Sadducees, those who deny there is a resurrection”
While the Pharisees would have been the legalistic fundamentalists of their day, their counterparts the Sadducees would have been the theological liberals. Sadducees, typically wealthy and well educated, believed in God and accepted some Scriptures as authoritative on moral and ethical matters.
However, the Sadducees prized worldly wisdom above the sole authority of Scripture. Like Thomas Jefferson after them who tore any references to miracles and the deity of Christ out of his Bible, the Sadducees had no room for miracles, angels, and other such supernatural particulars, including life after death. They did not believe in the resurrection, so they were sad, you see?
This whole question and answer session with Jesus was designed by them to make fun of the belief in the resurrection and eternal life, a subject which Jesus had taught repeatedly. In other contexts they also attacked the doctrines of justification by faith and the inspiration of Scripture. The Sadducees delighted in mocking doctrines which were cherished by Christ and now are sacred to Christ followers everywhere.
And remember, it was an inside job. Just like the plethora of pathetic church leaders today who do the same. They usually start by undermining the authority of the Bible and make fun of those of us who believe in its infallibility. Then they move on to make fun of cardinal doctrines in the Bible, like the deity of Christ, the doctrine of the Trinity, the miracles that occurred from Moses to the Messiah, substitutionary atonement, and the literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ and eventually all of mankind to either Heaven or Hell.
So, if people should make fun of you because you believe the Bible is true and that all persons will one day be raised and retired to eternal life or death, then know you are in good company, Christ’s company, which is company you definitely want to keep.
They Mocked Christ
It is one thing to make fun of something a person believes, but it is quite another thing to make fun of the person. The Sadducees did both to Jesus. After stating their position against the resurrection forthrightly, they addressed Jesus, like their new friends the Pharisees, by calling him “Teacher.”
The Sadducees had been exposed to the teachings of Jesus for three years. Each time they heard Him, they became more opposed to Him. They ridiculed Jesus, and later Jesus’ followers, by labeling them as uneducated and uncouth, like a rabble of Southerners clinging to their God and guns.
So it was with sarcastic spite that they called Jesus the “Teacher.” They could not dare call Him “Lord,” and did not use the more honorific title of “Rabbi,” which Jesus’ followers often used, but lobbed the table of “Teacher” at Him while asking a question they were sure He could not answer, thereby making Him look stupid and small before a public audience.
How did that work out for them? Again, we stand amazed at the utter failure and spectacular success they achieved within the same week. On this day, the crowed cheered Jesus. In a day or two more, they would be calling for His head, led of course by the Pharisees and Sadducees.
There is no neutral ground in the naming of Jesus. If you cannot sincerely and spiritually call Him “Lord,” then you are mocking Him. If you cannot loyally follow Him as your chief “Rabbi” or “Teacher,” then you are mocking His teachings. Ignoring someone is often the greatest mockery of all.
They Mocked Sacred Scripture
“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.”
In order to properly make fun of Christ and Christian doctrine, the Sadducees had to have a certain tool in their hands. Their tool was a text of Scripture. Typical of skeptics and critics up to our present day, the Sadducees picked a rather obscure (and in the New Covenant, obsolete) passage from the Bible to make their attack, like marauders looking for the weakest post along a protective wall. They also presented a ridiculous, hypothetical application of the text (I’m sure in real life the woman would have been arrested after the third husband died?!).
The place where the Sadducees chose to attack was Deuteronomy 25:5ff, a commandment concerning “levirate (brother-in-law) marriage” issued during Moses’ second giving of the law before Israel’s entrance into the promised land. The Sadducees recited the text sarcastically by conjuring up a one bride for seven brothers scenario.
All Scripture is inspired by God, but some Scripture expires. Levirate marriage was important for Israel during their exodus from Egypt into the promised land, when tribal identity was crucial and necessary for the good of all the people. Levirate marriage played a vital role in the redemption of Ruth, which preserved the bloodline of the Messiah. But like most if not all of the ceremonial and civil laws of the Old Covenant, levirate marriage is by no means binding upon New Covenant Christians. However, God’s moral laws are inspired and irrevocable.
It was and will always be an immoral sin against God and man to commit murder, adultery, lie, or steal. It was and always will be an immoral sin against God and man to commit infanticide, engage in fornication, or practice homosexuality. To do so is to make a mockery of Holy Scripture, the Spirit who inspired it, the Christ who taught it, and the God who has attached His name to it.
It is sad to see many modern day Sadducees brazenly attack the tenets of biblical Christianity. This inside job is splitting churches, destroying once great denominations, and putting a confusing spin on the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Mocked Them Back
“But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush.”
The Sadducees mocked Christianity. They mocked Christ. They mocked Christian Scripture. Now it was Christ’s turn to mock the mockers. He did so by throwing the bush at them (ref. Exodus 3).
The burning bush was an affirmation of the resurrection. Jesus spoke in the present tense of present souls living presently in the presence of God. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were just a few of the faithful covenant keepers who died long before Moses. Christ taught their souls went to be with the Lord at death, and Christian teaching reveals that someday our bodies will be reunited with our souls.
The burning bush was an affirmation of the supernatural; therefore, an avowal of the miracles and deity of Jesus Christ. If God can make a bush burn with fire yet not be burned, I suggest that God can do anything. He can created the world out of nothing. He can calm the storm, walk on water, and raise the dead. He can become a man, a man who was, is, and always will be God.
The burning bush was an affirmation of Scripture. Jesus presented it unapologetically as literal, historical, meaningful, spiritual truth. Moses was no mythological character and the burning bush is no fairy tale. For His glory and for His people God can and will do anything. He can part the Red Sea, make a donkey talk, rain fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah, be born of a virgin, atone for sin on the cross, rise again the third day, and return one day to earth.
The burning bush silenced the Sadducees. Christ mocked the mockers. But Sadducees always bounce back, they come out of the bushes, they infiltrate our churches, and they continue to make a mockery of Christianity even in our day.
Enough about them. What about you? What about your beliefs? What about your lifestyle? Does it portray a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ? Or, does it make a mockery of Christianity?
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Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org