A week or so ago, giraffes starting popping up all over Facebook. Friend after friend after friend changed their profile picture to some sort of giraffe and shortly their after posted some variation on a riddle that they had apparently failed to answer correctly thereby being required by some sort of Facebook Law (part Emily Post part Lemmings-at-cliffs-edge) to change their profile picture to a giraffe. I found the whole thing fairly amusing to watch: seeing what giraffe pictures people stole from the interwebs, seeing how the riddle changed slightly as the days wore on, and seeing how many people were sucked in to this rapidly growing virus. It was almost as if one HAD TO attempt to answer the riddle, but the truth of the matter is you actually don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do on Facebook.
The Sadducees, those faithful Jews who didn’t believe in bodily resurrection from the dead, attempted to suck Jesus in by means of their own ridiculous riddle. This was the game that the Sadducees played, not believing in the resurrection, they were “sad-you-see”, and so they tried to make the one and only life they had on earth a little bit more enjoyable by engaging anyone who would listen in theological debate. Jesus, as an itinerant Rabbi, was just the sort of person that they loved to debate: he was learned, he had a following, and he wasn’t afraid to talk to people.
The problem with Jesus, however, is that he never let people suck him in. He rarely answered a question in a straightforward manner. When he sensed that somebody was trying to catch him in a theological conundrum, he was quick to turn it back on the asker, which is precisely what he does in Luke 20. I encourage you to read my friend Evan’s take on the conversation between Jesus and the Sadducees especially his point about how Jesus’ answer to the Sadducees is very different than it would have been to a group of widows mourning for their husbands:
“When asked a cynical question by a cynical person, sometimes the right thing to do is give an inarguable response. You want me to trap myself in answering your ridiculous question, but I refuse and instead give an answer that leaves you no room for a come-back.”
I won’t get sucked in to riddles on Facebook or from the Sadducees this week, and I hope my preacher friends won’t either.