That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”
Matthew 22: 23 – 28
How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? This is the question used as the quintessential example of a waste of time question. The issue of how you would even find out the answer to the questions is one problem, but the real issue is: who cares! It’s an irrelevant issue, and not going to impact the average person in the slightest.
It seems like the scholars of Jesus’s day were fond of long philosophical enquiries into obscure hypotheticals. I’m sure to them this question, about brothers and the afterlife, felt very weight and important. But meanwhile there were poor people unsure how to get their next meal, blind and disabled people left to beg in the streets, corruption and extortion happening in the Temple itself. These were the real issues. That’s why when Jesus came to Jerusalem he didn’t spend his time pontificating on lofty philosophy; he healed the blind, turned out the moneylenders and preached Good News to the poor. Jesus could do the philosophy when he needed to, but what he was passionate about was addressing real issues that mattered to people.
Prayer: Living God help me to focus on what’s most important. Thinking through difficult issues can be fun, but when push comes to shove, I want to focus on what matters: helping others, doing the right thing, and serving you. They are my number one priority.
Action: The Sadducees were in love with their own complex philosophy but sometimes simplicity is best. What can you simply today?