The wisdom of saying… nothing.

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Mark 12:18 Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, saying, 19 “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no child, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. 20 There were seven brothers; the first married and, when he died, left no children; 21 and the second married the widow and died, leaving no children; and the third likewise; 22 none of the seven left children. Last of all the woman herself died. 23 In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had married her.” 24 Jesus said to them, “Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the story about the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is God not of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.”

Here we see another attempt by the religious authorities to trap Jesus into saying something controversial. Seeing the trap for what it is, Jesus refuses to answer the question, but rather reframes the question in such a way that the questioner looks foolish. As we will see later in this gospel, the authorities eventually give up this “testing” tactic and begin plotting for Jesus’ death.

Seems to me this tactic of asking loaded questions in hopes of eliciting a controversial answer is alive and well today. Reporters do this all the time. Experienced public figures (politicians, athletes, entertainers, etc) quickly learn to respond to a question by not actually answering the question asked, but rather the question they wish had been asked. I don’t always like this practice, but I understand it.

As for me, I’ve learned to better recognize when I am asked an intentionally provocative question. People want me to take one side or the other. Are you for us or against us?! In my younger years I would usually take the bait – and then spend way too much time going back and forth with someone. Not helpful. These days I will usually choose to not respond at all. Saying nothing is usually better than saying the wrong thing. That’s not easy for an extrovert like me.

Lord Jesus give us wisdom to know when to answer and when not to answer. Amen.

 

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