November 20, 2019
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
27 Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 28 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”
34 Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37 But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”Luke 20-27-38
You cannot deny it. If you went into the sanctuary this morning, the place where we normally hold church, you would smell it. The smell is undeniable, whether you are from the country, the suburbs or the big city, something crawled under the church and died. This morning we are continuing in the season of End Time and today we celebrate the Sunday called “Saints Triumphant.” Today we talk all about heaven, the resurrection and eternal life. It seems almost appropriate that a creature at the end of its life died in the church so that we could use it as an illustration this morning. We as God’s people, who believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead are not worshiping in a place that reminds us of death, but we are in a new place, a place of life. Today in our reading from Luke 20, a group called the Sadducees denied there was life after death, but Jesus told them the truth about God, 38 “he is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”
This morning it is easy to make the distinction between life and death. Again, if you walked into the church you would be reminded of death but sitting in here, we are thankful that God has blessed us with a church campus with multiple buildings allowing us to worship him with only those who are living. Today it is easy for us to see the difference between a place of life and a place of death, but things were not so visible at the moment the Sadducees confronted Jesus in our reading from Luke 20. The Sadducees were a religious sect who among other things denied: life after death, heaven, angels and the inspiration of Scripture. Therefore, they were against Jesus’ teachings and hoped to catch him off guard with a question about the resurrection. They gave him a hypothetical situation about a man who married a woman and then died. 28 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?” The Sadducees believed they had Jesus trapped by their question. In their minds, there was no way for Jesus to give a satisfying answer. Plus, there was no way to prove whatever answer Jesus gave because you can’t jump between this world and the next as if walking between two buildings.
Though their intentions were evil, Jesus used the Sadducees’ question to reveal the wonderful truth of the resurrection to eternal life in heaven. There are a few different ways Jesus could have responded to the Sadducees. Jesus could have ignored them by unfriending them. Or, he could have recorded their arguments, then created a few memes and gifs to show how foolish their arguments were. Finally, he could have called on his angels to fight against them and blast them into oblivion, but he did not do any of those things. The Sadducees were wrong and challenged Jesus, and Jesus listened, then did not debate, but simply stated what God’s Word had to say in response to their question. 34 Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage.” With their question addressed, Jesus then moved on to share how wonderful the resurrection and eternal life in heaven will be.
Jesus’ answer revealed there are differences between life now and life in heaven. Here people are born, and people die, but in heaven there will be no more births and no more death. In heaven, there will be no need for the blessing of creating life God intended to give through marriage. In heaven, we will also be free from the pain of death and all the evils of this world as God told the prophet Isaiah in our reading from Isaiah 65, 17 “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. 19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.” For those who deny the resurrection, eternal life and heaven, they also deny all the good waiting there. They are also left in all the bad of this world and are stuck trying to make the most of this life.
You and I are also guilty of denying the resurrection. You and I are like the Sadducees when we live as if we were not God’s children waiting confidently in the resurrection. We reveal how much more concerned we are about this life than the next when we spend more time deciding between subscribing to and what to watch on Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV, YouTube TV and Disney Plus, rather than time opening our Bibles and listening to what God has to say to us. We reveal our trust in what we can see rather than what God promises when we spend more time looking at gravestones and wondering what could have been, and less time looking at the empty cross and wondering what it will be like to be reunited in heaven. Jesus said in John 14, 3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” You and I are looking forward to joy and peace in heaven, and that means we will be there someday.
Joy and peace are waiting for us in heaven through our Savior Jesus because we are God’s children now. The Sadducees asked a question about marriage to try and trap Jesus, but he used it to talk about our relationship as God’s children now. Our families will look different in heaven, but those relationships are the ones that will last forever. Jesus said that you and I, and all believers, will no longer marry in heaven. He also said, 36 “and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.” You and I are God’s children as we hear in John 1:13 “children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” We are God’s children by faith through baptism because God chose you and I to be his people. And, we also hear that what we will be in heaven will be far better than what we are now in 1 John 3:2 “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” In heaven, our bodies will be new, glorified bodies that will never die; we will never grow weak, tired, depressed, anxious, lonely, sick, etc.
As God’s children, we are part of a family that does not end because what separated us from God will be gone. In our reading from Revelation 22, God revealed to John, 3 “No longer will there be any curse.” He is talking about the curse of sin and death. It is a curse that affects every moment of our lives here in this world. It affects our thoughts, our words and all we do, but in heaven we will be free from this curse as we hear in Galatians 3, 13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.’” Through Jesus’ taking our sins on himself, our curse, on the cross, he died to free us from the punishment of our sins. And, through Jesus, Revelation 22 goes on to say, 5 “And they will reign for ever and ever.” In heaven, we will no longer be slaves of sin, in fact God says we will rule with him in heaven. Rulers because we are victorious over all our enemies through Christ as we read in 1 Corinthians 15, 54 “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We will be all be alive with God in heaven. Jesus reminds us that when God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, he called himself, 37 ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had already been dead for at least 400 years when God said this to Moses. Yet God said, “I am their God.” He did not say, “Well I was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but they all died so I guess I can be your God for a little while.” He told Moses that is still their God because they are alive with him. And for you and me, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses is our God. Those who died in faith are alive with God because he is the living God. One day, you and I will join the family of believers, the saints triumphant in heaven to live with our God forever.
You cannot deny it. The church smelled like a dead animal this morning, but here among God’s people there is only life. This morning we are continuing in the season of End Time and today we celebrate the Sunday called “Saints Triumphant.” Today we talk all about heaven, the resurrection and eternal life because there is no denying them. We are the people of our resurrected, victorious Savior Jesus. And, he says these words to you, 38 “he is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” Amen.