Summary: In order for us to understand the resurrection, we have to expand our ideas about who and what God is and what we can do. We can’t limit God with our own limited human reasoning. God continually surprises us. The future he has planned for us is glorious.
Have you ever wondered about what life will be like in heaven after we die? If so, you’ll be interested in what Jesus has to say about the subject in the passage from Luke 20:27-38.
The Sadducees’ question about the resurrection was a ridiculous one because the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection. Their question was designed to draw Jesus into an argument based on Old Testament law. Deuteronomy 25:5 commanded a man to marry his brother’s wife if the brother died. If they had a son, the son was to be named after the deceased brother. The Sadducees asked which of the seven brothers would be married to the widow in the resurrection.
The question reflected the common attribute toward women at that time. Women were seen as being no better than property. They had few rights and could be divorced by their husbands for petty reasons. Widows were in an even worse situation if they had no sons to look after them.
Jesus was quick to poke holes in the Sadducees’ logic. They were talking in human terms, but Jesus and God always talk in heavenly terms. Remember that God’s ways are not our ways and sometimes his ways are hard for us to understand. Heaven is a Godly concept that we can’t easily understand. Jesus does not give us a definite description of what heaven is like, but he does tell us that life in heaven will not be a continuation of life here on earth. Therefore, there will be no marriage, no property or worrying about property. Jesus also says that the only part of our earthly life that will continue in heaven is that we will continue to be children of God. When we die, we will fall into his arms and he will never let us go.
In our earthly life, marriage and procreation are necessary for life to continue. In our heavenly life, we will never die, so we will never have to worry about property and who will inherit our property after we die. We can’t prove the resurrection with rational arguments. We can’t understand things we have not seen. We have to accept them by faith, just like we have to accept God’s Word by faith. Even the world’s greatest preachers have trouble understanding the Word of God. Billy Graham once had a struggle with the truth of God’s Word, but one evening he knelt by a tree stump and declared to God that he would accept God’s Word by faith.
Jesus commented on the Sadducees’ rejection of the resurrection by referring to Moses. The Sadducees only believed in the first five books of the Old Testament, including the books written by Moses. These books did not talk about the resurrection. When God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, he said, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” If there was no life after death, God would have said, “I was their God,” instead of “I am their God.” The phrase “I am” proves that our soul survives physical death and implies that the dead in Christ will rise when he returns.
The Gospel message is not about a continuation. It is about a new life. Jesus’ death and resurrection makes this new life possible. It is better that anything our current life can offer. It is a new birth, a new age, the unveiled sight of God. Heaven is God’s responsibility, not ours. Our responsibility is how we live our lives here and now. We have no idea what’s coming in the next life, no way to imagine how the next life will be even richer than the life we know now. We can’t let go of today’s relationships and trust God to give us new relationships. That limits our ability to accept the good news of eternal life. All life is under God’s direction, so everything we do needs to be seen in light of what God does in our world.
When we stop worrying about life after death, our lives will take on a new direction and a new energy. We will see the world with eyes that see God at our side as we face life’s challenges. It is appropriate that we are hearing this reading at this time in the church year. Three weeks from today we will enter the season of Advent, which begins a new church year. As we conclude our church year and look toward what is to come, our readings focus on what is to come. Christian faith is about living, loving God and loving people.
It’s sometimes hard for us to believe in the big things in life when we have so many little issues and struggles that we let take up lots of space in our lives. When we are obsessed with the little things in life, it’s not easy for us to step back and understand everlasting life. We can only imagine what heaven will be like. Some people imagine it as a beautiful place with endless good times. Others imagine it as a place where there will be no sickness, old age or pain. Our ability to imagine what heaven will be like is our way of expressing our faith that our loved ones are alive and well and are getting along with each other.