Summary: A message on marital relationships in heaven in response to the Saducees question to Jesus.
Are you my wife? Luke 20:27-40
Big Questions...Real Answers Sermon #02
Many of us as youngsters had Dr. Seuss read to us. This morning let me take a few moments and read a portion of one of his books, perhaps you’ll even recognize it: “A mother bird sat on her egg. The egg jumped. ‘Oh, oh!’ said the mother bird. ‘My baby will be here! He will want to eat. I must get something for my baby bird to eat!’ she said. ‘I will be back!’ So away she went.
The egg jumped. It jumped, and jumped, and jumped! Out came the baby bird! ‘Where is my mother?’ he said. He looked for her. He looked up. He did not see her. He looked down. He did not see her. ‘I will go and look for her,’ he said. So away he went. Down, out of the tree he went. Down, down, down! It was a long way down. The baby bird could not fly. He could not fly, but he could walk. ‘Now I will go and find my mother,’ he said. He did not know what his mother looked like. He went right by her. He did not see her. He came to a kitten. ‘Are you my mother?’ he said to the kitten. The kitten just looked and looked. It did not say a thing. The kitten was not his mother, so he went on. Then he came to a hen. ‘Are you my mother?’ he said to the hen. ‘No,’ said the hen. The kitten was not his mother. The hen was not his mother. So the baby bird went on. ‘I have to find my mother!’ he said. ‘But where? Where is she? Where could she be?’ Then he came to a dog. ‘Are you my mother?’ he said to the dog. ‘I am not your mother. I am a dog,’ said the dog. The kitten was not his mother. The hen was not his mother. The dog was not his mother. So the baby bird went on. Now he came to a cow. ‘Are you my mother?’ he said to the cow. ‘How could I be your mother?’ said the cow. ‘I am a cow.’ The kitten and hen were not his mother. The dog and the cow were not his mother. Did he have a mother?” And you’ll remember that in the story, the baby bird eventually though was united with his mother.
In our text today in Luke 20 we have a “Are you my wife?” story and a question for Jesus thrown at Him by His enemies, the Sadducees, Luke 20:27-40. Someone has dubbed this account “one wife for seven brothers.”
As Jesus nears the end of His ministry, wave after wave of religious storm troopers launch their attacks on Him. He’s just silenced a combined assault of the Herodians and Pharisees about paying taxes. It’s as if the Sadducees were watching the whole thing and now that the other group had been driven off, they decide to launch their own assault – and they had a good one – a theological brain teaser. They had probably used it many, many times before. It had always stumped their competitors, the Pharisees, surely it would have the same results with Jesus, this hayseed from Nazareth.
Though the Sadducees were well-known in Jesus’ day, after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., they disappear from history. This is the only time they are mentioned in the book of Luke. Mark also only mentions them once in his record of this same encounter.
a) Who are the Sadducees? The Sadducees were the “blue bloods” of their day, known for their arrogance and rudeness. Apparently, they had become an aristocratic, elite class based on their hereditary advantage. They were descendants of the ancient high priest, Zadok. They had been granted the privilege of serving as priests after the return from the Babylonian captivity. These “Zadokites” made up most of the priests who staffed the Temple. During Jesus’ day the Sadducees had a monopoly on the high-priestly line. Ananias, the high priest was a Sadducee. They also held the bulk of the seats in the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council. The Temple was their source of revenue. They carried on a lucrative business of money-changing and selling animals for the sacrifice. It was their money-changers Jesus threw out of the Temple...Jesus wasn’t exactly on their “top 10 friends” list. Then, they were sympathetic toward Rome – Messiah-talk threatened their status-quo.
b) What did the Sadducees believe? The Sadducees only accepted the Pentateuch; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, as inspired. They denied the existence of angels and demons. They were skeptical of anything supernatural outside of God Himself. Swinburne’s famous line, “That no life lives forever, That dead men rise up never,” could have been written by a Sadducee. It was all so simple for the Sadducee – for them there was nothing beyond. They didn’t believe in the resurrection, the continuation of the soul or even retribution in a future existence. Philosophically, they were committed to “God helps those who help themselves” in the here and now. They didn’t believe God ever intervened and they rejected divine providence, arguing that everything in life is up to man.