Summary: Saints Triumphant sermon - based on the answer to the Sadducees challenge whether there was a resurrection or not.
November 18, 2001 Luke 20:27-38
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 have children 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 that age 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 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.”
How would you like to live under a religion that believed in no life after death - no resurrection? In one sense, I guess you wouldn’t have to worry about eternally frying in hell. That would be nice for some. But what hope would you have for the future? And what would your real purpose in life be? What need would you have of any religion? What a sad state of existence it would be if we didn’t believe in a life after death.
But that’s what the Sadducees believed! They only accepted the first five books of the Bible as truly being “God’s Word”. They denied the existence of angels and demons. And so the Sadducees approached Jesus with a question that they felt would prove there is no life after death - or at least get him to question it. So today Jesus answers the question -
How Do I Know There Will Be Saints in Heaven?
When this action takes place, Jesus was already in the third year of his public ministry. As a matter of fact he was only three days from his crucifixion. By this point in His ministry, the spiritual leaders of the time - the Sadducees and the Pharisees had had quite enough of Jesus. He had humiliated them. He had proven them to be wrong. In their eyes, he had stolen many of their followers with his “romantic” ideas of what Judaism is really about. So they finally decided to attack him with this one last round of questions to try and nail him to the wall. They were already 0 for 2, and this would be their last shot.
The Sadducees thought they had the perfect scenario. It was based on a provision called Levirate Marriage. Levirate Marriage stipulated that if a man died childless, his brother was under obligation to marry his widow and have children in his brother’s name. So their scenario had the same woman marrying seven different brothers, with all of them dying. Now, “who’s husband would she be in heaven?” Here’s their logic. One man can marry one woman according to God’s Law. This law provides for one man to be married to one woman at a time. But if there’s a resurrection - that all gets messed up - because then all of the brothers would be alive. Then one man could not be married to one woman, or six of the brothers would have to divorce the one woman so the one could stay married to her in heaven. It would be impossible to figure it out. The Sadducees envisioned Jesus having a hard time trying to explain it - saying, “well, since the oldest one gets the inheritance, he would get the woman,” or something that would be embarrassing to try to explain.
But Jesus wasn’t embarrassed of God’s Word - he wasn’t ashamed to exclaim the truth. Instead of embarrassing Jesus, Jesus embarrassed them. Matthew tells us that Jesus started out with a rebuke, you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God!, Jesus said. “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.”