Summary: Jesus answers the question, Is there an after life? Will people really be raised from the dead?
A Study of the Book of Luke
Sermon # 57
One More Question!
As Jesus taught in the temple one group after another came and took Him to task. First, there are those who came to question his authority to cleanse the temple and to continue to teach daily there (vv.1-2). He defeated them with a counter question, “First, you tell me, Was the baptism of John from God or from men.” (v. 4). When they refused to answer this question, neither did he answer them. Next came those with a deadly political question, “Should we pay taxes to Caesar or not” (v. 22). He defeated them by asking for a coin and after receiving a denarius bearing the image of Caesar said, “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what belongs to God” (v. 25). Now in verse twenty-seven we are introduced to one last group, the Sadducees, who decided they would have to show the others how to put Jesus in his place.
“Then some of the Sadducees, who deny that there is a resurrection, came to Him and asked Him (28) saying: ‘Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother should take a wife, and he dies without children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. (29) Now there were seven brothers. And the first took a wife, and died without children. (30) And the second took here as wife, and he died childless. (31) Then the third took here, and in like manner the seven also; and they left no children, and died. (32) Last of all the woman died also. (33) Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife does she become? For all seven had her as wife.”
Luke helps us to understand who the Sadducees were by saying, they are those “who deny that there is a resurrection.” Furthermore Acts 23:8, states that the Sadducees did not believe in angels or spirits either. In fact they were mainly a political group, although they had control of the high priestly line. They seemed to feel that only the first five books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch) were binding on the Jewish people. At the heart of the trick question was the custom of “levirate marriage,” according to this custom if a man’s married brother died without leaving an heir, he must marry the widow (Deut. 25:5-6).
But as we look at the question they brought to Jesus we should note that in their question, of one bride and seven brothers, there was no real search for the truth. The Sadducees not only did not expect an answer, they did want one. They were asking Jesus about something in which they did not believe. In fact, they hope to stump Jesus and thus demonstrate how foolish the whole idea of resurrection from the dead is, that it is indeed unbiblical and impractical.
The problem presented in the form of a question is of course at its core a sham, however, the issue that is raises is not; “Is there an afterlife? Will people really be raised from the dead?” Life after death that is just Christian escapism! Why don’t Christians just face the truth that this life is all there is? Have you ever heard those kinds of objections raised by the skeptics of our age? The Sadducees were just first century skeptics who did not believe in life after death.
They said that life ended at death. Undoubtedly they considered themselves just hard core realists, who had to combat this nonsense about the resurrection. But perhaps at least part of the answer is that the Sadducees were so comfortable in their day to day lives that they were not concerned with the after life. This is true of most Americans today as well, we are so comfortable in our day to day lives that we tend to forget that our ultimate hope is in heaven. When is the last time you even thought about where you are going to spend eternity? The truth is that everyone is one day closer to eternity than we were yesterday. Someone has said that death is a subject that people spend a lifetime trying not to think about. But death is an inevitable experience that unless the Lord comes, we will all one day face. President Eisenhower once said, “I am interested in eternity. I am going to spend the rest of my life there.”
Jesus begins his answer to the question in verse thirty-four, “Jesus answered and said to them, The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. (35) But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; (36) nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection”