Summary: The question about the resurrection in Luke 20:27-40 teaches us that there is indeed a resurrection.
Jesus is in his final week of life, which we call the “passion week.”
After his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, Jesus returned to the temple on Monday and drove out the merchants who were selling their wares and obscuring people’s access to God. This enraged the religious rulers, who then engaged in several controversies with Jesus. Commentator Darrell Bock says, “The Pharisees and others in the leadership have had their chance to upset Jesus: they have challenged his authority (20:1–8) and tried to trap him politically (20:20–26). Luke now relates a third controversy during the passion week, in which the Sadducees try their hand at tripping up Jesus on an internal Jewish dispute over the resurrection.”
Let’s read about the Sadducees asking Jesus about the resurrection in Luke 20:27-40:
27 There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, 28 and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. 30 And the second 31 and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. 32 Afterward the woman also died. 33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.”
34 And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36 for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. 37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38 Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” 39 Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” 40 For they no longer dared to ask him any question. (Luke 20:27-40)
John MacArthur writes the following:
Anticipation of life after death is universal in the human race. Throughout history people in every culture have expressed confident hope that death is not the end of their existence, revealing that God has universally “set eternity in their heart” (Eccl. 3:11). For example, reflecting the ancient Egyptians’ belief in life after death, the Book of the Dead contains stories and instructions related to their belief in the afterlife. A solar barge (to be used for transportation in the next life) found in the tomb of Pharaoh Cheops, who died about twenty-five hundred years before Christ was born, reflects that belief. Ancient Greeks sometimes placed a coin in the mouth of a corpse to pay the deceased person’s fare across the mystic river of death into the land of resurrection life. Some American Indians buried their dead warriors with useful items (such as their bows, arrows, and horses) that they might need in the next life. The Vikings did similarly. In Greenland, children were sometimes buried with dogs to guide them through the cold wasteland of death. As a young man, Benjamin Franklin (though not a Christian in the biblical sense) composed the following whimsical epitaph:
The Body of
B. Franklin, Printer
Like the Cover of an old Book,
Its Contents torn out,
And stript of its Lettering & Gilding,
Lies here, Food for Worms.
But the Work shall not be lost,
For it will, as he believ’d,
Appear once more,
In a new and more elegant Edition,
Corrected and improved
By the Author
As God revealed truth to his people, they came to understand that there is indeed life after death. This is stated in a number of biblical passages.
For example, Job expressed his confident hope in his physical resurrection from the dead in Job 19:25-27, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”
David wrote of his hope in the resurrection in Psalm 16:9-11:
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;