Summary: “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. He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to Him all are alive.”
Theme: The God of the living not the dead
Text: Dan. 12:2-4; 2 Thess. 2:16-3:5; Lk. 20:27-38
One of the great themes of biblical revelation is that of the resurrection and in the words of Paul God “according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” This joyful message declares that we will one day not only see our Lord Jesus Christ face to face, but will also spend eternity with all the saints, including our loved ones who have passed into eternity before us. There are many religious people who are not sure or who do not believe in the resurrection from the dead. They find it incredible that God should raise the dead. But if God could take dust and breathe life into it to create a man, why would anyone think it incredible for this same God to raise someone from the dead? The Sadducees, who were mainly priests, found this incredible and could not believe in the resurrection. They also denied the existence of angels and demons and were sceptical of anything supernatural apart from God Himself. They were so sure of themselves that they were constantly involved in debates with the Pharisees about life, death and the resurrection. They claimed that the Torah, the only books of the Scriptures they accepted, contained nothing about the resurrection. But it did because God is the God of the living and not the dead.
The Sadducees in today’s gospel reading approached Jesus with a question on the resurrection. They were not looking for answers but were trying to show that the idea of a resurrection was a foolish one. Although the Scriptures confirm it they refused to accept it because in their ignorance they tried to compare the resurrection life to this present life. They failed to understand that the resurrection life belongs to a completely different realm and involves a different mode of existence. In this new existence men and women would no longer be subject to death and would be like the angels.
We can only understand the resurrection when we believe in the power of God as revealed in nature and in the lives of many men and women who have lived before us. God can do what man cannot do and Ezekiel 37 reveals God’s power to bring people back to life from the dead. If God is capable of doing that, then He is also capable of giving them eternal life in another realm as well. The resurrection is a cornerstone of the Christian faith because on it hangs the three core issues of Christianity - accountability before God, judgement and eternal life. Without the resurrection, death would be the end and our accountability to God would be limited only to this life and judgement and eternal life would be meaningless. The resurrection offers us the opportunity to enter into a new life. In this new life marriage is no longer necessary. Marriage was established by God for men and women in this age in order for us to understand through our physical, emotional, and spiritual oneness His love and oneness with us. Marriage is essential to this mortal, earthly life so human life can be preserved and this will continue as long as this age lasts. In the next age, however we will not need to have children anymore because there will be no death. Marital intimacy will be replaced by something far more superior – it will be replaced by spiritual intimacy. Heaven is not a continuation of life as we now know it since time, death and sin limit our relationships in this life. It will be a different relationship to what we are used to but there will be one thing that will not change and that is worship. Worship will still be central in this new relationship so let us spend more time in worship.
The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection because they claimed there was no information about it, nor proof of it, in Moses’ five books of the law. Jesus points them to the proof in the words God spoke to Moses saying, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”. This could only be possible if Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were still alive. So the Torah clearly supports the concept of a resurrection. The dead saints are raised to life because God is a God of the Living and not the dead. The Sadducees should have known from the Torah that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were still alive, because those words from God were spoken several hundred years after they had died.
A president cannot be a president unless he has people to rule over. Likewise God could not be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob unless they were alive. If someone comes to you and says he or she was your father’s or your mother’s friend, it is either your parent is dead or there has been a change in their relationship. But if one comes to you and says he or she is your father’s or your mother’s friend, it conveys the existence of your parent and an ongoing relationship. God, in this threefold repetition is not only declaring the existence of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob but also His ongoing relationship with them. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob knew that the covenant promises of God transcended earthly life and were eternal. Death did not separate the patriarchs from God and death will not separate the believer from God. Those who have a relationship with God in this life will continue to have a relationship with Him in the age to come. We must be sure of our relationship with Christ for it is this relationship that prepares us for the age to come and ensures our future.