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Luke 20:27 -- 48

Lesson audio

Today Scripture gives us an opportunity to review the reasons for believing in the resurrection of the dead. Let's like take a look at how the Jesus handles the Sadducees in this question.

Now there came to Him some of the Sadducees (who say that there is no resurrection), and they questioned Him, saying, "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that IF A MAN'S BROTHER DIES, having a wife, AND HE IS CHILDLESS, HIS BROTHER SHOULD MARRY THE WIFE AND RAISE UP CHILDREN TO HIS BROTHER. "Now there were seven brothers; and the first took a wife and died childless; and the second and the third married her; and in the same way all seven died, leaving no children. "Finally the woman died also. "In the resurrection therefore, which one's wife will she be? For all seven had married her." Jesus said to them, "The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. "But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB. "Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to Him." Some of the scribes answered and said, "Teacher, You have spoken well." For they did not have courage to question Him any longer about anything. Then He said to them, "How is it that they say the Christ is David's son? "For David himself says in the book of Psalms, 'THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, "SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET."' "Therefore David calls Him 'Lord,' and how is He his son?" And while all the people were listening, He said to the disciples, "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows' houses, and for appearance's sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation."

(Luk 20:27-47 NASB)

Introduction: The Sadducees

The name is supposed to have been derived from a priest named Zadok. He was a priest under King David and Solomon; he was the one who removed the arc of the covenant from the tabernacle during the revolt of Absalom. Under King Solomon he became the high priest. The Sadducees were the intellectual minimalists of their day. They accepted only the written law, and did not believe in angels, spirits or the resurrection of the dead. This particular sect disappeared after AD 70, the fall of Jerusalem. The scattering of the Jews at this time effectively ended their intellectual tradition.

Reasons I believe

There are many reasons I believe in the resurrection of the dead to come. Here however is a synopsis of the major reasons.

The character of God
  • I believe that God is love. And therefore like Job, I believe that he will "long for the works of his hands."[1]
  • I believe the God is just. Therefore, he will want to reward the righteous[2] and punish the wicked.[3]
  • I believe that God is faithful. Therefore I believe his promise that Christ will lose none of those he has been given.[4]
  • I believe that God is eternal. Therefore, he is the God of the living, as Christ states here.

There are three major sources of testimony to the resurrection. I list them here for you.

  • The Old Testament prophets state this repeatedly[5]. Both in a veiled language and in direct statement, the prophets hold to the resurrection of the dead. (This is why The Sadducees rejected the prophets; their words disagreed with the intellectual thought of the day. )
  • Christ clearly teaches that the resurrection of the dead will happen.[6]
  • Likewise the apostles taught the early church precisely the same thing.[7]
The witness of man

It is a common well-known fact: the world is not my home. I hold the citizenship of heaven; and therefore I do not feel at home in this world. But if I hold the citizenship of heaven, do I then not have the promise of going home?

Also I have the Holy Spirit as a pledge.[8] If I am living the new life I should see its effects. And if I do, then I have the Holy Spirit as a witness the resurrection of Christ me that God will raise me from the dead.

The resurrection of Christ

it might seem at first glance that the resurrection of Christ is not particularly evidence that there will be a general resurrection of the dead. This is not so. We can garner from the character of Christ the facts necessary to show the resurrection of the dead. First, let us consider the eternal nature of Christ. As he is fully God, he is therefore eternal. But as he is also fully man, he can share his eternal nature with us. And he has promised to do so.

  • The Old Testament clearly teaches us that our Redeemer lives for ever.[9] Job saw in the resurrection of the dead his only hope of seeing the justice of God.
  • Christ's resurrection is a sign of the power that God has to perform that resurrection. If he can resurrect Christ, he can resurrect us.[10]
  • Indeed, Jesus is described to us as the first fruits of that resurrection. From that we can conclude that we will be like him when we see him face to face.[11]
  • Indeed, the apostles taught that if there is no resurrection then Christ has not been raised from the dead. And if Christ has not been raised from the dead, we are still in our sins and we are to be most pitied of men.[12]

What will it be like?

The Christian naturally asks, "what will it be like?" From this passage we know some things. We know that we will not die anymore nor will we see death anymore. Because of our eternal nature, we are not given in the worldly, temporal relationship known as marriage. I suspect the reason for this is the nature of the authority given to Christ. In marriage, a woman is subject to her husband's authority. But when he comes again, he will abolish all authority other than his own through the Father. Therefore, authority relationships like marriage will cease to exist. Further, Christ here tells us that we will be like the Angels, like the sons of God.

To understand what this must be like, we can look at the risen Lord and see the differences between his body before and after the resurrection. We see no further miracles, unless you count the fish at the lake as being a miracle. But we also see a body unrestricted by the cosmos. This is a body that can walk through locked doors. This is a body which can disguise itself from the highest of the disciples, until the proper time. The truth is we really don't know too much about this. It is as Paul put it, we now see dimly.[13] One thing we know for certain: we he will be like Christ.[14]

David calls him Lord

This short passage is given to us for a specific reason. Having silenced the Sadducees, Christ stays to give an equal reply to the Pharisees.


Note that Christ now warns the disciples. This last message is not really addressed to the Pharisees, but to Christ's own disciples. In particular, it is addressed to those disciples who will become the apostles, and therefore the leaders of the early church. He warns them of the temptation to which the Pharisees have fallen. Let us examine those faults in the hopes that we will not find them and ourselves as well:

  • First, there is the desire for the honor of leading the church. The honor of leading the church is one which is very great. This comes from the fact that the leadership of the church must be indeed a self-sacrificing leadership. Man who devote their lives to preaching, leading the sheep, and rebuking the wicked are those who deserve the honor that they are entitled to. Such honor is great; but to desire that honor simply for the sake of having it is not honorable.
  • One particular way of discovering this in your self is to see how concerned you might be with appearances. This is not a matter of whether or not you have a tie. It is a concern for how the things you say and do will be perceived by other people. When their perception, when their praise, when their rumor is your first concern, you have lost the real truth.
  • Indeed this leads to the darkness of the Pharisees. Under the cover of righteousness, they lined their pockets from the suffering of the poor. The widow's houses here are those which were given by their husbands to the synagogue for safekeeping, so that their widows might be taken care of. These Pharisees took that money and those houses and dedicated it to God - while putting it in their own pockets.

If you wish to be in the resurrection of the righteous, then you must indeed be righteous here. The danger to the Christian is that of hypocrisy. Even though we see in the mirror darkly, as Paul said, we should look into that mirror everyday. Thus we should detect the first glimmerings of hypocrisy in time to rid ourselves of them.

Our Lord will soon return. As he asked, will he find faith on the earth?

[1] Job 14:12-15

[2] Luke 14:13 -- 14

[3] John 5: 28 -- 29

[4] John six: 39 -- 40

[5] see, for example, Isaiah 26: 19

[6] John 5:28 -- 29

[7] 1 Thessalonians 4:14

[8] second Corinthians 5: one -- 5

[9] Job 19:25 -- 27

[10] Romans 8:11

[11] First Corinthians 15:23

[12] First Corinthians 15:17

[13] First Corinthians 13:12

[14] First John 3:2

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