Pastor Cliff titled his sermon “hope and resurrection’. The Gospel scripture was from Luke 20.27-33. Jesus has set his face for Jerusalem. When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, He wept (19:41-44). Why do you suppose Jesus weep? You may remember that when Jesus gets to the Temple, he sees some folks buying and selling sacrifices for the atonement of sin. At that time, folks believed the “presence of God” was only in the Holy of Holies, inside the Temple, and many saved money all their life to make a pilgrimage to the Temple to offer sacrifices to please God. When they arrived, some were told that their animal was not acceptable to God. Some were told their money was not allowed in the Temple. I think Jesus saw folks trying to get to church, and Jesus saw other folks putting up barriers – making up rules to keep them out. That’s when Jesus cleanses the temple (19:45-46). Can you understand how those in “control” might feel threatened by Jesus? They “think” they are being obedient to God by only allowing “proper” sacrifices but Jesus throws them out. I believe Jesus was weeping because the insiders were denying the outsiders ‘access’ to worship God.
Jesus is including the “wrong” people, and the insiders don’t like it. He is breaking “their rules”. When we humans feel threatened, or think that we might “lose” something like control, or power. Well, Luke 19, verses 47 to 48 says that the chief priests, scribes and leaders of the people looked for a way to kill Jesus. So, our reading today is about those in power trying to trap Jesus and have him killed by the Roman government. The Sadducees believed only the Torah [Genesis-Exodus-Leviticus-Numbers and Deuteronomy] was from God. And they did not believe the Torah said anything about resurrection, so they “didn’t believe” in eternal life. They believe a person “lived on” through their descendants in their memories. Interestingly, the Sadducees did not believe in angels, but angels are found in the Torah (Genesis 16:7; 21:17; 22:11, etc.). Folks “picked out” certain verses and left out others. They had been doing this for a very long time. Folks got desperate in order to hold on to power and the status quo. That had been going on a long time, too. For the theology fans out there, that’s call “proof-texting”. Let me tell you what I believe and I will find a verse to prove it to you. So, listen now to their attempt to trap Jesus.
The lesson reads: “Then Jesus was approached by some Sadducees - religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead. They posed this question: ‘Teacher, Moses gave us a law that if a man dies, leaving a wife but no children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name. Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children. So the second brother married the widow, but he also died. Then the third brother married her. This continued with all seven of them, who died without children. Finally, the woman also died. So tell us, Jesus, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her’” (Luke 20:27-33).
I must point out to you what the scriptures of the Old Testament say a widow is supposed to do if her deceased husband’s brother won’t take her in marriage. In Deuteronomy chapter 25, verse 9: his brother’s wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, pull his sandal off his foot, spit in his face, and declare, “This is what is done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.” Throughout Israel his family shall be known as “the house of him whose sandal was pulled off.” For the Sadducees that did not believe eternal life was in the words of the Torah, they posed this question to Jesus and got an answer that includes a description of heaven they weren’t expecting. You see, once we have “eternal life”, we do not need to “produce” any children because we will live forever. Their view was that children were necessary for their memory to live on with their ancestors. Listen how Jesus says it in Luke 20, verses 34-36: Jesus replied, “Marriage is for people here on earth. But in the age to come, those worthy of being raised from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage. And they will never die again. In this respect they will be like angels. They are children of God and children of the resurrection”. So, that takes the basis of their question and turns it upside down. There will not be marriages in Heaven. Life in Heaven is not like life on earth. Don’t let me suggest to you that I understand “resurrection life”. I don’t. I would tell you that “For now, we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12 NRS). We do know that there will be no pain or suffering or tears or death or evil. I can only suggest to you that we can trust God. We can have faith in God, and we can trust that life with God will be so much more than life on “earth” as we know it. And so, Jesus knows that he is talking to the Sadducees, and he takes them to the books of the Bible they profess to believe, and he shows them that resurrection is in their Bible, and they may have “missed it”. In their situation, Jesus points them to Moses and the burning bush. That’s when God called on Moses to go to Egypt and to tell the Pharaoh to set God’s people free. So, with that story, Jesus takes them to the book of Exodus - one of the books of the Torah in the Bible they believe in, and points out to them: And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive. (Luke 20:37-38 NRS).
You see, when the burning bush call took place, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died the physical death long before Moses and Jesus quotes Moses to the Sadducees. Moses said he is God of the living, that’s eternal life. Do you suppose that Jesus quoting Moses, in the Torah they believed in, was sufficient to change their mind? Not likely, because it was never really about resurrection, anyway. It was about staying in “control” of this life now. Now, I might ask you, where would we 21st century Christians “point to” in the Bible as the basis for our believing in the resurrection? Well, I suppose, one of our favorites is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. So, “if” we believe in resurrection, then how we live now, matters, because this suggests that there will be either life with God or life separated from God. It is also important to read John 3:17 & John 3:18, too. Actually read the whole book of John. Let’s not “hang our hat” on 1 verse “if” we believe in judgment, this would suggest what? If we believe in life everlasting, how then shall we live, today?
Jesus gave us a “new” commandment: To love one another. Of course, that is not “new” to a Jewish person. That is in the Torah, Leviticus chapter 19 verse 18. The “new” part was to love one another the “way” Jesus had loved them. When Jesus said he was the way, the truth, and the life, “love” is the “way”, “love” is the truth and “love” is life. The plan is “love”. Those things will not fully bring in the Kingdom of God on earth. The real plan is self giving, humility, and obedience.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR – There will be a community wide worship service the first Sunday of Advent, December 1st, at St Paul Lutheran Church in Mason. The service begins at 6 p.m.
Shoeboxes for God’s children in Mexico” need to be completed by Dec. 15th.
Choir practice for the Christmas program is each Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. until they sing on the 15th. Men and women are needed; come and sing.
Bring Thanksgiving turkey side dishes. Check the list at the back of the church. Bring them on Nov. 24th.
BUILD THE RAMP. Pray for the ramp. Can it be done by Jan. 1?