70 Luke 20.27-39
The Law of the Sandal
v Opening Illustration
Ø What is your image of heaven?
§ Gustave Dore overhead
· Angel showing John the New Jerusalem
v When you think of heaven, what images are conjured up?
v What do you think the afterlife will be like?
v What do you think our bodies will be like?
v What will we do for eternity?
Ø Well today we meet a group of men that don’t think much of the afterlife
§ In fact, they don’t think of the afterlife at all because they do not believe it exists!
· So they approach Jesus with a question
¨ Not one about authority
¨ Not a political question
Ø But a theological question
§ A question about the age to come…
· A question about life after death
v The Sadducees
Ø A hodge-podge group comprised of priestly leaders, elders and Judean aristocrats
§ They and the Pharisees battled back and forth for political power
· But they come to Jesus not to test his authority or discredit him politically as the others had done
¨ But to challenge him theologically
v You see…
Ø The Sadducees were also the existentialists or nihilists of that age
§ existentialists and nihilists believe that this life is all there is
· That once you die…
Ø That’s it! Nothing!
v And that was the position of the Sadducees
Ø They did not believe in the resurrection because they did not believe in an afterlife
§ In other words…
· They were no different than many people you meet today
¨ That is why there is so much hopelessness
Ø Think about it…
§ If this life is all there is…
· It is hopeless
· There is reason to be depressed
· Suicide makes sense
· Euthanasia makes sense
¨ Hopelessness makes sense!
v But for the Christian…
Ø We are to have a VCR mentality
§ Charles Ellis, a pastor from Indianapolis, gave the following illustration that I think helps us understand why we have hope…
v He writes…
I am a tremendous sports fan. Since many sporting events take place when I am not at home, I videotape them. When it's time to sit in my easy chair and view the tape, unlike most people, I don't rewind to the beginning to view it. Instead, I rewind to the climax to discover who won and who lost. If my team lost, I'll put the tape away, but if my team won I'll rewind the game back to the beginning, get out some snacks, and watch the whole game.
Some have told me this method can't be much fun. On the contrary, no matter how bad things look for my team, I don't have to worry because I know the end of the story.
That's how we ought to think about our future resurrection. We ought to have a VCR mentality: no matter how bad things look, we don't have to worry because we know the end of the story.
v Even though we go through the same difficulties as everybody else here on earth…
Ø Even though the rain falls on the just and unjust alike…
§ Our hope is in something beyond this world
§ Our hope is in what is to come
· And that gives us the fortitude to make it through
¨ 1 Pet 1:3, 13
Ø In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead
Ø Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you (future tense!) when Jesus Christ is revealed
§ We are to be a people of hope because of what is to come
· Which is so much better and everlasting!
v But the Sadducees have no such hope
Ø For they have no belief in the resurrection or an afterlife
§ Thus they posed a question based on Dt 25:5-6
· If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her. The first son she bears shall carry on the name of the dead brother so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel
v The Mosaic law created what is called “Levirate marriage”
Ø Preserves name and family lineage
§ If you have ever read Ruth and wondered what on earth is going on in chapter 4, this is it!
· Boaz wants to marry Ruth who married into the family of Elimelech (Naomi’s husband)
· Boaz must make sure that the nearest relative, kinsman redeemer, does not want her
· Goes to gate of city
· Finds kinsman-redeemer
· Kinsman-redeemer refuses
· K-R takes off his sandal and gives it to Boaz
¨ This is the law of the sandal
v The Sadducees knowing this law asked Jesus a ridiculous question based on what they thought was a ridiculous belief…
Ø That there was an afterlife
§ 1 woman, 7 marriages ~ Whose wife will she be?
· Who is left holding the sandal?
v But Jesus wasn’t pulled into this foolish question
Ø Titus 3:9
§ Avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless
· Jesus knew that being pulled into an silly discussion regarding levirate marriage and the afterlife would be unprofitable and useless
¨ So he gives an answer that shows how silly their question is
READ v. 34-36
v Jesus’ answer is incredibly adept
Ø First he exposes how silly their question really is…
§ There is no marriage in heaven!
· This seems sad to us for this is such a significant relationship
¨ So special
¨ So important
¨ So intimate
Ø Marriage Illustration: CS Lewis, Mere Christianity
The Christian idea of marriage is based on Christ's words that a man and wife are to be regarded as a single organism, for that is what the words "one flesh" would be in modern English. And Christians believe that when He said this He was not expressing a sentiment, but stating a fact, just as one is stating a fact when one says that a lock and its key are one mechanism, or that a violin and a bow are one musical instrument. The inventor of the human machine was telling us that its two halves, the male and the female, were made to be combined together in pairs, not simply on the sexual level, but totally combined ....What we call "being in love" is a glorious state
Ø Marriage was created to be a wonderful state of being
§ And Jesus’ answer is one that is disconcerting for many
· Why won’t we have this special relationship in heaven?
v The answer is a good one!
Ø Because relationships will be better in heaven
§ 1 Cor 15:42-44
· The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
Ø The natural body is sown in sin, stained with sin
§ Sin nature impedes all our relationships
· Including marriage
¨ That is why all husbands don’t love their wives as Christ loved the Church
¨ That is why all wives don’t submit to their husbands as to the Lord
Ø But our spiritual resurrected body will be sinless and perfect
· All relationships will be perfect
· All relationships will be ultimately intimate
· All relationships will be closer than those of husband and wife on earth!
v Jesus gives a second reason there will be no need for marriage in heaven…
Ø It was created for procreation
§ And there is no need for that in heaven
· V. 36 ~ For we will be like the angels…Immortal
¨ Main reason for levirate marriage law is so that that person’s name will not pass out of existence
Ø Immortality ensures that will not be the case
v But marriage is not the real issue at the core of the Sadducees question
Ø So Jesus continues and deals with the heart of the matter…
§ Belief in Resurrection
READ v. 37-38
v Here Jesus gives a case for the Resurrection
Ø And he quotes Ex 3:6, which is important
§ Jesus could have quoted Daniel 12, or Isa 26, or Ps 73, or Job 19
· But the Sadducees only accepted the Pentateuch as God’s word
¨ So he gives evidence for resurrection from the account of the burning bush
v And there Yahweh says to Moses
Ø “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”
§ Using the present tense
· Inferring that they are still alive
¨ Jesus concludes…
Ø “He is not God of the dead but God of the living!”
v Jesus takes great pains to answer this question
Ø Because in a little less than one week this belief was going to be put to the test
§ Jesus was going to be crucified, die a horrible, painful death and be buried
· But on the third day rise again
¨ And belief in Jesus’ resurrection is what our faith is all about
Ø Listen to how Paul puts it this way in 1 Cor 15:13-18
v You see…
Ø Without a resurrection there is a reverberating effect in the Christian life
§ The preaching you have been listening to your whole life…
· Useless, a lie, nothing, empty powerless words
§ All the preachers you have sat under for decades…
· Liars, fakes, frauds, snake oil salesmen
§ All the loved ones you hoped to be with forever…
· Lost, gone, into the abyss never to be seen again
§ All your prayers you have prayed…
· Empty words spoken into thin air being heard by no one
§ All your terrible, horrible sins you thought you were forgiven…
· Still hanging over you head like the sword of Damocles
v And the hope that the resurrection brings to those who believe…
Ø Paul says in 1 Cor 15:19
§ If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men
· If the resurrection of Christ is no powerful and effective to give us eternal life…
¨ We are to be pitied!
Ø Because that is the hope of the resurrection
§ Life eternal
In November, 1982, Vice President George Bush represented the U.S. at the funeral of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. What he saw there astonished him.
As Brezhnev's widow approached the coffin, she stood motionless by its side until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev's wife performed an act of great courage and hope, a gesture that must surely rank as one of the most profound acts of civil disobedience ever committed. She reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband's chest. There in the citadel of secular, atheistic power, the wife of the man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped that there was another life, and that that life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross, and that the same Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband.
v What about you?
v Where’s your hope?
Ø Isa 40:31
§ But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint
· And if I may be so bold as to add…
¨ They will die yet live forever
Ø The Bible tells us just enough about heaven to pique our interest
§ But not too much to consume our minds
· In this way, God is gracious!
¨ If he did tell us how wonderful it truly was, we would become…
Ø “So heavenly minded we would be no earthly good”
v In our text today we meet a group of men called the Sadducees
Ø And they pose yet another question to Jesus
· In fact,
v Resurrection, or life after death, is something that is endemic in the OT
Ø Jesus could have gone to Daniel 12, or Isa 26, or Ps 73, or Job 19
§ All of which give ample evidence of resurrection
· It is a key to the believer’s life
Ø answers their question by giving us a glimpse into what heaven will be like
Ø The Sadducees refused to believe in the resurrection, i.e. an afterlife
Ø V. 37-38
§ God of living
· People who have no hope of heaven
¨ Illustration: Waiting for Godot
Ø Absurdist play
Ø 2 men wait for someone to come who never comes
Ø Useless, meaningless waiting
v The Sadducees refused to believe in angels
Ø V. 36
§ They are like angels
· How so?
¨ No need for marriage because they are immortal
Ø One of the many reasons God gave us the institution of marriage was for procreation
Ø No marriage
Ø Like angels
§ Righteous character
· Greater spiritual range
§ Continual worship of God
§ Continual joy
v The Sadducees refused to believe in a Judgment
Ø V. 35
§ Considered worthy of taking part in that age…
v The Sadducees refused to believe in a Resurrection
Ø V. 36
§ Children of the resurrection
v The discontinuity between this age and the age to come