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Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing (Luke 20:27-38)

Luke 20:27–38 - 27 Now there came to Him some of the Sadducees (who say that there is no resurrection), 28 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. 29 “Now there were seven brothers; and the first took a wife and died childless; 30 and the second 31 and the third married her; and in the same way all seven died, leaving no children. 32 “Finally the woman died also. 33 “In the resurrection therefore, which one’s wife will she be? For all seven had married her.” 34 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 the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; 36 for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like 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 burning 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 the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to Him.” What does today’s passage say? In today's passage, some Sadducees who say there is no resurrection approach Jesus to pose a complex hypothetical scenario (vv. 27-33). They describe a woman who marries seven brothers in succession as each dies. They ask Jesus whose wife she would be in the resurrection. Jesus replies that marriage doesn't exist in the resurrection, but people will live eternal life through being considered worthy by God. He explains that eternity with God will be dramatically different from earthly norms (vv.34-36). Jesus then quotes God from the Book of Exodus declaring Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob long after their deaths as proof of the resurrection. He affirms God is the God of the living, not the dead, so the patriarchs must still be alive with Him, though physically dead here making it clear that the resurrection is a very real part of God’s plan for those who are saved (vv. 37-38). How can I apply Luke 20:27-38 to my life? When Jesus walked the earth, one of the groups who repeatedly tried to challenge and discredit Him were the Sadducees. The Sadducees taught that there was no such thing as resurrection from the dead or a spiritual afterlife. This ideology put them at odds with the Pharisees and scribes as well as Jesus and His teaching of God's kingdom. In their continued attempts to undermine Jesus’ legitimacy, a group of them approached Him with an absurdly complex scenario meant to expose what they thought would be flaws in the concept of an afterlife. They posed an exaggerated story about a woman who got married to seven different brothers in her widowhood in the tradition of Levirate marriage. Their hearts were more set on twisting theology for argument's sake rather than pursuing God's truth in humility. As we explore this interaction, there are timely lessons for our own walks of faith today. We too can easily become preoccupied asserting viewpoints without love or predisposed to finding holes in ideas instead of seeing the good intended. Most dangerously, we also risk missing the true nature and work of our loving Creator when we obsess over hypotheticals versus trusting in God's established truths. Here are some basic principles from this passage that we should apply to our lives:

  1. Don't Let Extreme Hypothetical Theology Distort Your Faith; Instead, Trust in the Everyday Practical Truth of God's Word (vv. 27-33): The Sadducees crafted an absurdly exaggerated hypothetical situation about a woman who was married and widowed seven times to try and trap Jesus in a theological debate. Their hearts were more focused on poking holes in doctrines that they did not really understand than earnestly seeking truth. We can also grant disproportionate mental energy to outrageous hypothetical scenarios, theological "what-ifs", or debating peripheral doctrines. All the while we grow distracted from what matters most - experiencing the power and love of God at work in our regular everyday lives through faith and obedience. If we are not careful, we can become like the Sadducees who were missing the forest for the trees. They were so caught up in theoretical arguments that they missed the practical truths about God's power, mercy and goodness which were right in front of them in Scripture and through Christ Himself. We must not let exaggerated thought experiments distract our faith. Instead, we must keep our hearts and minds simple, focused on applying the practical wisdom God has already revealed to us in His Word to our daily choices and interactions (Genesis 39:9, Joshua 1:8, Psalm 119:105).

Food for thought: When have you let hypothetical "what ifs" or theological debates steal your mental focus and distract from authentic faith? What practical spiritual disciplines or community relationships help you tune out speculation and refocus on applying God's clear truth to your daily life?

  1. The Age to Come Will Be Dramatically Different from This Age (vv. 34-36): Jesus explains to the Sadducees that human relationships and institutions like marriage will not exist in the same manner in the age to come after the resurrection. Our existence with God for eternity will be profoundly different from our current earthly lives. The joys and comforts that people experience now through family relationships and vocations will be surpassed by the new heavenly paradise where our deepest needs are fulfilled through perfect relationship with God and one another. This truth can bring comfort on difficult days when we lose precious loved ones and earthly dreams before we feel ready. The pain is real but hope glimmers knowing that God promises to one day wipe every tear and make all things new for those who trust Him. In this age we only see dimly as if staring into a foggy mirror, but the day is coming soon when we will see and know fully, even as we are fully known by our Creator. Though we cannot grasp the precise details in our limited minds, we can anchor our hope on God's steadfast love and His assurances that eternity with Him will be more glorious than anything we have known in this age (1 Corinthians 2:9, 1 Corinthians 13:12, Revelation 21:3-5).

Food for thought: How does looking ahead to the age to come impact your perspective when you experience grief, loss, or disappointment in this age? What excites you or brings comfort when you envision the nature of resurrected life with God for eternity?

  1. Put Your Hope in the Very Real Resurrection of Both the Old and New Testament (vv. 37-38): Jesus redirects the Sadducees attention to the passage in Exodus 3 where God declares Himself to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - patriarchs who died hundreds of years prior. Yet God speaks of them present tense - not “I was their God.” This clearly tells us that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were still alive with God after their earthly deaths. Jesus argues that God is God of the living, not the dead. Therefore, the Old Testament must teach real embodied resurrection life or else God lied. This proof from Torah powerfully refutes the Sadducees rejection of afterlife and affirms the sure hope all people of faith can hold for resurrection. Whether an Old Testament believer like Abraham, or new believer grafted into the family of God, we fix our eyes on the day Jesus will return and the dead in Him will live. Though lied to by a world denying resurrection, we stand unshaken holding to the consistent witness of Scripture across history. Our assured hope of resurrection is not based on human philosophy but on the demonstrable faithfulness of God towards His people (John 11:25, Acts 24:15, 1 Peter 1:3).

Food for thought: How does tracing the unchanging Biblical theme of resurrection throughout various ages strengthen your personal faith? Who in your sphere of influence is discouraged or doubting the promise of eternal life with God, who you could kindly assure of this Biblical hope? When we examine Jesus' response to the Sadducees, we see He skillfully turned an attempt to undermine into an opportunity to reinforce Biblical truth. He cautioned against letting speculative hypotheticals distract from what God has clearly revealed in Scripture and through Christ. He firmly corrected false teaching, while also demonstrating grace to those listening and seeking truth. Though the Sadducees pursued Him with impure motives, Jesus responded with patience, wisdom, and discernment to steer the dialogue toward matters of greater scriptural depth versus winning an argument. He focused the attention rightly back on God’s power, God’s promises, and God’s faithful proven character across time. As Christ-followers, we too can apply these principles in how we discuss theology with humility, pursue truth over winning debates, fix our hope on eternity versus earthly preoccupations, and trust Scripture’s consistent revelation of God’s love and sovereignty no matter the circumstance. When we keep our focus simple and centered on who God is and His compassion towards us, we walk steady in faith and avoid drifting into confusion over hypotheticals, no matter how aggressively opponents may try to divert us. Prayer Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You would keep my eyes focused on the truths of who You are and Your enduring promises, rather than getting distracted over hypotheticals. I ask that You give me discernment to pursue truth in humility like Christ, recognizing that right doctrines should lead me closer to You and the power of Your endless love. Guard my heart from arrogance, impatience or malice when discussing theology, but instead let my life and speech reflect Your grace and patience towards me. I long to trust You more fully during loss, disappointment, and grief in this age, finding my true hope in the coming resurrection and eternal life with You. I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Luke 20:38 - “Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to Him.” With His Blessings, Pastor Corby

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