The Reality of the Resurrection
July 25, 2021 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:
Theme: We should live in light of the certainty of the resurrection.
Introduction: We make all kinds of assumptions about Heaven. Many look at heaven as a place where life is like here, but better. Some believe that in heaven, their spouse will finally be what they ought to be and that you’ll enjoy a perfect union. Unfortunately, Jesus lets us know that marriage is something that will not be needed in heaven. Sure, we will know who our spouse was on earth and there will undoubtedly be a unique appreciation for them as we worship the Lord. However, the primary relationship that we will enjoy in heaven will be as brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Our text today provides us with clarity on the subject of Heaven and who is able to enter Heaven. It also provides the wisdom in living this life in preparation for the life to come. We should live in light of the certainty of the resurrection.
I. The Disparagement of the Resurrection – 20:27-33
A. The Contesting of the Resurrection – v. 27
- The next wave of antagonists approached Jesus with the desire to illegitimize Jesus and avenge His embarrassment of their franchise when He cleansed the temple – “Now there came to Him some of the Sadducees …”
- “The Sadducees” “although few in number … wielded immense influence, because they consisted of the aristocratic, wealthy, and influential religionists, including the high priests, the chief priests (cf. 19:47; 20:1, 19), and most of the Sanhedrin.”
- Theologically, they have rejected anything not directly taught in the Pentateuch and completely rejected the resurrection – “… (who say that there is no resurrection).”
- They had no time for all of the complicated, legalistic, prescriptions legislated by the Pharisees – and stuck with Mosaic Law are written, not as proliferated by Judaism.
- As a result, they had the “only go around once” attitude and went after power, wealth, position, and authority in this life – living like there was no tomorrow.
- Therefore, after the previous debacle by the Pharisees, the Sadducees decided they needed to demonstrate the folly of following Jesus by discrediting Him with a question He could not answer.
B. The Caricature of the Resurrection – vv. 28-33
- So “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.”
- This practice is called the “Levirate Marriage” (from Latin meaning “in-law” or “husband’s brother”) and was designed to avoid the cessation of a lineage – cp. Deuteronomy 25:5-6.
- They used this Mosaic instruction to attempt to demonstrate how ridiculous believing in the resurrection was: “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.”
- They scoffingly and sardonically maneuvered Jesus into a situation where He would lose the esteem of the people because He cannot possibly answer the question.
II. The Defense of the Resurrection – 20:34-38
A. The Transformation through the Resurrection – vv. 34-36
- At their best, humanity cannot serve as a match to the wisdom and knowledge of God – “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.’”
- The Sadducees had assumed that what exists here will extend into a glorified state in heaven, but such is not the case.
- There is a distinction that exists between the temporal and the Eternal – between “the sons of this age …” and “those who attain to that age.”
- “Those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection of from the dead …” – is a reference to those who believe in Christ Jesus – a warning here to both the Pharisees and the Sadducees that their rejection of Jesus was a damning rejection – Colossians 1:13-14.
- When a person dies, their soul departs from the body and immediately goes into the presence of God – either for judgment or for affirmation that comes through faith – cp. John 3:18, 36.
- It is apparent that the purpose for marriage throughout human history remained the same as when it was originated – to propagate the human race – “… neither marry nor are given in marriage; for they cannot even die anymore …” – cp. Genesis 1:27-28; 9:1, 7.
- In heaven, with glorified bodies, there is no need to replace oneself – filling heaven will be done by the act of God in redemption and not in human reproduction.
- The reason that “they cannot even die anymore, [is] because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”
- This statement does not state that we become angels, but that our resurrection life is “like angels” in that there is no need for “self-propagation.”
- The primary relationship in Heaven is that we will all be “sons of God” – children of our Heavenly Father without the need to be a father or a mother.
- We will obviously know who our spouses were when we lived on earth – because those relationships were ordained by God, sanctified by God, established by God, and unfolded to the glory of God.
- The primary relationship with one’s spouse in heaven will not be marital – marriage is for the “sons of this age;” but it will become as siblings before the glory of our Heavenly Father – this is what is meant by “sons of the resurrection.”
B. The Testimony re: the Resurrection – vv. 37-38
- Having straightened out their misconceptions of the transformation through the resurrection, He addresses their denial of the resurrection – “But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the burning bush …”
- This was a masterful rebuttal using their own authority – their claim was that if Moses didn’t teach it, they wouldn’t accept it.
- Their strenuous study of the Pentateuch failed to catch a very important grammatical point – demonstrating the essential nature of the “verbal plenary inspiration” of Scripture that compels our exegetical study.
- He said, “… where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” – cp. Exodus 3:6.
- The point here is that Moses lived about 1440 BC and Abraham lived roughly 600 years earlier but God says “I am the God of Abraham …” using the present tense.
- The exegetical, grammatical evidence Jesus presents is that the tense of the verb used by God matters and makes all of the difference – “Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”
- Otherwise, God would have had to say, “I was the God of Abraham …”
- Jesus declares that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob “… all live to Him.” – cp. John 11:25-26.
III. The Debasement by the Resurrection – 20:39-40
A. The Intellectual Recognition of Truth – v. 39
- Jesus had obliterated the dignity, scholarship, and position of the Sadducees – showing their limited comprehension of the Pentateuch over which they claimed to be experts.
- Instead of Jesus losing the respect of the people, the Sadducees were embarrassed.
- The enemies of Jesus but who were also the enemies of the Sadducees were thrilled by Jesus’ demolition of the Sadducee's smug, haughty, and vaunted assertions of superiority.
- As their archrivals had been humiliated, “Some of the scribes answered and said, ‘Teacher, You have spoken well.’”
- Their affirmation of Jesus was not an agreement with Him but was an attempt to rub salt into the wounds of their opponents.
- Some of the Sadducees may have said this as well as an attempt to regain face and pass it off as a “test.”
- The “confession” that Jesus was “right” did not extend to anything beyond the specific issue being contested – they remained unbelievers in Jesus.
- Their intellectual recognition of truth did not extend to faith in the One who is the truth – Jesus Christ – evidence that people can know and agree with truth without embracing Jesus Christ as their Savior.
B. The Inflexible Rejection of Truth – v. 40
- Instead of granting the credibility of Jesus as a genuine Rabbi that must be followed, they continued to harden their hearts toward Him.
- We are told that “they did not have the courage to question Him any longer about anything.”
- Their unteachable spirit caused them to withdraw until they could finally rid themselves of Him – which they initiated the next day when they arrested Him at night (Thursday).
Prioritizing this world over the eternity to come is the formula for eternal disaster.
Only through faith can a person be saved and considered worthy to attain the resurrection and enter eternity with God.
One of the purposes for marriage is procreation – do not look at children as something to be avoided.
God’s Word must be studied literally and grammatically to provide its proper interpretation.
Intellectual understanding of truth without a submissive heart is a characteristic of those unworthy to attain the resurrection to glory.