Is There a Resurrection?
Luke tells us that Jesus was teaching in the temple courts. He is questioned by the chief priests, the elders of the law, both Pharisees and Sadducees. They questioned him about his religious authority, his biblical knowledge and theology. He was not educated in one of the prestigious theological schools in Jerusalem. Credentials from Nazareth? No degrees given there.
They questioned Jesus about money and taxes. Then the Sadduccess took their turn. Luke writes: “some of the Sadducees, who do not believe in the resurrection came with a question about marriage and life beyond the grave in heaven.”
The Sadducees accepted only the first 5 books of the O.T. as God’s authentic word. They did not believe in life after death. They did not believe in angels. They said that life ended at death. They considered themselves hard core realist, who had to show this Jesus to be a sham. The Sadducees were comfortable in their day to day lives and had no concern with life after an earthly death.
Many Americans fall into the same category. They are so comfortable they forget about our ultimate destiny. The Apostle Paul confronted the same issue in the city of Athens. In Acts 16 Luke writes: Paul “reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and God fearing Greeks, and in the market place, day by day.” In his sermon he complements them on their openness, the fact that they have a “temple to the unknown god”. “I’m going to tell you about this “unknown god”. He created the world. He does not live in temples built by hands. … He has set a day when he will judge the world with justice.” He gave proof of this by raising Jesus from the dead.
“When they heard about the resurrection of the dead some of them sneered.” Some wanted to hear more. (Acts 17:16-23)
How about you? What do you think will happen?
“Death is public enemy number one. Buckle up. Sleep more. Exercise daily. Eat less fat. More protein. Less caffine. More vegetables. Ducking the shadow of death dominates our days. But no one ducks it forever. Upon hearing the Grim Reaper at your door, what price would you pay for an extension? (Come Thirsty- Max Lucado – p. 41)
Would you give your right hand? Aron Ralston did.
The twenty-seven-year old adventurer makes holiday treks out of climbing Rocky Mountain peaks. He’s summated forty-five of them, alone, all in winter, most after midnight. Life on the edge isn’t new to him. But life beneath an eight-hundred-pound- boulder? He was climbing off one when it shifted, trapping his right hand against the wall of a narrow crevice in a remote Utah canion.
He shoved the rock with his shoulder and tried to chisel it with his knife; he even attempted to hoist the thing with his climbing rope and pulley. The boulder didn’t budge. After five days, with food and water gone and having drifted back and forth between depression and visions of friends and margaritas, he made a decision, the thought of which mere mortals gulp. He resolved to sever his right hand.
“It occurred to me that if I could break my bones up at the wrist, where they were trapped, I could be freed.” He later said. “I was able to fist snap the radius and then within another few minutes snap the ulna.” Next, with a cheap multiuse tool, the kind that comes with a fifteen dollar flashlight, he began sawing into his own skin. The blade was so dull it “wouldn’t even cut my arm hairs,” but he persisted in the amputation. He later told reporters, “It took about an hour.” Don’t even imagine the pops and snaps of those sixty minutes.
Ralston finally broke free of the boulder. He now faced the challenge of finding human beings. He crawled through a 150 foot ravine, rappelled (one handed) down a 60 foot wall, and then hiked six miles. Only then did he run into some Dutch tourists, who, no doubt, got more for their money than their travel agent ever promised. Downplaying his courage, Ralston explained the escape as a “matter of pragmatics.”
Pragmatic indeed. On one hand, death. Without the other hand, life. When faced with the choice he chose life.
But no one ducks death forever. Ecclesiastes 8:8 “None of us can hold back our spirit from departing. None of us has the power to prevent the day of our death. There is no escaping that obligation, that dark battle.”
“It is destined that each person dies only once and after that comes the judgment.” (Heb. 9:27) Which from God’s perspective is nothing to grieve about. While we drive hearses and wear black, heaven’s door is hung with pink and blue streamers welcoming the believer’s arrival.
We don’t grieve when babies enter the world. He hosts of heaven don’t weep when we leave the earth. Many people weep at the thought of death. Do you? Do you dread your death? And is your dread of death robbing your joy of life?
Remember Jesus came to “deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.” (Heb. 2:15) The Psalmist writes: “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” (Ps. 139:16) “He chose us before the creation of the world…. In love he adopted us into his holy family through Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 1:4)
This is love, not that we loved God but he first loved us. Maybe this illustration explains it best.
Mom’s: Why do you love your newborn baby? It’s a silly question, but indulge me. For months this baby brought you pain. Because of her you craved silly food, threw up in the morning. She occupied space that wasn’t hers and ate food she didn’t fix. You kept her warm. You kept her safe. As soon as she was born, she cried. The room was too cold, the blanket too rough, the light too bright. She has done nothing for you; yet you love her. She’ll wake you up all hours of the night, but it doesn’t matter.
So why do you love your new born infant? Because the baby is yours. Your flesh and blood. She is your legacy.
She is weak and helpless. She did not ask to come into this world. She needs you.
God knows we are like that too. We are his idea. We are his face. His hands. His touch, He loves us and nothing can separate us from his love. In baptism he adopts us. He forgives us. He promises that nothing can separate us from his love in Jesus Christ. (Rom. 8:38-39)
He has prepared heaven for us as our eternal home. In our bible story Jesus tells us that there is no marriage in heaven. He did not say we would not know our present wife or husband, our parents, our grandparents, our children. What he said was that the relationship would be different. There is no longer any death. “They will not die”. Our bodies will be resurrected, glorified bodies, made for eternity, imperishable, Paul writes.
Your individuality will be preserved. You will recognize you loved ones. Their bodies will be perfect. Remember that Jesus’ resurrected body was the same as before death. His friends recognized him. He could eat food, drink water. Jesus said: “Touch me, you can see that a ghost does not have flesh and bone.” It was his real body. He could walk into a room “with the door closed and locked”. He could change his appearance, and vanish away.”
The second great truth that Jesus shares with the Sadducees is that not everyone will be in heaven… only those who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, those who place their faith in Jesus.
There are many areas in life in which men and women can make mistakes. In the area of finances, we can make mistakes with the hope that we will learn from our error. Athletes can afford to make mistakes during a contest, because the possibility that in the next game they will get it right. But in the question of eternity no one can afford to be wrong. In this arena there is no second chance. The mistake the Sadducees were making was that they were gambling with their souls and that this earthly life was all there is…. They were and are wrong. Jesus knew them. He knew their situation. He knew their theology. And in Mark 12:27 he said: “you have made a serious error.” Because of Jesus you do not have to be afraid of the future.
“Not so long ago, in a general conversation, a man told the, Lutheran Hour speaker, about his dog. This was a dog who had a history. Early in his life the dog had been beaten and bruised. Left unfed for days at a time. Even though he knew the dog’s background, the man adopted the mutt anyway. Instantaneously that dog’s life was transformed. His new master had a kind voice rather than sharp shouts. The dog was fed richly and regularly. He was walked in the morning and in the evening. He was patted, petted, and scratched. That dog was loved.
“nevertheless”, the man said, it still took years before that dog completely understood the changes that had happened.” There were things in his new life the dog did not understand. He didn’t understand why his new master took him to the vet to be prodded, poked and pinched. Eventually the dog figured this out… as best as a dog can
He knew that when his master showed up, it was a good thing. When the dog had an accident, he found he didn’t have to cower and cringe. He found that he could go to his new master and be forgiven. And when his master allowed something to happen to him that hurt, he still trusted the master knew what was best. Because he trusted his master, the dog was content to place his future into the master’s hand.
Do I need to explain the comparison? You and me, we have been adopted by God, brought into his family. Jesus’ death and resurrection has purchased us from our abusive master of sin and death, and the devil. By God’s love, believers have a new home where love abounds. Because God loves us, we can confidently place our future into His hands.. How about you?
This message from Rev. Clarence Eisbergis brought to you by Grace Lutheran Church, Web and Park Street, Mountain View, Arkansas. For prayer or more information, contact Pastor Kenneth Taglauer by email: [email protected]. A Pass it On Project , You can read more Sermon Central