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"Ridiculous Reasoning and Resurrection Reality"

June 5/16 Luke 20:27-40


Emmanuel Bible College has a slogan, “We Do Different”. As Christians in general, too, ‘we do different’ - Romans 12:2 advises us, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world...” But that difference, that non-conformity, may make us stick out like sore thumbs. And visible differences draw criticism.

      At ministerial this past week, our host shared a book in which one of the “fishing tips” the author offered churches was, “connect with culture”. One illustration featured a blackboard sidewalk-display on which this clergyperson wrote, “We Don’t Do Guilt.” Apparently this held appeal to some who had never attended or quit going to church. But if you ‘don’t do guilt’, what do you do with the Bible’s teachings about sin? Does all that just get tossed out the window, so you’re left with only those passages that seem non-judgmental? And if there’s no such thing as sin, who needs a Saviour?

      Lately I’ve been feeling increasingly out-of-step with culture, rather than connecting with it. Some examples: an EFC webinar about pornography related that 52% of men feel it’s OK to view porn. Uh-uh! That’s a pathway into a multibillion dollar industry that victimizes and objectifies women and destroys souls. Recently one of our country’s political parties resolved to remove opposition to same-sex marriage from its platform, even though several Biblical passages are against such practice. Even heterosexual marriage is being snubbed; Jesus said in Luke 20:34, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage.” Yet StatsCan tells us, “In the 10-year period from 2001 to 2011, married couples dropped from 70.5% to 67.0% of all census families.In contrast, the proportion of census families that were common-law increased from 13.8% to 16.7% during the same period.” And this past week, headlines in science contained the news that “The Rosetta orbiter has detected some of the molecular building blocks for life on a comet, bolstering the theory that life on Earth could have been seeded by a small solar system body...” Still quite a leap to get from a single amino acid to self-replicating cells, but non-theists grasp at anything that would avoid the sort of accountability inherent in a Biblical creation narrative.

      The more our Biblical worldview clashes with a secular one, the more we can expect questions, criticism, sarcasm, and even to be made the butt of jokes.

      Jesus had his critics, too; those who operated under different theological assumptions. After His triumphal entry into Jerusalem and subsequent clearing of the Temple, He came under attack from a variety of groups. In Luke 20:1 it’s the chief priests, teachers of the law (scribes), and elders. In 20:20 there are spies, as Matthew 22:15f tells us sent by the Pharisees and Herodians. In 20:27 come the Sadducees, and Matthew (22:34) tells us these are followed by the Pharisees. Everyone was trying to pick holes in this upstart rabbi from Galilee.

      Today we’re focusing on the episode with the Sadducees, who we’ll call “Con Men” - controlling, confining, condensing, and compromising (well, that last is almost a ‘con’!). Controlling - the Sadducees controlled the high priesthood and held the majority of seats in the Sanhedrin. Confining - they figured ‘life is all there is’, they didn’t believe in the resurrection or the afterlife. Condensing - they accepted only the first 5 books of the Hebrew Scriptures (the ‘Pentateuch’), and rejected the oral tradition taught by the Pharisees. And, compromising - they were an aristocratic, politically minded group, willing to compromise with secular and pagan leaders. “Let’s make a deal...” Since they figured this life is all there is, they were out to make a buck or two, as much as they could; and since they profited from the selling of animals and exchanging of money at the Temple, they wouldn’t have taken kindly to Jesus clearing its courts.

      In some ways, they are representative of many in our culture today, who likewise assume ‘this life is all there is’. Naturalism holds the only reality is what you can see and feel, none of this spirit-world business. There’s the expression YOLO - “You Only Live Once” - which can become an excuse giving permission to do all sorts of things. Our naturalist friends may look oddly at us Christians when we hold back from engaging in activities which, to them, seem pleasurable and appealing; “If it feels good, do it” as long as it doesn’t bother the horses sort of thing. Holding back may draw criticism or at least heckling and uncomfortable jibes. “Whatsa matter, you too good for us?”

      The Apostle Paul tried to prepare the church at Corinth for walking a different path than their orgy-loving neighbours. He conceded that, if there was no such thing as physical resurrection, Christianity was a waste of effort. 1Cor 15:13f, 17,19,32b: “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith...And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins...If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men...If the dead are not raised, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die."” Or, as you might hear today - “Party hearty!”

      So, be prepared for “Con Men” in your own life: not Sadducees maybe, but people who come from different backgrounds that may not have heard of Christianity or just don’t accept the Bible’s account of Jesus’ resurrection. How are you going to explain that His being raised makes such a difference?


The Sadducees came to Jesus with a question - though it was a bit contrived and convoluted and takes 6 verses to unpack. Luke 20:28-33 “"Teacher," they said, "Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. The second and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. Finally, the woman died too. Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?"”

      SERIOUSLY? What would be the odds of this ACTUALLY happening? You can tell by the format it’s more of a theoretical question, hypothetical, than actual. Perhaps it was a stock in-house joke the Sadducees told amongst themselves to have a good laugh at the Pharisees and their belief in a resurrection.

      Their starting point was correct – the bit about a man having to marry his brother’s widow in order to have children who would inherit the brother’s property and carry on the family name. Deuteronomy 25:5 “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.”

      But after that point, all common sense flies out the window, as Jesus’ challengers push the story to an absurd conclusion. Would you agree they seem a tad - insincere? Are they trying to have a joke, a good laugh, at the Teacher’s expense? Remember, these are pragmatists we’re talking about here, hardnosed businessmen who have little use for complex religious teaching.

      In our day, there may be many types of questions raised by skeptics. They may be trying to have a joke at our expense. They may be insincere, not really wanting or expecting an answer. Or their question may be a smokescreen, covering up deeper issues. Can I trust you? “I’ve been hurt by church folk in the past – ‘stuck-up SOBs’ – and I need to know if you’re going to knife me like they did.” A skeptic by their question may be testing us to see, (a) our intellectual capability: can we make a reasonable defence of our faith? 1Peter 3.15 “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.But do this with gentleness and respect...”

      The skeptic may also be testing us to determine, (b) Will you take me seriously? If you don’t have an answer off the top of your head, are you willing to take some time and do some digging, in order to help me with a question that’s important to me?

      The website CARM.ORG - Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry - lists several questions skeptics commonly ask. Here’s a sampling. Would you be ready to offer some reply to these?•Since the NT writers were biased, can we trust what they wrote?

      Hasn't the Bible been rewritten so many times it can't be trusted?

      If there is a good God, why is there evil and suffering in the world?

      What type of God would kill the firstborn of Egypt?

      If God knew people would sin, why did He make them?

      Why is Jesus the only way to Heaven/God?

      What makes you think Christianity is the only way to God?

      Why do you believe in Jesus but not Santa Claus?

      I believe in reincarnation, so why do I need Christianity?

Good questions to think about – and ponder how you’d answer if a skeptic asked you. Is your faith sturdy enough to withstand some scrutiny? What Bible passages might be helpful to refer to, or even have memorized?


We noted the Sadducees’ question seemed disingenuous - fake - hokey - insincere. But what’s interesting is Jesus’ response. He actually answers their question. He doesn’t blow them off, say “PFFF!” and walk away muttering, “I created the world and knowledge and the human mind – come back another day when you have a serious question!” No, He deals with them where they are, on their terms.

       Notice He meets them where they’re at. They only accept the first 5 books of the Bible; where’s Jesus quote from? Exodus 3:6, second book of the Bible, one they would accept as authoritative. When Paul is preaching to the people of Athens in Acts 17, to what writings does he refer? He doesn’t lay on them John 3:16 – hadn’t even been written yet! Acts 17:23 “For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” He started with something written in their midst, on a pagan altar. What else? 17:28 “‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’” These are quotes from the Cretan poet Epimenides, and the Cilician poet Aratus. Paul started where the people were at.

       Jesus met the Sadducees on their terms. But He didn’t leave them there: He plugged the gaps in their understanding, supplying new information. Luke 20:34-36a “Jesus replied, "The people of this age marry and are given in marriage.But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels.”

       Here He’s challenging them to expand their appreciation of what God has revealed: you may recall, another thing the Sadducees disputed was whether angels existed. Jesus, who alone came from the Father’s right hand in heaven, here pulls back the curtain a bit and gives us a privileged glimpse of the afterlife – something only One who came from there, and/or who made it, could know.

       Married people - note marriage is only for this age, not the next. If your spouse is a believer, you would be able to recognize them and be acquainted with them in heaven, but the relationship won’t have a physical connection and exclusivity like it does now.

       Note this is quite a contrast to Islam, where between the Qu’ran and hadith (sayings) devout men are promised 72 virgins in paradise, abounding sexual pleasure, etc. That unfortunately becomes a common motivator for suicide bombers. That’s not the Christian hope!

       So Jesus answers the seven-husbands-whose-wife-is-she conundrum. But He doesn’t stop there. He goes on to confront the Sadducees deeper issue, what’s at stake more fundamentally: the resurrection itself. This life is NOT all there is. He would prove that in His own person after His crucifixion. Acts 1:3 “After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”

       Standing in front of the Sadducees, face to face with them, was Him who had the power of eternal life in Himself. He told Martha just before raising Lazarus from the dead in John 11:25f, “I am the resurrection and the life.He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”

       But of course, for the Sadducees, He can’t show them something that hasn’t happened yet - His own resurrection. So He appeals to other evidence. He reaches back into Exodus 3:6 and parks on a passage they’d be very familiar with. Lk 20:36b-38 “They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

       Do you see His point? By listing Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God is saying they are all alive to Him then-and-there, the 3 patriarchs are not dead to Him. It comes through more clearly in Mark 12:26 “Now about the dead rising— have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?” The verb tense is PRESENT not PAST - “I was their God, though they’re dead now.” No, “I AM their God” - still; they’re alive to Me. To be a child of God is to BE “a child of the resurrection” – Jesus equates the terms in v36: literally, “They are God’s children BEING children of the resurrection.”

       Have you let this sink into your core, if you’re a believer in Christ – “I AM a child of the resurrection”? My life is a line that goes on forever – this earthly life is just the dot at the start of a neverending line? Kind of puts a different perspective on things. That dying vehicle, that destroyed house, that cancer spot – these are all just TEMPORARY, just things that pass away, here a moment then gone. But YOU are forever – receemed and renewed in a post-death glorious spiritual body by Christ!


A funeral this past week featured a song written by Jimmie Davis called “When It’s Roudup Time in Heaven” which goes like this:

“Twill be sweet when we meet at Jesus’ feet

With no heartaches no pains no sigh

When they comb heaven's plains will they find your name

At the great roundup in the sky?”

       Significant question, indeed – “WILL they find YOUR name at the great roundup in the sky?” Implies not everyone gets in automatically. Jesus suggests as much in v35: “But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage...” How do you know if you’re “considered worthy”? Does it depend on the cleverness of our apologetics, what smart answers we can come up with when defending Christianity? Is it like the Muslim view where good deeds and bad are weighed on some divine scale? (Qu’ran Reference: {Then as for him whose balance (of good deeds) will be heavy, He will live a pleasant life (in Paradise).But as for him whose balance (of good deeds) will be light, He will have his home in Hawiyah (pit, i.e. Hell).And what will make you know what it is? (It is) a hot blazing Fire!} [101:6-11].)

       No, for Christians, it’s not a sizing up of good or bad deeds. We are sinners in constant need of forgiveness and grace. The Good News of the New Testament is that we can be saved – and assured of salvation – through trusting in Jesus, who died for our sins. John 1:12 “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God...”

       One time Jesus used little children as an example of trusting faith rather than earned merit. Mark 10:14-15 [Jesus said] “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

       It’s NOT for the “Con Men” – those who are controlling, confining, condensing, compromising – but for those who put their sole confidence in Jesus’ love for them and His sacrifice at the cross. That is enough for you to be ‘considered worthy’.


As Babe Ruth approached the twilight of his career, he was playing in Cincinnati. He was now striking out more often than getting hits, and his play had deteriorated to the point that he was actually getting booed by fans. On one such occasion, after striking out, Babe was walking dejectedly back to the dugout amidst the boos of the crowd. Suddenly a small boy, tears running down his face, ran onto the field and threw his arms around Babe's legs. Ruth smiled at the boy, reached down and took him into his arms, talking to him as they continued to the dugout. The booing ceased. The crowd was so touched by this spectacle that they silently stood in tribute.

       We’re both characters in that story, in a way. Jesus wants us to just throw our arms around Him and receive Him like that little boy. Yet we are also the player getting booed for our failure, while God runs after us like the father after the prodigal son, sweeping us up in grace despite our faults. Sweeping us up to be at home with Him forever in resurrection hope. Let’s pray.