THE 22ND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST AD 2019
TRINITY EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
REV. KURT E. REINHARDT
Luke 20:27-40 There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. And the second and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. Afterward the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.”
And 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 to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him any question.
So, Jesus, just how exactly is this going to work? Yes, when it comes to God’s things, it’s not just folks like the Sadducees who’ve got some tough questions for Jesus. I, and perhaps, you too, might have the odd one, that even if we might not be willing to actually speak it out loud, lies hidden in our hearts.
Sinful man from the get go has always had such questions for the Lord. They all flow from that one question, that was planted and took deep root in our hearts, when we listened to the Serpent’s “Did God really say?” Yes, those roots run deep and have only been strengthened in our so called “scientific” day and age, where our own experiences, thoughts and feelings are the only things that we trust to lead us into all truth.
Now, don’t get me wrong, science is a good gift of God. He created us after all with a desire to know and understand the world that we live in, so that we could discover and see His glory in all that He has made. Pondering the mysteries of creation in our own world and universe can and should move us to the deepest of awe before the God who created it all. The truth that we must keep in mind, however, is that such science can only discover so much.
Science and its all important method, where observations lead to conclusions that can be stated as truth, can take us a long way when it comes to creation but it cannot, no, it cannot give us anything outside of, or beyond it. We can discover and know plenty about the world around us and even about the stars above us from what we can see and observe, but beyond creation we simply don’t have anything and can’t get anywhere on our own.
Even when it comes to creation, science can really only lead us to the truth of how it is now, not how it was created and meant to be. Death is simply a part of life in this fallen world. Creation as we know it, in many ways depends on death, not only for the whole cycle of decay and renewal in places like the forest, but even for humanity, without death, there would be no room for new life.
Creation, as it is, simply wouldn’t work without death, but that doesn’t mean that, that was how it was meant to work, beloved. And when we have to face it in places other than the forest floor, as when it comes to those that we love, or even ourselves, there is something deep inside us that knows that there is something terribly wrong about it. Why else would even scientists be working so hard to try and stop it or at least slow it down?
No, death was not supposed to be a part of life. Sin gave us that. The life that God gave us in the beginning came from Him. Since He is eternal, all that comes from Him is eternal as well. The life that God gave us in the beginning was never meant to end. No, we brought that on ourselves, when we turned away from the God of the living. When we cut ourselves off from the source of all life, we brought death on ourselves and into the whole world.
What Jesus reveals to us this morning, is that from that moment all the data that we could get from observing the world around us got hopelessly messed up when it comes to figuring out what was or what will be. Certainly there are wonderful incredible things to learn about in the creation, fingerprints of our Lord and Maker to be discovered and be silenced into awe before, but, no, truth about what was and will be that cannot and will not be found outside of God’s Word.
So, Jesus, how exactly is that going to work? Yes, beloved, we can have a lot of questions and wonder about a lot of things, which is why the Lord in love and mercy has given us His Word. In it He gives us all that we need to know. No, it doesn’t have all that we want to know, because it is not a place where God answers to us. He is God after all and so answers to no one, no, not even to you or me. In it though, as our loving heavenly Father, He gives us what we need to know about what was, is and will be.
Just such a truth is given to us today in our Lord’s answer to the Sadducees about the resurrection of the dead. Here, the Lord firmly directs us with them away from our own thoughts and science when it comes to the life to come. He leaves us with no doubt that there will in fact be just such a resurrection - His own empty tomb along with the empty graves of many of the saints at the time of His resurrection puts a firm and final period after that answer. What that life will exactly will be like? No, that is not fully given to us.
Yes, there is a certain amount of “Just wait and see” when it comes to our Lord’s Word about the life and joys that He has prepared for us. It is a gift after all, and gifts are normally made richer rather than poorer by the element of surprise. It is a place where the Lord seeks to deepen us in the way of repentance, where we simply let Him be God and have all the answers without answering to us. As it a place where He seeks to lead us further into the life of faith, by asking us to trust in His goodness to go beyond our wildest dreams in all that He has planned for us.
The Lord Gives you a glimpse or sneak peak of that life at the altar today, when He comes to share His life with you by giving you His body and blood. Here, He shows you that in the resurrection, your body and life will be like His glorious body and life, because He’s preparing you for it already here at the altar. And as He unites you here with all who are united with Him, both in heaven and on earth, He hints and gives a foretaste of the fullness of the life of love that you will know in the new heavens and earth when, He wakens you from the grave.
So, Jesus, just how is this going to work? No, beloved, there are no need for such questions when your eyes and heart are focused on the Lord’s body and blood, that sets before you just how much the life that Christ has prepared for you cost Him. Out of this world? Yes, you could say that it will be that - on so many levels and in so many ways. Looking here and seeing what the Lord has done to get us out of the mess of sin and death, there can be no doubt that He can and will work out our lives in the resurrection in a beauty and harmony, that will put a joyful amen on our lips for all eternity! Amen.