Children of the Resurrection (Luke 20:27-38)
While I was in college in the early ’90’s, there was a kind family who worshiped with us at the Florence Boulevard church. Ronnie served as one of our deacons. I think Ronnie may have been over the educational department, but I can’t remember for sure. Ronnie was a local artist and he taught art in the local high school–the church building was always nicely decorated with Ronnie’s art.
I had not kept up with Ronnie over the years. However, shortly after the family and I moved to Florence, I saw Ronnie at a gospel meeting or something. Ronnie remembered me and said, “Well, Justin, what’s it like to work with my daughter?” He could tell by the confused look on my face that I had no idea I was working with his now-married daughter who had a different last name. Anna worked in the president’s office as the “Assistant to the President.” Anna has also left the university, but she and I are Facebook friends.
This past Monday night, Anna posted that she was thankful God had spared her dad who had suffered a massive heart attack that day. It just so happened that Monday was also Ronnie and Pat’s thirtieth wedding anniversary. Surgery was performed Monday, and all was well. Ronnie was stable and making improvement. About 3:00 am on Tuesday morning, Ronnie suffered another heart attack and died.
To me, it’s so sad that Ronnie suffered his heart attack on his thirtieth wedding anniversary. That was a day that should have been filled with hope and promise for the future. Yet, he left a widow to grieve. But, she grieves in hope. Ronnie was a faithful child of the King, and he now awaits the Resurrection. Whoever preaches Ronnie’s funeral will not have that difficult a task. There will be real pain from his family and friends–I don’t mean to diminish that pain in the least. Yet, Ronnie’s life was an example of what a Christian’s life should be and that makes the preacher’s task so much easier.
You’ve attended many funerals, some of you have attended funerals for those dearer to you than life. Isn’t there a big difference in the funerals of those who die in Christ and those who die outside of Christ? Don’t you feel much differently when you attend the funeral for a child of the resurrection?
In this morning’s text, the Sadducees attempt to trick Jesus by asking Him about the resurrection. I know that just a couple weeks ago, I preached on Sunday night from Matthew’s account of this same event. But, Matthew and Luke tell about this episode in vastly different ways. Matthew’s account emphasizes the religious error of the Sadducees–since we talked about that a couple weeks ago, we’ll barely mention that this morning. Luke emphasizes the hope of the resurrection.
That’s the message we wish to hear this morning. Jesus has an important message even for us in this day and age. That lesson? “You need to be worthy of the resurrection.” All bodies are going to be resurrected–Jesus tells us so (Jn 5:28-29). Obviously, the context is that we need to be worthy of the “resurrection of life.”
Text (Luke 20:27-38)
- verses 27-33:Marriage like what the Sadducees mentioned was common in Jesus’ day. It was required by the Law of Moses (Deut 25:5). The purpose of such marriage was for the economic and social protection of women who could not earn an income in antiquity.The Sadducees believe that in the resurrection this woman must be married to one of the brothers.
- verse 34:Marriage is only for this world. That makes perfect sense if you stop and think about it. One of the purposes of marriage is procreation (Gen 1:28); there will be no need for reproduction when there is no more world. Another purpose is companionship (Gen 2:18-24); when this world is no more, we will have the companionship of God Himself. Another purpose of marriage is to avoid temptation (1 Cor 7:1-9); there will be no temptation after this world is destroyed.
- verses 35-36:“Those who are counted worthy to attain to that age, and the resurrection from the dead.” This phrasing has caused me no small consternation his week. I have always preached that we are not worthy of eternal life, that we deserve hell. You know that is so very true. However, we need to live a life that is worthy of eternal life. “You may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God” (2 Thess 1:5). “We also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling” (2 Thess 1:11).Not only do we not marry in the next world, but we cannot die anymore. I love the Greek text here. It literally reads: “It is impossible for them to die any more.” In the resurrection, it will not be possible for us to die any more. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57. “We know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor 5:1).”They are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” In the resurrection, we will be like the angels–just as angels do not marry, we shall not marry. We will be sons of God. I think the mention here that we will be (future tense) sons of God has to do with a new relationship with the Father. Some ways our relationship will be new: sin will never again damage it, we shall see our Father, and we shall be with Him for eternity.We will be sons of the resurrection–we will be children of God who experience the resurrection of the dead.
- verses 37-38:The fact the Moses records that God is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob means that He is the God of the living.”All live to Him.” What does Jesus mean by that statement? There are two possibilities:
- One: All the righteous are alive to God.The righteous live in Paradise now and await the resurrection. Jesus has just mentioned Abraham, Isaac and Jacob of whom that is true.
- Two: He speaks of everyone who has ever lived: the righteous and the unrighteous.We know that Scripture calls the future state of the wicked the second death. We also know, however, that those in torment are conscious–just ask the rich man who asked for a drop of water to cool his tongue. That is a sobering thought–No matter where you spend eternity, you will be aware of your surrounding forever.
Therefore, “You need to be worthy of the resurrection.” There are a couple ways we need to go this morning: one is action and the other is hope.
- Action: Live worthy of the resurrection.
- To live worthy of the resurrection, you must be “in Christ.”“As in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Cor 15:22). As we mentioned last week, there is only one way to get into Christ: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal 3:27).If you are not “in Christ,” let me urge you to be baptized into Christ today. If you are not sure whether or not you are in Christ, see me or one of the elders so that we can help you be absolutely certain. Understand that if you don’t get things right in this life, there is no other opportunity. It is absolutely imperative that you are worthy and ready for the resurrection.
- To live worthy of the resurrection, you must watch the company you keep.1 Corinthians 15:32-33. Throughout 1 Corinthians 15, Paul is defending the truthfulness of the resurrection against some in Corinth who say that there is no resurrection of the dead. In light of the truthfulness of the resurrection, Paul says, “You’d better be careful who your friends are. You’d better be careful whom you allow to influence you.”You need to take a very close look at who your friends are. Are you allowing those friends to influence you for evil? Are you influencing those friends for good?If you ever plan on getting married, that’s something to take into serious consideration. I have seen many spouses drag the other spouse away from the Lord. Personally, as difficult as marriage is, I can’t imagine sharing it with someone who doesn’t love the Lord.
- To live worthy of the resurrection, you must put away sin.“Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame” (1 Cor 15:34). We’ve talked about the need to rid ourselves of sin recently; therefore, I will simply say make absolutely certain you are ridding your life of sin.
- To live worthy of the resurrection, you must press on.Philippians 3:11-12. We can’t quit being a Christian–we can’t let our disappointments and failures get the best of us–we must keep pressing on.
- Hope: Your body is going to be different in the resurrection.Jesus says that our bodies will be vastly different. We’ll never die in that age and we won’t marry. 1 Corinthians 15:42-53. All your aches and pains, all your physical difficulties will be no more in the resurrection. What a blessed hope!
Are you a child of the resurrection? Are you worthy of the resurrection?