Happy Mother’s Day!
Almost everyone thinks about the afterlife.
What’s going to happen when you die?
The older you get, perhaps the more prone you are to think about it.
But I think many people just stop at the basics.
But have you actually spent much time thinking, or more importantly, studying, what it will be like?
Eternity is a long time, so I encourage you to look into it.
As we continue in our study of the Book of Luke in the Bible today, Jesus is going to give us a bit more detail on what life will be like for the Christian after they die
If you were here last week, you saw that Jesus’ opponents were trying to trap him with a trick question.
And it, obviously, failed.
This week, another group of people, the Sadducees are also going to try and get Jesus to stumble on a question
We talked a little bit about the Sadducees last week.
These were the people who were on the opposite end of the spectrum from the Pharisees.
The Pharisees were sticklers for following each and every letter of the law (plus a few extra they added), but the Sadducees were totally willing to adapt their faith to the changing society that the Romans were bringing in.
In many ways, the Sadducees are sort of ancient predecessors of the liberal or progressive “Christians” of our day
And I’m using those words, not in a political sense or to connect to a political affiliation, but that is the common label nowadays (a Progressive Christians) for those who say they are Christian and yet have abandoned many of the core tenets of Christianity so they could more fully embrace the culture
The Sadducees, like the Progressive Christian of today, believed in God, but not in the supernatural.
The Sadducees didn’t believe that God’s Word was 100% true either
They didn’t believe in miracles
And the Sadducees took it a step further, They didn’t even believe in the resurrection
Which is how you can remember their name.
They didn’t believe in the resurrection, so they were so Sad-U-See ☺
The Sadducees, like many of today, were spiritual, really in name only.
They weren’t quite ready to give up their faith, but their real “god” was the culture and fitting in with it.
And so they don’t like Jesus because He’s openly challenging their authority on spiritual matters.
Okay, let’s take a look at this passage in God’s Word
By the way, if you don’t have a Bible…I want you to take this one with you when you leave today.
That’s our gift to you.
We have people take these Bibles almost every week…so seriously, take one and start reading it.
There’s even a little Bible reading plan taped to the inside cover that will show you the best place to start
(Luke 20:27-40) – NIV
27 Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 28 “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 raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”
34 Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37 But in the account of the burning 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.’ 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”
39 Some of the teachers of the law responded, “Well said, teacher!” 40 And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
ANOTHER “TOUGH” QUESTION
Okay, let’s start by examining the question that the Sadducees are trying to stump Jesus with
They come up to Jesus with this wild scenario…
They’re trying their best to prove to Jesus that the resurrection…the idea that we go somewhere else to be with God after death…is a illogical concept that doesn’t make sense when you actually play it out.
And while attempting to do this, they refer to a law in the Old Testament from Deuteronomy Chapter 25
Many of these laws from Deuteronomy, like much of the “law section” of the Old Testament, were specifically for the Israelites and the governing of their nation, and so they aren’t binding on Christians today.
If you want to learn more about that concept (what do we and do we not apply from the OT), check out a message on our website from our Rescue Series on the Book of Exodus.
It’s called, “The Bible Says That?!”
Now, this particular law that the Sadducees are referring to is basically just how they explained it:
If a woman’s husband died, his brother was to marry her.
And their first son together would carry on the name of the brother who died…so that the dead brother’s family line could continue.
It’s a law that doesn’t make sense to us in a wealthy, modern, individualistic culture
But in an ancient, agrarian culture, where it was extremely difficult for women to independently support themselves…
This law from Deuteronomy was actually a merciful provision…a way of God looking out for the woman, so that she would still be cared for in their society.
And by bringing up a scenario where a woman at the resurrection would know 7 men, who were all once her husband, the Sadducees are convinced that they’ve proved how nonsensical the idea of a resurrection and afterlife is.
But they’re about to meet their match (and then some!) in the brilliance of Jesus
THE POWER OF GOD
And as we study Jesus’ response, I want to point you to the book of Matthew.
Matthew also recounts this interaction, but chooses to include an additional response of Jesus, which is really helpful.
(Matthew 22:29) – NIV
29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.
I LOVE THIS VERSE!
And it’s an such an astute summary of people today who call themselves Christians but are deviating away from the actual truths of God’s Word
They don’t really KNOW the Scriptures nor do they understand the POWER OF GOD!
The fact that the Sadducees didn’t understand the Power of God is especially evident.
They can’t seem to be able to even imagine the good “things that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2)
Before we go any further, let’s look again at Jesus explanation of life in heaven for the believer:
(Luke 20:34-36) – NIV
34 Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.
Jesus says that in heaven we will neither marry nor be given in marriage (marriage, as a designation, will cease).
It’s a bit of a startling statement, isn’t it?
Let me first tackle why this feels so startling to us.
For many people, when we think of heaven, we mostly picture life being similar to here, slightly better, but just in heaven…but with more clouds and such.
Our view of heaven isn’t really all that developed.
But heaven isn’t going to just be a continuation of earth.
I read this thought from Alistair Begg this week, and I thought it was really good
The afterlife isn’t just resuscitation, it’s a complete transformation
It isn’t just that God brings you back to life…and you just continue on in a nicer place.
Everything is better.
I mentioned this winter that I had been reading the Chronicles of Narnia to my twins, and we just finished last month.
The last few chapters of C.S. Lewis’ last book in the Series, The Last Battle is some of the most brilliant writing I’ve ever seen.
Outside of Scripture, it’s the most inspiring writing on heaven that I’ve ever read.
The characters’ beloved land of Narnia is destroyed, much like our earth will be pretty much destroyed by the end of the world described in the book of Revelation.
But then, at death, they are taken to a place that looks very similar to their land of Narnia, but 100% better in every way.
Much like the Bible describes how at the end of our world, heaven will come down to earth and renew it.
And one of the characters upon experiencing resurrection and seeing the new version of his old land, says this:
“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this. - “The Last Battle” (Chronicles of Narnia)
Much of heaven, or eventually heaven on earth, will look and feel a lot like that.
The same, but better…and everything will be better.
And infinitely better than you can imagine
It will be God’s Kingdom…fully realized…and we’ll be in His presence!
This passage on marriage & heaven brings up a lot of questions, but let me answer one big one before we dive deeper into what Jesus is saying about marriage”
The one question that many think of reading this is: “Will we even know each other at all then?
I think the Scriptures teach clearly that we will
I mean, look at this very passage
Verse 37, God says He’s the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
He doesn’t say that He’s the God of people who were formerly known as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob back when they were alive
Not the God of 3 anonymous spirts who now have no identity.
No, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (now alive in heaven) are still Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the people who knew them on earth would recognize them as so when they got to heaven
We saw in Luke 16, when Jesus told the story about the rich man going to hell, that even in hell, he was still aware of his family relationships…for he begged someone to go back and warn his family
In 2 Samuel 12, when King David is mourning over his infant son who died, he says that in the future, “I will go to him”
He’s expecting not only to see his son again, but to recognize him
And there are plenty of other examples too
So the answer to the question of “Will we know each other?” …
Is, “Yes, absolutely”
But the big question of this passage is:
“If we will know each other, but marriage isn’t going to exist in the same sort of way…then won’t heaven somehow be less happy?”
Especially if you’re happily married, this teaching can almost feel like a letdown
Because here, on earth, marriage is such a big part of our lives.
We think often about our marriages
Kids grow up dreaming up who they will marry
Single people wonder if they will marry, and if so, who, when?
So much of earthly life revolves around marriage
So the idea that marriage would cease to matter, and life could somehow still be better, is a bit baffling to us
But realize, that on earth, marriage is always meant (read Timothy Keller’s book, “The Meaning of Marriage”)…marriage is meant to be an illustration of something that points to our greater marriage with Christ (Ephesians 5)
Jesus is the Groom, and we, the church, are His bride
And the moment we meet him in the afterlife (we covered this in Luke 14) is called the great wedding feast.
And as that new life begins, there will be no more need for an illustration, or a shadow, or an example of that perfect marriage because we’ll finally have the supreme and perfect relationship with Jesus.
And so I want you to trust Jesus here as He teaches on this.
You will not be disappointed with how He has structured things in heaven.
I think of it like this:
if you were to ask a young kid: “What’s the greatest earthly pleasure you can imagine?”
They will probably say something like, “Candy! Chocolate!”
Now, as adults, we are know that in terms of purely physical pleasure, there are some greater pleasures (in a Godly, married context)
But if you talked to a kid, and said, “Can you even imagine anything greater than a huge bowl of candy!”
They’ll probably say, “NO, I CAN NOT!”
And, literally, they can’t.
Their brain neither has the knowledge of it nor the ability to comprehend something greater
And it’s similar with us as we ponder what lies ahead in heaven.
What exactly is it going to be like (especially with marriage being different)?
I’m not 100% sure, but I know it’s going to be way better than any of the candies of this world.
John Piper says it this way:
“If the age to come is not only an improvement over the worst of this world, but (also) over the best, then the end of marriage is spectacularly good news. Do you see this? Marriage in this age, at its best, offers some of life’s most intense pleasures, and sweetest intimacies. If you have ever tasted these, or have ever dreamed of tasting them, then you can feel the astonishing force of the promise that marriage will be no more because it was too weak to carry God’s best eternal pleasures.” - John Piper
The relationship, the fellowship, you will have with God there will be so amazing, so pleasurable, so deeply satisfying, that even marriage (which delivers some of life’s highest highs) won’t even be necessary
And please remember, many people aren’t married. Many people have marriages that aren’t very fulfilling.
And realize that for many of Jesus’ original hearers, marriage was primarily a social contract that provided security, stability, and flourishing for their family line. Love & affection quite often ended up being a distant 2nd & 3rd.
But in heaven, that longing that we have for affection, deep love, to be known and cared for, will be provided directly from God Himself.
So, will you be married in heaven?
The answer is, “Yes,”
Heaven is the never-ending wedding feast
And for those of you that are married, I don’t think you have to feel sad over what your relationship with your spouse will be like in heaven either
Marriage as a designation will become unimportant
But the Bible’s teaching of the afterlife isn’t that your other relationships fall away
They just aren’t the main way you classify yourself anymore
Your relationship with your spouse isn’t downgraded, if anything, remember that the teaching on heaven is that everything is upgraded.
The streets are gold, the river is as clear as crystal, God’s light is so great, we don’t even need the sun.
Everything is enhanced…things aren’t going backwards.
I believe you will feel even closer to your spouse in heaven…
It’s just that the ways we defined ourselves on earth won’t feel that important anymore
Your relationship will be first and foremost to Jesus
And so for some of you (or perhaps others of you in the future) there are even real, earthly practical applications to this message
If your spouse dies, and you feel led by God to marry another believer, you can feel the freedom to do so
You need not fear any awkwardness or jealousy in heaven…those things won’t exist there.
And besides, in heaven, we’re married to Christ, and our whole world will be defined by that, not a marriage to another person.
Now, this is interesting stuff here because what we’re trying to do is study the Bible.
We’re looking deep at Luke Chapter 20.
I encourage you to go home and read the very last 2 chapters of the Bible.
Revelation 21 & 22…you’ll learn much about how heaven will come to earth and renew it (a new heaven and a new earth)
But let me ask you something, isn’t it interesting how people speak so confidently of what heaven will be like (and who will be there) without ever having studied it??
This is exactly the kind of thing that Jesus is speaking against here in this passage…it’s exactly what he’s trying to correct the Sadducees of.
The Sadducees think they KNOW, but they haven’t truly studied the Scriptures.
“They don’t know the Scriptures or the POWER of God.”
And don’t we do the same thing?
When someone dies, where do we say they go?
Almost everyone says, “There in a better place.”
We say, “She’s with Grandma now. He’s in heaven playing baseball like old times. They’re smiling down on us”
How do you know any of those things?
I’m not trying to be offensive, I’m trying to ask a serious question.
But many people, (what 95% of Americans?) speak with the uttermost confidence on these things, even though most have never even opened a Bible.
It’s an odd thing, and I daresay an unwise thing, to base where you will be for all of eternity off of speculation.
My friend, do not make that monumental mistake.
~You are going to spend forever in either heaven or hell.
It’s not something to guess about.
Please, if you’re not ABSOLUTELY sure about where you are going to spend eternity, take a Bible with you today and read it, examine it, study it for yourself.
Don’t just take my word for it
There’s nothing more important you could learn in this life than learning how to prepare for eternity.
The truth is that God sent his Son Jesus to die for you.
(John 3:16) – NIV
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
You do not get to heaven by being a good person or simply just because you believe you will go there.
It’s by believing that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins in your place…and turning your life over to Him.
And you can make that decision at any time.
But there is no better time than the present.
In fact, if you want to make that decision today you can.
Here’s what we’ll do.
After this message is over, I’m going to go out into the lobby during the last song or 2
And if you’re ready to be saved, to commit your life to Christ, and receive the gift of eternal life.
Just sneak out of your seat, and walk out there…
I’ll pray with you, and get you started on this journey.
Let me pray
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.