IS THERE A RESURRECTION?
In our study in Mark, we are in the last week of Jesus earthly ministry, it is Tuesday to be precise. And this day has been and will continue to be packed with religious leaders confronting Jesus to try to catch Him, to trap Him, so His popularity would decrease, and even that He might be arrested and put to death. It is amazing how a person who is self-righteous in their faith can be so blind to the truths of God. They look down upon everyone else when, in reality, they are no different, except their hearts are hard and they refuse to let the truths of God pierce them so they may see God, the one they say they were worshiping!
The first group to confront Jesus was the Sanhedrin, which was made-up of various religious groups. And they questioned the authority of Jesus, who gave Him the right to do what He was doing! And Jesus put this group to silence, they had nothing else to say.
The second group to confront Jesus was a mixture of Pharisees and Herodians, who did not get along with each other except for this cause, to get Jesus. The Pharisees were the conservatives and the Herodians were the liberals. And they ask Jesus if it is okay to pay taxes to Caesar. And Jesus puts them to silence by telling them to give to Caesar that which is Caesars and to give to God that which is His, your life. Great answer, and they too had nothing else to say to Jesus.
On this same day a third group of religious people are going to come and confront Jesus. And this group comes in on the heals of the Pharisees and the Herodians leaving, after Jesus put them to silence. And this next group probably thought, "Amateurs! Watch and learn what a pro can do!" But this group had no idea who they were dealing with, the creator of heaven and earth!
1. The Sadducees were very wealthy, they occupied influential positions in the Sanhedrin, which is the Jewish supreme court, they oversaw the money changers in the temple, and they considered themselves as the "religious aristocrats" of Judaism. In saying that, how do you think they looked upon everyone else? They looked down upon everyone. They were smarter, wealthier and better than everyone else!
2. Being a religious group, what they believed was very strange, almost a contradiction. First of all they only accepted the first five books of Moses, Genesis through Deuteronomy, as authoritative. They denied any future judgments or rewards. They denied the existence of angels. The God they believed in didnt get involved with us. And, the point Mark brings out for us, they did not believe in the resurrection, so they were SAD-U-SEE!
3. In Acts chapter 23, as Paul is before the Sanhedrin, this Jewish supreme court, in attendance were Pharisees who who believed in all of the Scriptures, they believed in the resurrection, in angels, and-so-on. Also in attendance were the Sadducees who didnt. And beginning in verse 6 we read "But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged! And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the assembly was divided. For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection-- and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both. Then there arose a loud outcry. And the scribes of the Pharisees' party arose and protested, saying, We find no evil in this man; but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God." Acts 23:6-9.
Paul, who was a Pharisee, got these two groups of religious people fighting with each other, as if they were the ones on trial, when the reality is, Paul was the one who was on trial here. But you can see how strong they believed in these views, they would fight with each other over them.
1. Now this is interesting to me, out of all the books they could quote from, they use the book of Deuteronomy, part of the Pentateuch. The reason is simple, they did not believe in the rest of the Scriptures so they put forth this question to Jesus from the part of the Scriptures they believed were authoritative.
2. In Deuteronomy 25:5-10 the Lord is speaking of the levirate marriage or the husbands brother marrying. And the idea is this. If a husband marrys a woman and he dies without leaving a male heir, then his unmarried brother or nearest male relative who is not married, was to marry his widow. And, the first son of that union would be given the name of the dead brother and he was considered his child. This was done to prevent the extinction of a family line and to keep the family inheritance intact. Even before God spoke these words in Deuteronomy chapter 25, we see this being practiced by the sons of Judah in Genesis chapter 38. Was this still being practiced during the time of Jesus? We dont know, probably not because much of what was being practiced came from the traditions of man instead of the Word of God.
1. Now understand that everyone knew that the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection life, so this question they proposed to Jesus may have been one that they used often when they spoke to people who did believe in the resurrection. It was all prepared, very well rehearsed, and they used it often with positive results. Who could argue the point with them, it was a solid statement or question. So, in their self-righteous way, they give this question to Jesus, fully believing He is not going to be able to answer it either. Thus, they will be victorious and show these other amateurs how it is done!
2. The problem is this. If there is life after death, when you show up in heaven, things are going to be just a mess! Think about it, even if she only married twice, that would cause problems. I mean, what would happen? Would they fight it out, winner gets the wife? And these guys took it to the nth degree, 7 of these guys all marrying this woman and then dying. And in their minds, if they cant figure it out, if they dont understand it, then it cant be true! Clearly they were ridiculing those who believe in the resurrection!
3. When people approach God in this self-righteous unbelief, they make up ridiculous questions that are meaningless in the total picture. For instance, can God create a rock so big that He cant lift it? Either way, God loses! There are many things we cant understand with our finite minds, but that does not make them untrue. For instance, how many of you know how to do coronary artery by-pass surgery? None of you do! So, does that make this type of surgery untrue, not real? Of course not. Now, put it in Gods perspective, He is all-knowing, thus, can we understand everything about Him? Of course not! That is when faith comes in, we trust in what He has told us. It is as Paul said in Hebrews 11:6, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."
4. Now one more point before we move on. The question should not be whose wife will she be in the resurrection, but whats up with her cooking! Seven husbands are dead. Maybe someone needs to check the life insurance policy! An investigation needs to be done!
1. Jesus once again hits the nail on the head, He drives His point home. They have been deceived because they have walked away from the truth of God, found in the Word of God. And, secondly, they are deceived because they dont know the power of God, what He is able to do. It is as the Lord said in Genesis 18:14, "Is anything too hard for the LORD?..." Of course not! He is the creator of the heavens and the earth. He can do anything!
2. For people who try to challenge your faith, this is a great answer. First of all, what does God have to say about their question or statement in His Word? Check it out, share it with them. And, secondly, our God is big enough to accomplish anything. Dont limit what He can do!
3. Too often people try to figure out God completely, to understand His ways, what He is doing, and you cant. Isaiah 55:8-9 says "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." You see, two roads are seen. One road is faith, and faith believes that what God has promised He is also able to do. Faith trusts in God. And then the other road is unbelief, faithless, where a person tries to figure it all out and they cant. As Paul said in Ephesians 3:20-21, "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." May we apply that to our lives, may we believe it!
4. What did these Sadducees miss in the Scriptures? The resurrection life! In Psalm 17:15 David said "As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness." In Job 19:25-26 Job said "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God." In Daniel 12:2-3 we are told, "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever."
You see, if they only believed the Scriptures, they would have seen the resurrection life spoken of, but they didnt. Their eyes were closed to the truths of God. In fact, Abraham himself testified of the resurrection life. In Hebrews 11:17-19 we are told, "By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, In Isaac your seed shall be called, concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense." But again, their self-righteous attitude prevented them from seeing the truths of God found in the Word of God.
1. Now in Luke chapter 20, we are given a few more details of what Jesus said. Beginning in verse 34 we read "And Jesus answered and said to them, The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection." Luke 20:34-36. First of all, we must understand that there is this world and that world, this life and the life that is to come. In this life marriage and children are necessary in a world were death prevails so that the human race can continue on. Then, after these bodies go back to the dust of the earth, we are before the Lord where death will not occur any longer, and thus children and marriage are not necessary. That is not to say you wont know family and friends in heaven, you just wont be married.
2. Now Luke makes a interesting point, because not all will be children of God. Only "those who are counted worthy" will. And the idea here is not a worthiness by merit, working your way into heaven, but by appropriating the work of Christ into your lives by faith. Having Him be your Lord and Savior. You see, there is a resurrection life for those in Christ, they will spend eternity with the Lord. And there is a resurrection life for those outside of Christ, they will spend eternity apart from Him where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth! Your choice!
1. What books of the Bible did they believe in? The first five books of Moses, Genesis through Deuteronomy. So Jesus takes them to the Scriptures they believed in, Exodus chapter 3, the burning bush. Now think about this for a minute. Abraham lived for some 175 years and then he died. Isaac lived for some 180 years and he died. Jacob lived for some 147 years and he also died. And yet, here and in Exodus God says that He "is" their God, not "was" their God!
You see, how many of you would like to be king over the dead? Hopefully none of you! They would be a very stiff group of people. You want to be king over the living and that is exactly what Jesus is saying, they are not dead, but alive. The resurrection life is true, your own Scriptures testify of that. And in Matthew 22:33-34 we are told "And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching. But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together."
They tried to discredit Jesus before the people, but instead they were blown away by His teaching and may of the people were drawn to Him. Next time we are going to see one person, a scribe, question Jesus.
2. As we close this evening, let me leave you with these words from Paul in Philippians 3:20-21. He said "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself." That is what we are moving towards, being home with our Lord and Savior!