SER # 35V
FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY
22ND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 10TH 2019
TEXTS: LUKE 20: 27 – 38
THEME: TRADITIONS VS THE GOSPEL
Today is organ and Tissue Donor Sunday. I hope some of us here have given a thought towards this worth mission. I believe it takes more than just having it on the driver’s license. We also would like to welcome our mission team from Jamaica back home. We have been praying for you and we hope God was able to use you while you were there.
In our bible story today brings us to a moment where a group called the Sadducees wanted to trap Jesus. “The teachers of the law and the chief priest looked for a way to arrest him………” (Luke 20:19a). They therefore, agreed to send some spies to trap Jesus. “Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so they might hand him over to the powers and authority of the governor” (Luke 20:20). But Jesus outsmarted them each time. There were several groups that existed in Jesus time. These were religious groups formed during the period between the Testaments when Maccabees ruled Judah. They were the aristocrats of the time. They were the party of the rich and the high priest families. They were in charge of the Temple and its services. They claimed their origin from Zadok who was a high priest in the time Solomon. As you read the bible you will see them (Sadducees) standing in opposition with Pharisees which was another Jewish party. The Pharisees had no political ambitions and were content with any government. They accepted the scriptures plus all other details. They believed in the resurrection they even believed in the hope of the coming of the Messiah. Though these groups never agreed on many things, but when it came to getting Jesus out of their way, they combined the fight. The Sadducees focused on conserving the beliefs and practices of the past. They accepted the Pentateuch the first five books of the Bible as the absolute authority. They were materialistic in their outlook. They did not believe in life after death or any reward or punishment beyond this life. They denied the existence of Angel and demons, they did not believe in the spirit. They did not even believe that God was concerned with what people did and hence people were totally free. They supported the ruling party whichever was in power because they did not want their position or wealth threatened. So, they strongly opposed the work of Jesus.
When Jesus therefore came with the teaching of life after death or rather talking about resurrection, they fought against it and were looking for ways to disapprove the theory. Maybe little did they know themselves that Jesus was going to die and be resurrected. They therefore, felt their religious position being threatened by what Jesus was teaching. That is why they set up this scenario for Jesus so as to put this teaching of resurrection to a stop. It was like the earlier trap where they had asked Jesus if they needed to pay taxes to Caesar (Luke 20: 20-26). They never even believed in the coming of the Messiah. Jesus reminded them of Moses writing in Exodus 3:1-6 where God was reminding Moses that he was God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God is not God of the dead but of the living. No wonder that the Sadducees could be said to be “sad” since they miss the joy and hope and happiness after this life. The scenario is easy. It is a woman who died having been married 7 times by brothers each at a time after the other dies. The Sadducees were in this case referring to levirate law of marriage or wife inheritance which said, “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.” (Deuteronomy 25:5) They wanted to make sure that Jesus understood that there were no children involved. In those days, polygamy was an accepted practice. Even today there are some tribes that practice wife inheritance or Levirate law lifestyle especially in Africa. We all agree marriage is s very important institution that was God’s idea (Genesis 2:20-25) but was meant only for the life on this world not in heaven. Therefore, when God ordained marriage, he meant it to be an institution that people got involved in this world.
What are some of the practical things can we learn from this text?
- All Children of God: Remember the premise of the Sadducees is of ownership. We will all be God’s children and no more husband and wife responsibilities. No one will be making coffee or dealing with dirty clothes for the other. Jesus does not mean we will not recognize our spouses and those we knew from this earth, but rather our relationship will not be like the one we have on this earth. There are three things that transcends to next life and they are: faith, hope and love and the greatest of all is love (1 Corinthians 13: 13). In the next life there will be faith hope and love living everyday. With this understanding then we know in next life we will also relate as equals before God or gender or earthly ties will not count before God. That is why it is a wrong teaching when some religions teach that if you kill a Christian or non-believe once you get to heaven you will be given seven virgins. Unless they are talking about of another heaven not the one of the Bible we preach from (Corinthians 15:12-19). There will be no division based on; social status, human achievement, royal lineage, political affiliations, what we owned, color of the skin (or hair), continent of origin or language spoken. Our age will not matter anymore even. Our wealth or education will have no place. It will be a new order. We may not fully understand how things will be like or look like as long as we are in this world and in this body but once we get there we will see clearly. Paul put it even better when he writes “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now we know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
- New life New Responsibilities: Death is a transition to living. Therefore, death is not the end but a new beginning with new ways. Our responsibility will no longer be serving others but serving God. “After I looked and there before me a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and I front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belong to God, who sits on the throne, and the Lamb………..Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in the Temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them” (Rev. 7:9-10, 15). In the next life we will not be doing the same things that we do on this earth and therefore we are reminded that we need to do our best on those things that belong here. If you are married while on this earth, enjoy the marriage and what comes with it for it will not be there anymore in the next life. The good news though is that those who their loved one have already gone to heaven will meet them but their relationship will not be that of a husband and wife father and child or mother and a child. Maybe we will be like brother and sister to borrow a revival term expressing brotherly and sisterly love.
- New Life with No Pain: In the New City: Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd. He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev 7:16-17). There will be no more darkness, no more sea. I like this part of the new life. My back will no longer hurt, no arthritis, no more hearing aids, glasses or anything that we use to enhance our living in this world. That is why they talk of the new Jerusalem a city not build by human hand but by God where gate never close day or night. Our relationship with other creatures will change. Prophet Isaiah says; “The wolf and the lamb will feed together and the lion will eat straw like the Ox, but dust will be the serpent food. They will neither harm nor destroy on the holy mountain” (Isaiah 65:25). Jesus came so that we may have life in it’s fullness here as well as conquer death our last enemy.
- New Outlook: We will be like Angles and Spirit. When transition takes place in a normal life new norm is usually created. The new norm calls for the new rules of operation. The rules of heaven are different from our earthly rules. In this case, where the transition that we go through is by death, it will mean that in the next life there will be new set of rules. Some may be near the same but not the same. I like the part where we will recognize each other. I would be looking out for my dad and brothers and other friends who have gone before me hoping that they made it there and at least say “jambo or muuga”. Jesus resurrection is an example of how our bodies will be changed. Then we can get in the house even when the doors are shut as Jesus did. We will not be limited by time and space. We can move fast and everywhere. We may not know all the details of how heaven will be like. We know some of the pictures that have been painted in the bible that I would like to lift a few: In heaven streets are paved in gold. In heaven there are mansions or rooms for each of us who make it there. In heaven there is no darkness. In heaven there will be no ocean to swallow us but there will be rivers and wonderful vegetation. In heaven we will know one another. In heaven there will be no pain, suffering or fear. In heaven people and all animals will live in harmony. Isaiah says a child will play with a spider and the lion will eat grass (Isaiah 65:25). There are many more that I may have missed but one thing that we know about ourselves is we will be like angels. I want to believe the movement from one place to the other will be easier.