Let us pray: Dear Savior, this is a glorious, special day on which earthbound saints remember and rejoice over those newly-commissioned saints in heaven. How happy we are for them! How we look forward to joining them in glory! Remind us today to keep our minds on heaven while our feet are still planted here on earth. For then all of those “big problems” we face will simply fade into oblivion. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHOM ALL SAINTS ADORE!
TEXT: Luke 20: 27-38
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
What cemetery will you be buried in? Where will your final resting place be? Maybe you already have a plot picked out—perhaps other family members are already there? Maybe you haven’t even given it a thought? But you should. Because all of us will be buried in a cemetery someday—unless the 2nd coming occurs first!
My mother-in-law, Lois, was laid to rest alongside her husband this past March. That cemetery is outside Cottonwood, Mn. It is on the windswept prairie, and to be honest, I’ve never much liked it. Her daughter, Patty Jo, is also interned there. Often burial plots are such “family affairs.” Our sister in Christ, Tirzah Krey, is now resting over in Wilmington alongside her Mother and Father, sister and brother-in-law. Many of you drive past that burial ground on your way to church each week. It’s a pretty, quiet spot. My own Mother and Father are also buried with relatives. In their case it’s my grandmother and grandfather. That little town cemetery in Redwood Falls, Mn could be called: homey. It’s on a rolling ridge above the river valley. Mother always took delight when visiting it as she knew all the folks surrounding her final resting place. She called it: “the old neighborhood.” So, what will your burial place be like?
Death is the great equalizer of life. You’ve all heard about the inescapability of: death and taxes! But unlike taxes, which a good CPA or tax lawyer can help alleviate, death can never be avoided, can it? That’s why Christianity is so comforting. For us, death doesn’t have to be final, dark, and dreary. That’s because our living Lord Christ, tasted death for us, beat it via His resurrection from the grave, and now resides in heavenly glory. Moreover, through simply, humble faith in Him—you can too! Today we remember all those saints who are now with Him in glory. We especially remember our sisters in Christ: Tirzah and Lois who left us this past year to join Him. What an amazingly happy time they are having today—their “neighborhoods” just increased exponentially!
It was Palm Sunday afternoon. After the outpouring of joy and support for Jesus that morning, now the tide begins to turn. Jesus is in the temple environs. Religious leaders who hate Him and are smarting over His morning show of support decide to take Him down and turn the people against Him. This group was the Sadducees, the bulk of the Jewish ruling council who had Caiaphas, the high priest, as their head. These men were the religious liberals of the day. They didn’t believe in angels, any kind of afterlife, heaven, or anything supernatural. They rejected any idea of a resurrection from the dead. But they also knew the people basically disagreed with them and so did Christ. So, they dream up a stratagem to trip Jesus up. They knew the OT. They knew Mosaic Law. They knew that in order to secure family property rights, if a man died after marriage and his wife hadn’t given birth to any children, a brother of the dead man was duty bound to marry the widow, have children with her, and thus secure those property rights. Thus, they pose this ludicrous scenario of seven brothers dying, each after marrying the widow of the first brother—with no children coming from any of those relationships. Remember: the Sadducees rejected the resurrection from the dead. Nonetheless, they ask: “Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?” Ah, they believe they have Him!
Now, listen carefully to Christ’s very precise reply: “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. (All true) But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like angels.” So, Jesus is condemning these arrogant unbelievers! They won’t be part of the resurrection since they reject it. It’s His way of saying: “What a stupid question!” Some have seized on this to say: “There is no marriage in heaven, husbands and wives won’t have that sort of relationship.” Well, I suppose that’s partly true. Angels aren’t married and Jesus says we’ll be like angels, doesn’t He? But, the point really is: In heaven we’ll be different and infinitely better in our relationships than we ever were on earth. The mechanics of it all are beyond earthly language to describe adequately. But rest assured, take the best of what you experience here, multiply it by a billion and you’ll start to comprehend the huge joys of being a saint in glory!
Tirzah and Lois are experiencing such bliss right now. And to further comfort us over our loss of them, Christ goes on to add this: “They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.” Yes, Jesus adopted them at their baptism—just like you and me. He blest them throughout their lives and caused them to grow in His grace—just like you and me. He solidified their hold on heaven by giving them Spirit-wrought faith in His death on the cross as payment for their sins and in His resurrection as proof of His victory over death—just like you and me. They are now God’s children in glory, whereas we are God’s children while still bound to this earth. They live because Christ lives—just like you and me.
And now comes the clincher: “But in the account of the bush (burning bush on Mt. Sinai), 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.’ He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” How that answer must have stung the Sadducees’ hearts! They prided themselves in their holy ancestry. They gloried in the patriarchs of their nation. And now Jesus says these heroes of faith not only believed in the resurrection, but now reside in heavenly splendor through it, because God Almighty is not a dead God but a Living Lord! The poignancy of the moment is amazing when you consider that in one short week after saying this, Jesus Christ would announce this truth to the world through His resurrection from the dead, as well!
“For to him, all are alive.” Not “will be alive” or “were alive” but “are alive.” This means that Lois, Tirzah, you and me are alive in Christ right now! We’re joined together by faith in Him and nothing can separate us—not even death. Death as the Great Equalizer?—Hah! Shortly before she passed, my mother-in-law heard the doctor say: “You have only a few hours left.” Do you know what her response was? One word: “Wonderful!” By the power of our glorious Lord Christ that can and hopefully will be our response to! Amen