Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sermon Cliff Note: Luke 20.27-38 & The Case for Resurrection

Sermon Cliff Note

The short version of the story of Jesus’ encounter with the Sadducees goes like this: Sadducees: is there a resurrection?  Jesus: Yes.


A Modern-Day Parable: Happy Aunt Gladys

Aunt Gladys is a family member we all love to talk about – the one with all those husbands!  She’s always so sure this one will be even better than the last.

But Aunt Gladys is not getting any younger, and this husband hopping has to stop.  Otherwise, we’ll be the ones taking care of her in her old age!

So we invite Aunt Gladys to a party and secretly invite all her exes, with the idea that we’ll make her choose one of them.

The day of the party, we’re all a bit nervous.  Have we overstepped?  Will the husbands show up?  Our plan depends on them showing up!

Not to worry – every thing goes smoothly – and as Gladys enters the hall, there are all the husbands, dressed in their very best.

They line up according to when they were married to Gladys as if by some silent agreement amongst themselves; and Gladys, with delight on her face, walks the line, greeting each of them with a kiss and a warm embrace.

        The party is a huge success.  Gladys is positively radiant.  She laughs at all their jokes, pats their hands, and generally has a good time.

At the end of the evening, we gather round, awaiting Aunt Gladys’ decision.  We each have our own odds-on favorite and a few of us have even started a betting pool.

Impatient to be done with it, Gladys’ twin sister Alice breaks the bubble: So, Gladys, who’s it to be?  Choose!

Why, darlings, of course, I chose them all. . . but today, I choose . . . well, today, I choose not to choose.


Commentary: Is There a Heaven?

Just by asking their question, we learn much about the Sadducees.  

We learn that they’re guys – only a guy would think this is a problem.  A woman thinking that she might have seven husbands to choose from would not think it a problem.

We learn that the Sadducees just cannot believe in a heaven that is not a mirror of earth.

But the fundamental question remains: is there a heaven?  Assumed in the question is this: if there is such a thing as heaven, then we should be able to know what it ‘is’, or at least, what it is ‘like’.

Jesus gives the Sadducees an answer they can hold on to for the ‘is-ness’ of heaven while refusing to give them an answer for the details.

Sadducees only relied on the first five books of the Bible – the Torah. For them, if it wasn’t in the first five books, it didn’t count.

Knowing this, Jesus reminds them of God’s statement to Moses at the burning bush found at Exodus 3.6: I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. . . God does not say I was . . . but rather, I am . . .

Jesus’ point is simple (perhaps the only time Jesus offers a grammar lesson):  when God spoke to Moses, God was speaking not only of God’s self, but also of the ancestors, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the present tense.  They all live.

There, says Jesus, is your ‘evidence’ for the resurrection, for the God-promise of life beyond death.

The Sadducees don’t get the answer they seek, but they get the answer they need.

That’s how it is with Jesus.

When it comes to heaven and what it’s ‘like’, the best answer I know is that it is a mystery.  We know that it is, but we do not know what it is like, for it is a far country.

And that’s okay.


A Dotty Ditty

the wife is the wife
the husbands are husbands
and no one in heaven cares
not even a little
for there is not here
and here not there
and there is no tween
nor twain

No comments:

Post a Comment