November 12, 2019
Scripture Luke 20:27–40
“Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.” Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him another question.
Luke 20:38-40 NRSV
After entering Jerusalem during what we call Holy Week, a politically active group of Jewish leaders, the Sadducees, confronted Jesus and his followers. They tried to trap Jesus with a clever story that paints an amusing picture: a ticklish situation for a widow in the afterlife who had seven husbands, all of whom were brothers. Jesus knew that the Sadducees did not believe in a life after death, unlike the Pharisees, who did. Jesus previously had talked of heaven, so these opponents were trying hard to make him look foolish in a public area (Luke 10:18, 19:38).
But, Jesus was way ahead of them. He turned the topic into a discussion of God and God’s relation to humankind: God’s own creation. In the end, Jesus pointed out that God rules over the living and not the dead, even those founders of the Jewish faith who had passed on centuries before. This is in keeping with what we know and say today: We speak of the Living God. The Gospel of Luke makes shows that Jesus thought this was an important aspect of knowing God. And, he pointed this out long before you and I thought to take up the question.
Despite this encounter in scripture, there remains controversy over a life after death. Some find this disappointing, but it actually adds to the mystery of life, and of death, and that nearly indescribable aspect of our being, which we simply call: Faith. Jesus pointed out that God is very much alive and the sovereign Ruler of All. God conquered death in Jesus Christ. And, death is conquered for all time.
Because of this, every believer in Christ can draw on the encouragement of the apostle Paul:
“Where O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?”
1 Corinthians 15:55 NRSV