Whose Son is the Christ and Promised Messiah?
[Luke chapter 20, verses 27-47]
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Last week when we left off at verse 26, the Pharisees, together with some agents provocateur, had tried to entrap Jesus with some questions about the tax laws. “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what his God’s”, was Jesus’ immortal response, and from that time going forward the Pharisees and “teachers” of the Law dared not challenge our Lord and Savior any further. Let me say this once again as I did in last week’s study – the responses of Christ to the hired agents’ questions back in verses 23-25 was indicative of a truly superior intellect. By humanity’s standards, Jesus was a genius because he was the Son of God. He was, then, omniscience in the flesh. This week as we move on to part 3 of Luke chapter 20, we find another sect of the Jews called the Sadducees asking Jesus a ‘trick question’ in an effort to entrap him in an argument. The Pharisees, as we will see in chapter 22, had decided they needed a new strategy. So let’s begin this week’s study at verse 27.
“Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. ‘Teacher’, they said, ‘Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. The second and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. Finally, the woman died too. Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?’ Jesus replied, ‘The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection of the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die, since they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. But in the account of the bush, 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.’ Some of the teachers of the law responded, ‘Well said, teacher!’ And no one dared ask him any more questions.” (Luke 20, verses 27-40)
So here we have another instance where the Pharisees had given up on trying to entrap our Lord and Savior. The last time around some hired men sent by the Pharisees tried unsuccessfully to catch the Lord in a contradiction or an inconsistency in his testimony and teachings. So now we have the Sadduccees, another sect in Judaism, trying to entrap the Son of God with another trick question like the others. “Jesus replied, ‘The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection of the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die, since they are like the angels….” To put this concisely in 21st century vernacular, there will be no gender in heaven, meaning, the human sex drive will vanish when our bodies die. The human soul or spirit is, therefore, asexual at heart.
“Those who are considered worthy“, on the other hand, refers to all faithful believers who served the Lord as best as they were able, according to their abilities, while their bodies were living. It does not necessarily mean those who give the most money, although our financial support is critical to the long-term success of any church. But no one can buy their way into heaven, even though the “prosperity gospel” says otherwise. Moreover, pastors, deacons, administrators and musicians will all be held to a higher standard, along with any others in positions of senior leadership, such as boards of directors. Those who occupy various positions of leadership in the churches they attend should watch themselves and how they live more closely, because they can be quite sure God is watching them! I try to live my own life this way as well, because God watches what I do and listens to what I say. So I always try to conduct myself as if Christ were right there in the room, or on the bus or train, with me, and I’m strongly emphasizing that all should be doing the same. Those who aren’t there yet, you know who you are and what you have to do.
“They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.” I am fairly sure that the apostle Paul, the final apostle, had this in mind when he wrote chapter 4 of 1st Thessalonians. I will quote only the most important part here for the sake of brevity: “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.” (1st Thess. 4: 13-18) So all those who pass the test of time regarding their faith, who hold themselves up to a higher standard and do so for all the right reasons, they are the ones who will spend eternity with Jesus in Paradise. Few if anyone else is going to make it in, and that’s the hard truth of the matter.
“He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.’ Some of the teachers of the law responded, ‘Well said, teacher!’ “ At this point in the dialogue, which had started back at the beginning of chapter 20, we find those who were critics of the Lord (if you can imagine such a thing, because I really can’t) giving praise to Christ Jesus for his incisive response. At this point there was nothing else they could do! Unfortunately, there are still people today who have done something in their past, or who have simply lived their lives only for themselves, and who have never quit and turned away from this sort of behavior. There are still more who simply don’t believe in God at all. This is tantamount to a ‘vote of no confidence’ in God and in the massive saving power of the blood of Jesus Christ! Let the atheists say whatever they want – they’ll never convince me there is no God! But they also refuse to even consider the possibility that there is one. How sad for them! They are permanently lost and they don’t even realize it. All we can do is pray for them, and praying for atheists is another thing we can all be doing for Jesus. And now let’s finish up this week’s lesson starting at verse 41.
“Jesus then said to them, ‘How is it that they say the Christ is the son of David? David himself declares in the Book of Psalms: ‘The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet. David calls him ‘Lord’. How then can he be his son?’ While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.’” (Luke 20, verses 41-47)
I absolutely love the way Christ turned the tables on the very people who had just asked him a trick question of their own! Jesus responded to their loaded question about the childless wife of 7 husbands with one they couldn’t answer concerning Psalm 110, verse 1. Notice, too, that Jesus didn’t even give them time to answer his question before turning to his disciples and saying the modern equivalent to, “Watch out for these guys. They’re all full of crap, and they cheat people for a living. My father is sending them all straight to hell, so stay away from them.” Also notice the text where it says, “While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Beware of the teachers of the law’…..” As I have pointed out in previous studies of the apostle Luke, Jesus had a flock of his own faithful followers besides the Twelve that numbered in the hundreds by the time the end of his ministry on earth was near. I would call it a 1st century version of an entourage. I don’t know about you, but I would give anything to have been a member of that group of followers just so I could have an opportunity to hear Jesus preach! What an honor that would have been!
“They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues.” You know who this reminds me of? Modern politicians, mega-church pastors and TV evangelists are the first 3 groups I can think of, how about you? Here again we have yet another example where Jesus makes his disdain for vain and materialistic people known with abundant clarity. He makes his contempt for hypocrites equally clear. The last thing that bears mentioning here is verse 47, where our Lord and Savior said, “They devour widows houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.” Remember the real estate housing crash of 2008-2010? Many of the people who presided over that financial bloodbath, where whole families were evicted after their houses were illegally foreclosed on and due process was denied them, can be found in church every Sunday. The majority of those homes, by the way, many of which were in poor neighborhoods, were then ruthlessly seized. The nicest ones are being rented out, while the majority of these repossessed houses sit vacant to this day. The moral of the story is if we live only for ourselves we will be condemned, but if we live for Christ first, others second and ourselves last we will live with the Lord forever. And that’s good for our present lives, as well as the eternal life that is coming when our bodies wear out and die. And that, my dear readers, is the best thing worth waiting for!