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“the saints realize god’s intention”
It was never meant to be this way. When God created man, when he breathed the breath of life into Adam, it was not his intention that the breath of life would ever depart from the body, leaving a lifeless clay behind. When our creator God so carefully formed mankind out of the dust of the earth, his intention was not that dust would ever return to dust...no, his intention was, from the beginning, everlasting life – for the crown of his creation, to whom he had given authority over all the rest of creation – to live, and live and live and never, ever die. It wasn’t meant to be this way. When God saw that “it (was) not good for man to be alone,” and that he needed “a helper suitable to him,” he gave to Adam a wife, Eve, named so because through the woman, life would be perpetuated. (That’s what Eve means, “Life.”) It was not his intention in that perfect, flawless, sinless existence, that any womb would be barren, that any child would not make it through the process of birth, or that husband and wife would view their offspring as a burden and exterminate it before it can take one breath. It was never meant to be like this, but here we are, not in a world where life prevails, but instead where death reigns, where we cannot go one day without at least one obituary appearing in our local papers, and how many more that we will never, ever be aware of, and, oh by the way, one day our name is going to appear. Here we are – amidst the unintended circumstance that some husbands and wives who want to have children and keep their family growing and family name alive cannot, and some have “unwanted” children, and are actually given rights under the state to selfishly and heartlessly choose themselves over the lives of the ones they helped to bring into the world. It was just NEVER meant to be this way. Life, and its process of continuation was never meant to be interrupted and distorted like this. But such is the consequence of creation being destroyed by the fall. This is reality NOW – because the perfect creation that God saw and declared “good” was defaced, disfigured, and poisoned. Now, every passing day, life, which was intended to continue without interruption is cut short of God’s original intention. I take us back to Eden and the fall, the greatest tragedy in human history, because of the proposed situation by the Sadducees in our lesson for today, in which they attempt to trap Jesus using a somewhat ridiculous and overblown, and yet not entirely impossible example which illustrates the frailty of human life. But before we dive into this question, we need to know who the Sadducees are. The Sadducees were an offshoot of Judaism, but not the same as the Pharisees. In fact, the Sadducees and Pharisees hated each other and only came together, really, in their hatred of Jesus and their desire to have him dead. They were a very politically driven group. The Sadducees did not believe that the entire Old Testament was God’s Word – only the first five books, the Pentateuch of Moses. They did not believe in resurrection from the dead, or that the soul lived on after the body died. And they did not believe in angels. All of those convictions, coupled with their increasing hatred and opposition of Jesus, drove them to concoct this hyperbolic situation in order to trap Jesus and prove that he was not really the Son of God: Luke 20:27-38
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. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”
Now, obviously, they didn’t really want to know the answer to that question, because the likelihood that they were going to encounter such a situation and offer counsel in it was nearly impossible, and, quite honestly, we know why they asked the question. They were trying to trap Jesus in his words. But if you look at Jesus’ response to the Sadducees, he doesn’t just offer a refutation of their arguments on the basis of Biblical truth. He also offers to each and every one of us today comforting truth as we continue to exist in an environment where death prevails and where God’s intention for life is perpetually interrupted and cut short. Here’s his response:
replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 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.”
God did not intend that his creation would be defaced and destroyed by sin. And what his intention for marriage would have been if our first parents had not lent their ears and hearts to the crafty serpent, realistically we will not know all the details. What we do know is that, as residents of a world that has been poisoned by sin, we all are subject to the limitations of the sinful human race. The breath of life one day will depart from our bodies, leaving behind a breathless, lifeless. Our day will come, when, as Ecclesiastes 12:7 states: “7...the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” The gift of marriage, which most certainly would have served a much longer benefit for mankind in a sinless existence, now is also cut short, has its limitations, and at times, does not even serve all the purposes for which God gave it. That’s what it’s like “in this age,” an age of limitations. Marriage ends without always serving its purpose. Life ends prematurely. Relationships end, all limited, all cut short because of sin. It was never meant to be that way when God saw all that he had made and declared that it was “very good!” It was never intended to be this way, but thankfully, for the Saints who triumph in faith, it won’t always be that way! Listen again to verses 35 and 36: “35 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, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.”
What would life had been like if Adam and Eve had not participated in that which was forbidden, if they had worshiped their God will all their heart, soul and strength and not turned away from him to trust the lies of the serpent? What would life be like if the tolling bell of death did not ring day after day, generation after generation? Fellow children of God, we’re going to find out, just as all the believers who have died in the faith are finding out right now. We’re going to know personally when the Lord Jesus returns and the dead will rise “to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.” We don’t know now...but we will because we, like all the saints who have gone before us, have been “considered worthy.” We are worthy, not of our own merits, but our worthiness is always counted because of the merits of Christ Jesus, to whom we are intimately connected through the waters of baptism, through the Word and through the supper. We are counted worthy to participate in this never-ending existence, because of
“the love of the Father that has been lavished on us that we should be called children of God, and that is what we are!” Worthy, because of the faith the Holy Spirit has given us in the Lamb who was slain who,
by his perfect sacrifice and glorious resurrection from the dead has proven himself worthy “to receive
power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.”
Today I want you to rejoice with me in two very wonderful truths. First of all, the dead in Christ are not dead but living – right now. Like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the dead in Christ are before the throne this very moment offering their praise to him who sits on the Throne and to the Lamb, because he has taken away all that produces limitation of existence – he has taken away their sin and sin’s terrible consequences forever. He has truly “wiped away every tear from their eyes.” Realize right now, even as you are among the saints militant, that today, you join in the praise of the congregation in heaven, the Saints Triumphant, to whom you are intimately connected and with whom you have a relationship that will truly never end, that will never be cut short prematurely. Realize what God’s intention was at creation and how that never-ceasing life and fellowship with the Almighty has been restored to all who have received the gift of heaven by grace through faith in Christ our Savior, who died that you might live – who rose again to guarantee that we will rise too on that last day. And secondly, know that that’s what lies ahead for you. All we know is a life of limitations. We live for a while and then we die. Friends, our God is“...not the God of the dead, but of the living.” What we see is that people live for a while on earth and then they die. But for those whose hearts and souls belong to Christ in faith, that paradigm of human existence is utterly shattered. What God intended at creation – for man to live and to live and to live and to keep on living in perfect fellowship with him, that is exactly what the saints will realize and experience when they are graciously translated from this vale of tears to the New Eden. To live and live and live, that is exactly what God will bring about when his trumpet sounds, and the dead in Christ are raised never to die again, to live in perfect harmony with their Creator and each other forever and ever. It was never meant to be this way – what Jesus distinguishes as “this age.” But what our Creator God had intended before the fall into sin, everlasting fellowship with his children, he restores to us through his Son and gives it to us as a gift of grace. Stay confident in that promise of Christ, fellow militant saints. Be joyful for those who have passed on to that perfect fellowship, the triumphant saints and look with eyes of faith to the day when you will experience first-hand God’s intention, confessing every step of the way with Job the sufferer: “25 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will
stand upon the earth. 26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; 27 I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Amen.
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