Because God Is, We Will Continue to Be

Nov 06, 2022

Sermon 11-6-22
All Saints’ Sunday
Text: Luke 20:27-38
Pastor Jean M. Hansen
     “For they no longer dared to ask him (Jesus) another question.” If we had read two more verses, we would have come across that sentence, which I think is a more fitting end to today’s Gospel reading. Perhaps it reflects how we feel right about now - that questioning Jesus, and what he says, can create confusion. What exactly is Jesus saying in this text?
     In order to figure that out we need, you guessed it, context. A part of that context is that, in chapter 19 of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus cleared out the Temple of those who were selling things there. Since that occurred, his opponents had been trying to trap him with questions as he taught in the Temple. That was the goal of the Sadducees in today’s text; this group of religious leaders did not believe in the resurrection or any type of life after death. So, they wanted to publicly humiliate Jesus with their over-the-top scenario of a woman who had seven husbands on earth, all brothers, and no children to link her to any one of them.
     While the practice described in their inquiry is a real thing – called Levirate marriage – the question was not an actual one; it was intended to make the belief in the resurrection look foolish. But Jesus does not “bite”, he does not get involved in a debate, but instead states his truth. God is not God of the dead, but of the living.
     Let’s go down to verse 37 and work our way up. Since the Sadducees used only the first five books of Hebrew scripture, Jesus is referring to that which they considered authoritative.  He says, “And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” How does that point to the resurrection, we wonder. It’s because in the book of Exodus, Moses spoke of the Lord as God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the present tense, as if they all are dwelling with God in eternity.  To God, all of them are alive, Jesus explains.
     Well, that’s interesting … I guess … but it is not what really captures our attention in this text, is it? It is fair to say, I think, that we all want to know more about eternity, heaven, the resurrection of the dead, and how it will be for us and our loved ones. The Bible does not provide many unambiguous details on this topic, which I think is purposeful because eternity is a concept that is far beyond what we can grasp or imagine. But, this passage from Luke does offer some information, although, we may not be so sure that we want to hear it.
     The Sadducees are essentially saying that the resurrection is impractical when one considered people who have been married more than once. They ask, “In the resurrection, whose wife will the woman be? For seven had married her.” In response, Jesus challenges their premise that marriage, as we know it, will continue in eternity. He is essentially asking why they would think that what is a part of life now will continue in the Kingdom of God.
     I’m reminded of a comment made by Professor Alyce McKenzie that when her aunt married her uncle, she wanted the pastor to change the part of the wedding vows that say, “until death do us part,” to “for all eternity.” But, she writes, “that is beyond our human pay grade to claim. We are in no position to assert that the relationships we experience now in this earthly life will remain unchanged in the life to come.” (1)
     The message to us in this text is that we also should not assume that life in eternity will be just like the life we know now, only more so. Who knows what our bodies and existence will be like in the life to come? All we truly know is that all will be made eternally new and that the children of God will never again die in the way that is experienced/known in this age.
     As commentator Chelsey Harmon writes, “After all, Jesus makes clear that this age is nothing like the one that is to come, that we will belong to it in ways that are fundamentally different than the way we move and have our being in this age. And, that those who belong to that age are the heirs of God, God’s children, children of change and transformation of being, children of resurrection.”
     Then she goes on to say, “This does not mean that we view heaven in light of life and experience here on earth, as though heaven is simply a continuation of our way of being now. No, it means that we view heaven in light of God, making the most important piece God’s very experiential, unending, tangible presence. For because God is, we continue to be.” (2)
     I love that sentence: “Because God is, we continue to be.” For those who we remember today, and all who have begun their eternal sojourn, we rejoice in that good news. And, for the rest of us, the promise of resurrection, combined with the gift of grace, puts us in a good place; since we do not have to worry about our eternal life, we can concentrate on living the life we have now to the glory of God. Rather than focusing on all our questions about what will be in eternity, we can rest in, as Jesus said, being children of God, children of the resurrection. 
     One of the prayers that is a part of the funeral service asks this, in part: “Give us faith to see that death is swallowed up in the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that we may live in confidence and hope until, by your call, we are gathered to our heavenly home in the company of all your saints.”
     My friends, we do not know what that “heavenly home” will be like, or how we will interact with one another. But, we can surmise that it will be far beyond anything that we would call good, or blessed, or perfect in this life. Today we rejoice that because God is, we will continue to be. AMEN
  1. “Alive in God: Reflections on Luke 20:27-38” by Alyce McKenzie, November 4, 2013
  2. “Commentary on Luke 20:27-38” by Chelsey Harmon, November 6, 2022,