The Gospel this week (Luke 20:27-38) is sectioned in the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible under the title, ‘The Question about the Resurrection’. Here, the Sadducees test Jesus to prove (hoping, though, to disprove) His wisdom, and knowledge of the Law. The Sadducees did not believe in the Resurrection and so, they sought to ensnare Jesus by asking Him the question: ‘In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be?’ (Luke 20:33). This is the mischievous question they posed: after all, the woman, in the scenario they painted for Jesus, had married one man who died. Upon his death, the man’s brother married her, but then he died. And so it went, until all seven brothers had married the woman and died, until eventually, the woman also died. The scenario ends with the question, ‘whose wife will the woman be in the Resurrection?’
I must say, the Sadducees were persistent: they never missed an opportunity to try to put Jesus on the spot. By the grace of God, one day, you and I too will answer our opponents as coolly as Jesus always did. In His usual cool way, then, Jesus answers, effectively silencing them…for the moment. In His response, He refers to ‘children of the Resurrection’, which is the focus of this week’s message.
I now pose this question to you: Are we children of the Resurrection? Shall I clarify my meaning? In the text, the term has a specific meaning, referring to those who have died and been resurrected. See 1 Corinthians 15:35-58 in which Paul clarifies to the Church in Corinth the question of the Resurrection. In verses 42 to 44, Paul writes: ‘So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.’ My mission here, though, isn’t to discuss that resurrection, but rather the resurrection we are called to in the here and now, in ‘this age’, to use Jesus’ term in the Gospel, to a new life, the life that leads to purpose. Remember, purpose is walking in step with the will of God.
The resurrection I refer to means that we are actively and intentionally putting to death our old ways – our boastfulness, our anger, our impatience, our intolerance, our stubbornness, our self-deprecating and negating thoughts, our negativity, our harshness, our judging glances, thoughts and words. Expressed another way, in this resurrection, we speak as ‘[…] one speaking the very words of God;’ (Ref: 1 Peter 4:11). What are these words? They are words that ‘provoke one another to love and good deeds’ (Hebrews 10:24). In this resurrection, we act, loving one another as Jesus Christ has loved us (John 15:12), laying down our lives for one another. In this resurrection, we serve ‘with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ.’ (Ref: 1 Peter 4:11). Considering this, and more as the Spirit reveals to you, are we ‘children of the resurrection’?
Friends, the season of Advent begins in a few weeks’ time. Advent, in my Church’s tradition is a season of anticipation and preparation. Advent anticipates what we celebrate upon the conclusion of the season – the birth of Jesus Christ. More currently, though, it reminds us of the need to prepare as we anticipate the Second Coming. Advent is four weeks spent in intentional preparation for the Second Coming of Christ when we will all be called to account for the work that we will have done in ‘this age’. Advent, in a manner of speaking, ought to align us with purpose.
Now, I’ve spoken about the things that we are seeking to put to death. I hope you appreciate that the list presented here is not exhaustive. But if we’re talking about ‘resurrection’, perhaps it would be useful for you to spend some time thinking of the things that should come to life in your resurrection. What might the new you look like? Perhaps, you would be more forgiving, more understanding, and compassionate. Perhaps, you would not judge as quickly as you do. Maybe, you would be more disciplined in your studying, in your eating, in your exercising. Who knows: the ‘resurrected’ you might speak gentle words. The new you might be more willing to serve others, laying down your life for others. The new you might even provoke yourself to love and good deeds, so that you might provoke others to love and good deeds.
Resurrection is no mean or easy feat. Resurrection, though, is the fruit of humility, perseverance, faith, yielding to the Potter’s heart, and living a life in praise and worship, as we’ve explored in earlier pieces. In short, resurrection is a process that can only be undertaken under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Resurrection is a commitment and a personal choice. We must choose to live our lives in step with the will of God. Resurrection happens, then, when we choose purpose.
Friends, as I close, I ask again, are we children of the resurrection? Are we deciding daily to live our lives in a manner that is pleasing to God? And, in that deciding, are we calling upon the power of the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide? For you see, it is when we call upon that Power, we then step into what’s next, and that is where I typically end my pieces: on a note of