Lesson Text: Luke 20:27-40
Supplemental Text: 1 Corinthians 15:20, 42-44, 51-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 2:7, 10-11; 7:9-17; 22:14
Aim: Expect that God has in store for you something greater than you can imagine.
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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the Study by Mark Scott, Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions by Michael C. Mack): LOOKOUT_Dec26_2021.
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By Mark Scott
Hopes are dashed when the new year begins the same way the old year ended. We long for a new year that breathes expectation and hope into our life. Jesus is a polar opposite of an Eeyore and a Debbie Downer. We find unexpected hope in him even in the midst of the questions over his authority.
We move from the joy of the shepherds spreading the good tidings of Christmas (last week’s lesson) to the Sadducees asking Jesus about the future (this week’s lesson). Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem like he owned the place. It was quite a parade. Then he cursed a fig tree and cleansed the temple. These three events made the religion police ask about his authority. Jesus said he would not answer their question, but then he did, through parables (Matthew 21:28–22:14). After sharing the parables, Jesus answered several questions—a political one about paying taxes, a doctrinal one dealing with the future, and an interpretative one dealing with the greatest commandment. This lesson deals with the doctrinal question.
This second question on the “Day of Questions” (Tuesday of Jesus’ final week) came from the Sadducees. They were the priestly aristocracy. They were the temple power brokers. The high priest was chosen from among their group. Politically they were liberal, but theologically they were conservative. In their view, if Moses did not write it, then it was not Bible. Annas, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander were all Sadducees (Acts 4:6).
The Sadducees’ presuppositions caused them to ask this hypothetical question. They did not believe in the reality of resurrection and future life. Neither did they believe in angels or spirits (Acts 23:8). Keep in mind, they were more interested in trapping Jesus than in finding truth. Thus, the hypothetical question.
Their question went back to Deuteronomy 25:5 to what was called Levirate marriage. God placed a provision in the Law to protect the heritage of families and property. When a man died and left no heirs, the brother-in-law had responsibilities to father children through the dead man’s wife. The law seems strange to us. But the Messiah would have to come to earth to a specific location. The land of Israel was that spot (where East meets West—the literal center of the earth). This law perpetuated that family and land.
So the Sadducees posed this hypothetical question about seven brothers and a woman. They each married her one after the other. In the resurrected life, which they did not accept, whose wife would she be? It’s likely they were proud of themselves and their question.
Luke recorded Jesus’ answer in a rather kind and gentle manner. Matthew recorded Jesus attacking the Sadduccees for their lack of knowledge of the Scriptures and their lack of faith in the power of God (22:29). Mark’s account added, “You are badly mistaken!” (12:27).
The only one who can tell us about the world beyond us is one who came from there. Jesus began speaking about what life in that world is like. The institution of marriage will not be necessary in the resurrected world because everyone will love everyone equally. (Sidebar: Jesus did not say we would not know our mates as our mates.) Life in the resurrected world will be so much greater than even the closest of all earthly relationships (i.e., marriage). The resurrected world is a world of perfect, unselfish love.
Jesus also taught that in the resurrected world there would be no need to worry about the dead man or his brothers dying. In fact, people will be like the angels. There is no promise of wings, but it probably suggests that, like the angels, we will constantly be in the presence of God. Our best label is children of the resurrection. That is the best identity.
Jesus then assured that God is a living God and his people will be resurrected by taking the Sadducees on their own turf. He referenced the call of Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3–4). God identified himself to Moses as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus spoke about these patriarchs as if they were currently alive. Throw out the hypothetical question as all are alive to God.
The teachers of the law, who were Pharisees, commended Jesus’ answer. They did not want the Sadducees to use this fine point of theology against them (cf. Acts 23:9-10). While there would be one more question—the one about the greatest commandment—Luke’s account reads, “And no one dared to ask him any more questions” (20:40). In the resurrected world, all of our questions melt into unexpected hope.