20 November 2010

Luke 20:27-40

"Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living." (v.38)


It is difficult to understand fully what this disagreement is about. Our modern understanding, commonly expressed by Christians and non-Christians alike, is that we have an immortal soul that inhabits a physical body. When we die, our soul leaves the body. Although this is commonly believed, it wouldn't have been how the Sadducees, or indeed Jesus would have understood it. The body was far more important than simply the container of a body to them! We are mortal creatures without an immortal bone in our body! Resurrection is thus a real issue because you don't have an immortal bit that keeps going. It is only with a body that you can be you and when you die that is lost. Resurrection is therefore wholly to do with God's freely given love and grace and not something that is a natural part of what it is to be human. "The Lord gives and the Lord takes, blessed be the name of the Lord!" (Job 1:21) This is thus an argument about how much God loves us.

The Sadducees make fun of the idea that God gives us a new body - a new expression of who we are. Jesus, however, believes that God's love for us is without measure, and although what that future will look like is outside our experience, we need not be afraid. What we have already experienced of God's faithfulness and care of us, is enough for us to be confident. We aren't invited to trust in theories about the afterlife, silly or not, we are simply invited to trust in God's love for us - the God who is God not of the dead, but of the living, and in Jesus who came that we might have life in all its fullness (John 10:10).

To Ponder

It is difficult to face up to our own mortality - but as we do, what more do we need than this, 'God has created all things, and loves all that he has made'?

How can we learn from the Jewish teaching that takes the body so seriously?

How does God's love for us help us face things that make us afraid?

And Pray
Gracious Saviour, today I offer you myself, all of me, all that I am or every will be, and I trust in your eternal love. Amen.

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Mark Wakelin

Born in Africa to missionary parents, Mark Wakelin is a Methodist minister, He was the President of the Methodist Conference 2012/2013, and before that worked for the Connexional Team, as the secretary for internal relationships. He is now the minster at Epsom Methodist Chuch.