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Gospel of Mark #47 ~ (12:18-27)

Started by Al Moak, August 15, 2004, 09:25:57 am

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Al Moak

August 15, 2004, 09:25:57 am Last Edit: November 05, 2008, 04:33:35 pm by Al Moak
Mark 12:18-27
O Death, Where Is Thy Sting?

If dying is not the end, then you and I have a reason for living! And if our present lives will actually have impact on our eternal lives, then we should certainly be encouraged to live in God's way. I believe the passage before us teaches us that both of these things are true - that dying isn't the end, and that our present lives impact our eternal lives.  So then, as we read about our future, let's try to see how it should affect our present.

I admire people who get right to the heart of an issue. The One I admire the most in that regard is our Lord Jesus Christ! The Sadducees brought what they thought was a tricky little story, one that would ensnare Jesus with His notions about resurrection. Jesus, though, corrected the error of their story and then cut right to the heart of the real issue. He dealt very, very directly with their real problem, the problem of unbelief.

The law the Sadducees referred to was from Deuteronomy 25:5 and following. The law stipulated that if there were two brothers and one died, leaving his wife no children, then the remaining brother should marry the woman and raise up children for his brother.

Jesus had to begin by telling them that they didn't understand the Scripture. He was right. And they had good reason for not understanding: they were committing a very common error of Scripture interpretation - taking a passage out of context in order to prove an assumption. In the particular case before us, they took the passage out of Deuteronomy and proceeded to use it to "prove" that, if there were a resurrection (and of course they didn't believe there was), why then there'd be a problem. Their reasoning assumes that the same earthly conditions that prevail here and now must also prevail after the resurrection - that there would be marriage and giving in marriage. In other words, they had no idea what the Scripture really taught about eternity.

But as the Master Interpreter points out, the Scripture, in fact, teaches that life doesn't simply go on as before. It teaches that marriage is for this life, not the next. It teaches that in the next life, marriage doesn't apply, because we then become pure servants of God like the angels. The Sadducees, wanting to use the Scripture for their own purposes, ignored that possibility.

The next thing Jesus had to tell them was that they didn't even begin to understand the power of God. The Sadducees thought that if God raised bodies from death they would have to be exactly as they were in this life. But that's not the way God does things. He raises up His people with new bodies, bodies no longer subject to the limitations brought on by sin. The whole arrangement, for instance, of marriage, reproduction, childbirth, and related matters are for this life alone - they aren't going to be the same after the resurrection. Remember what God had to say to Eve after the first sin: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." Those weren't the conditions before the fall, and they won't be the conditions after the resurrection.

Because of the power of God, there will be no pain and death in the hereafter, and true, self-giving love will be the rule. We don't know about any need for multiplication of the race. The safeguards of marriage won't be needed. The Sadducees' narrow thinking needed to expand beyond their own biases, their own little spheres of thought. They needed to realize that the power of God can and will change things radically. The resurrection with which they disagreed wasn't the resurrection that God provides.

Then, when Jesus finished His short, simple explanation of resurrection life, He cut right to the heart of the problem - the Sadducees' unbelief. Just as for unbelief in our own day, since they had never seen dead men rise, they therefore assumed that the very notion of resurrection is ridiculous, that it could never happen. But as Jesus points out, that would make God the God of dead men. He says He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. If there is no resurrection, then God has lost them - He is no longer their God. That would mean that death is the end, that God, though He is the Creator, has no power beyond it!

So ancient unbelief and modern unbelief are just the same. The question we absolutely must ask is, shall we believe other people's unbelief, or shall we believe Jesus Christ and His apostles? Before we choose which it will be for us, we need to be aware that the best attested, most thoroughly substantiated fact in all the world's history is the resurrection of Jesus Christ! Men of all ages have been willing to die rather than deny it. They were willing to die because they knew they themselves would rise again. They were willing, in other words, because resurrection is the truth!

It's the truth for you as well. You will die. But you will live again. And it will be a new and wonderful kind of life if Christ is really your Savior! That wonderful fact should be a pretty good motivator for serving our master in this life!

In fact, that should be the main result of believing in the resurrection of Christ and in our own resurrection as well. If we're convinced of it's reality, if we're convinced that Jesus Christ Himself is our risen and living Lord, then it should make us willing to live for Him here, willing to give up some things, and even to suffer if necessary. Sometimes life here seems long, but compared to eternity with Christ it's really quite short.

Not only so, but all that we do in this life is under the living lordship of Jesus Christ. Because He's Lord, and because He places such great importance on what we do here and now, you can therefore be absolutely sure that what you do now is not wasted - it has eternal consequences. This earth, this entire universe, will be entirely renewed, but little bits of that renewal are happening even now - in what we do for Him. Therefore your work for Him here has eternal value. Both you and it will be glorified.

Paul had a lot to say about it. For instance, he said, "Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed - in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory.' O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?" The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord!" (1 Cor. 15:51-58)

With that in mind, and with a real resurrection of both body and soul definitely coming, we can work with real confidence and purpose in this world. Jesus Christ is alive and working right beside you - or rather - in you. Do you love Him? Do you believe what He says about resurrection? Then let's love and serve Him with all our might. Let's not be moved by the unbelief of the Sadducaical world around us.

Chris & Margit Saunders

Al, I will say it again, your expository teaching warms my heart!
But dont let it go to your head! lol. ;)