Luke 20:27-40: Jesus on the Resurrection
The cynic’s question
The Savior’s answer
Is there life after death? Many Post-Christian Western secular people say, No! But the majority of the world’s population, throughout history have said, Yes! The Vikings had a belief in Valhalla. The Egyptians practiced mummification because of their belief in the afterlife. You have probably all heard people tell stories about NDEs, near death experiences. Despite the best attempts by the new atheists there is a recalcitrant view of life going on after death. In the new religionless West we still hear this basic hope for life to mean something to and for our existence to go on after death. Naturalist attempts at meaning and significance talk about living on in the hearts of our loved ones, but I always think, ‘What if they die, or just forget?’ Others will talk about the atoms that make up our bodies once having been star dust and when this earth disintegrates returning to star dust once again. That is not what we mean when we say at a funeral ‘from dust to dust.’ These naturalistic explanations do not satisfy, the human heart longs for something more. I love the way Woody Allen puts it, ‘“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying. I don’t want to live on in the hearts of my countrymen; I want to live on in my apartment.”1 As Christians we know why people have this desire, Ecc. 3:11 tells us that God has put this hunger for eternity in our hearts.
Now many stand confused today, they may agree that life must go on, but they don’t know who to believe. Do they go with Islam, Hinduism, New Age, or some other belief about the afterlife? Imagine if God came down and told us about the future and how things will one day be. This is what we have in the portion before us. Jesus gives us His teaching on the resurrection and the new creation.
You will remember that the leaders have crossed the line and made the decision that Jesus has to go. Their present tactic is to get Jesus to say something that they can use against Him, either to discredit Him before the crowds or to get Him into trouble with Rome. They can’t make a move publicly because of His popularity so they have to try and get Him to make Himself fall out of favor. What you need to see in this chapter is the parading and humbling of all the facets of Israel’s leadership. The Pharisees, the Herodians, and now the Sadducees all bring their best game and defeated one by one. As we look at v27-40 we will look at it under two headings, the cynic’s question; the Savior’s answer.