November 10, 2013 AD
St. Luke 20:27-40
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! AMEN! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Luke’s gospel account the 20th chapter.
A. Holy Ground in God’s Presence
Beloved in the Lord,
With Moses and all God’s saints we have ascended the Mountain of the Lord. Here in our midst the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, unveils Himself in the preaching of His Word. He is the Vine and we are the branches. His Word sets our hearts afire and we are not consumed. His heart is set before us as His Name is voiced over us. He is our God as well, the God of creation, the God of Salvation. He has seen our distress. His ears have been attentive to our needs. With outstretched arms He has come down to deliver us out of the hands of our oppressors; sin, death, devil. Like a Father teaching His son to walk, we cling to His Pierced hand as He leads us through this wilderness and into a Land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of saints and angels, of apostles and martyrs, even the Holy Temple of God in a New Creation. Thus wherever this God of ours speaks His Word over us, in us, for us, there we find holy ground, ground sanctified by the presence of its creator and His Word. For all things are sanctified by the Word of God and by prayer.
Therefore beloved, bend your heart low and remove the remnants of those shackles which once bound you to death. Your God comes to you this morning in grace and mercy, in love and compassion. He comes to save, comes to forgive, comes with Joy for your heart. He comes to you that you might hear His Word and hearing . . . believe . . . and believing receive the Spirit of His Son which cries out “Abba Father.”
B. Unbelieving Sadducees
Little did these Sadducees know that the ground upon which they stood was holy ground. There before them was the Son of God, the Angel of the Lord in the Flesh, Abraham’s promised seed, Isaac’s Ram caught in the thicket, and the blessing of Israel. Yet they did not see with the eyes of faith nor were their ears able to hear. No, beloved, these Sadducees had come to antagonize the Master, to test Him, and they hoped . . .to discredit Him. Oh, they’re not concerned with how many angels could fit on the head of a needle! Sadducees didn’t believe in angels. Oh, they’re not worried about why God created hell! Sadducees didn’t believe in Hell. And they didn’t want to hear from the Psalm or the prophets, Sadducees only believed in the first five books of Moses, only in the books they judged to be authoritative. Much like liberal Christianity these days, who also decide for themselves which portion of the Bible is actually divinely inspired, the Sadducees prided themselves with their religiosity, their progressive piety, their contemporary theology and their so called intellectual prowess. They were the smart ones, the intellectual elite! But, sadly, they did not know the scriptures nor the power of God. They were greatly mistaken.
Thus they pose a question to Jesus. It was a ridiculous hypothetical situation, one which they thought they knew the answer, one in which they thought they could trap Jesus. That’s why people like hypothetical situational theology. It’s not real. And if it’s not real we then have the power to manipulate the circumstances any which way we like in order to get the answer we want. If its not real then we can deal with sin any way we want.
After seven husbands, they hypothesize, and no children in her earthly life whose bride will she be at the resurrection? The Sadducees quote Mosaic Law regarding marriage in an attempt to deny the resurrection. You see, beloved, liberal theology . . .be it coined progressive, contemporary or emerging . . . at some point or another always denies the authority of Scripture, which allows them to determine their own morality and then eventually results in a denial of the resurrection of the body.
Society has already done away the resurrection of the body fixing their hearts upon some sort of mystical, spiritual existence that continues for a long, long time. I’m convinced that’s one of the main reasons cremation is becoming more and more popular. Who cares about the body after we’re done with it? And that’s why the world grieves without hope. They have no concept of their own humanity nor do they understand the God who created them.
And too many churches these days, those which have forsaken the Word of God, also have latched on this ethereal continuation, as though the dead become ghosts or angels. You see, beloved, a people void of God’s Word will allow their hearts to seize upon hypothetical, situational, realities, ones which they’ve conjured up in the imagination of their corrupt and depraved minds. It’s no wonder the world has no hope. It’s no wonder hearts refuse to be comforted. It’s no wonder modern day funerals can only talk about the past. They have nothing to look forward to. Dead is dead. There is no holy ground.
C. Death’s Undoing
Beloved, if dead is dead and there is no holy ground on this side of eternity, then Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with whom God covenanted, lie dead forever. And that would mean that God is a God of “dead men” – an impossible thought! If God is a God of dead men then death has not be conquered, then death is stronger than God, that there is no redemption and we all are still in sin. But that is only a hypothetical situation based upon the arguments of those who are greatly mistaken, who know not the Word of God nor His Great Power. That is not reality!
No, beloved, hear the Word of Jesus and set your heart upon it for eternity. “Even Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised when He called the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob! For He is not a God of the dead but of the Living!” You see dear children, God’s very identity with Humanity proves the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. The fact that God became Man, took upon Himself our infirmities, our frailties, our sin and was crucified, dead and buried, only to be raised on the Third day proves the resurrection of our mortal bodies. In the death of Jesus, on that most precious tree, death has suffered its deathblow. Redemption has not failed. It has turned the death of god’s saints into a mere sleep. The proof is the resurrection by which God wakes these dead bodies from their slumber. The dust of God’s saints may, indeed, look to our eyes as other dust, as dead dust; but in reality, the reality formed and shaped by the Word of God, that dust, created by God the Father, redeemed by the blood of the eternal Son, and Sanctified by His Spirit in the waters of holy Baptism is most certainly living dust! We shall see it live in glory forever and ever. “For they all live to Him” say the scriptures, whatever men may think or say. We have God’s Word! We have His Name. That is our eternal reality!
B’. The Call for faith
Thus beloved, the Lord preaches reality to your heart this morning. He directs you, even as He did the Sadducees, to the Word! Not just parts of the Word but all of the Word. For all scripture is divinely inspired and profitable for the man of God. The Word calls for faith, creates faith, sustains faith, guides faith. The Word makes one worthy to attain that age and the resurrection of the Dead. For the Word speaks Christ, His life, death, and resurrection, into your hearts. The Word names you with God’s Name, cleanses you with God’s blood, pledges the resurrection within you under bread and wine. The Word breaks your allegiance to false realities as God delivers you from the wisdom of this world. The Word rends asunder that which would clothe you in the shroud of death as His absolution binds God’s mercy to your heart. God’s Word quickens and Christens. It gives life as it gives the Spirit. It sanctifies and resurrects. All that this world longs for; forgiveness, life, eternity, communion, hope, love, joy, peace, blessedness – God Himself, yet refuses to receive from God even as they reject His Word, is delivered through God’s Word! To those who believe on His name He gives the right to become sons of God, those born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of man, but of God! And this by grace, through faith, not of works lest any man, though he be progressive, liberal, contemporary, traditional, conservative, or fundamentalist, lest any man boast. For all who boast ought boast in the Lord!
And this Word which we believe gives Hope. It is the certainty of things unseen, the pledge of that which God will most certainly deliver on the last day. Therefore we who are of faith are not like the world. We cleave to God’s Word. Our lives are different. Our funerals are different. Our burials, our grieving, our mourning, our hoping, our living and our dying all is different from the World. For we have a Redeemer from sin, death, and devil. His Name is Jesus Christ and where His word is planted, there is holy ground, even the word planted within our heart!
A’. Holy Ground
Beloved, our God has answered these Sadducees well. He has taken away the questions of a doubting, unbelieving heart and fixed them on the Word, fixed them on Himself. For He is the Resurrection and the Life, the Word made flesh, the Word for us and for our salvation. Where He goes, where He speaks, there is holy ground and we are compelled by faith to bow both heart and mind, body and soul before the might of His deliverance. Thus is salvation ours today, tomorrow and forever. We have heard this Holy Word and by faith we too are hallowed for service in His kingdom. Through us, through our vocations we are the Lord’s hands, His feet, His voice, His heart. We bear the love of God before our neighbors even as we carry His cross both upon the heart and upon the forehead. We are marked as His dear children, marked with His death and His resurrection. Thus where our feet trod, where we bring God’s Word and God’s love, there is Holy ground and the Lord sanctifies His whole creation, even makes it new.
Thus when our days are ended and we too shall be lain to rest with our forefathers, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the dust of our flesh shall hallow the earth once more. For on the last day, out of that earth shall arise a mighty army of flesh and blood, redeemed by the blood of the lamb, redeemed to live eternally in God’s presence. Our entire body will be as pure and bright as the sun and as light as the air, and, finally so healthy, so blissful, and filled with such heavenly eternal joy that it will never hunger, thirst, grow weary, or decline. We shall finally be as He is. For He is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. He is the God of the Living and not of the dead. He is our God. We bear His Name. We have His Word. AMEN!