“But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB. Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to Him.” (Luke 20:37-38 NASB)
I thought I knew, think I know, but now I’m not so sure. This is one of those passages where I’m sort of left wondering what it really meant. Jesus is questioned about the final resurrection of the dead, right? Yet I see in His answer more something of “life after death” than a living body again. In other words, I was looking for something that would indicate that people would have and relate to each other through some sort of body. That’s not really what Jesus describes.
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are who Moses ties to God, He is their God. I think what Moses assumed was that this God was the one who they worshiped…in the past, back when they lived. This is the same God who they had related to and received promises from. But what Jesus is pointing out is that any sort of statement like this also implies an existing relationship. In Hebrew of Exodus 3:6, the verb is left out, so it’s not “past” or completed action necessarily. And in the Septuagint, the verb is present active, meaning it’s a current state of affairs. God is the God of these three.
So what am I getting at? That Jesus’ statement about life-after-death to the Sadducees is that there is a relationship with God after one’s relationships here are cut off or lost. Death here does not mean death to God. That’s kind of huge if you let it be. We sort of assume it (unless you hold to a “soul-sleep” theological view). But Jesus points out that it simply is the state of affairs once we die. Luke adds to Matthew’s and Mark’s account the statement that all live to Him. Even so, what does this have to do with “the resurrection”?
Jesus states that the answer to the question, “are the dead raised” is this statement from Exodus 3:6 where God identifies Himself as the God of these Patriarchs. God being the God of the living not the dead does not seem to me to be an obvious proof of a final resurrection. Instead what Jesus has done is effectively countered the view that the closest anyone comes to life after death is Levirate Marriage. But having countered that view, He also implies that the relationships lost here because someone dies will be regained again in heaven (or existence after this life) assuming both are worthy of resurrection.
So now the question is whether resurrection is what Jesus says happens after death when the relationship with God continues? Is this what happens when an earthly relationship is regained after both die? Or is this description of resurrection merely describing a precursor of the final resurrection to come by stating the waiting condition between death and that final event? If you have an answer to that one, you have to share it, because I have no idea. Honestly, this baffles me. All I can solidly deduce from this passage is that Jesus claims there is life after death. How life after death is proof of a resurrection is something I’m not solid on. But I’m sure there are plenty of opinions out there.
By the way, life with God after death is only for the worthy? And that existence (see verses 34 through 36) seems to be what Jesus is referring to as a state of “resurrection”. In other words, life after death is resurrection. Some final event doesn’t seem to be in Jesus’ view here. Which is odd because I was assuming that some final event was what the Sadducees were arguing against. I thought the Pharisees argued for some final event. But it could be that they were actually arguing for some sort of cognitive existence after death, and calling that resurrection. We all confused together yet?
Any who, the point for me is that my relationship with God isn’t endangered by anything people can do to me. I have nothing to fear because what is truly important, my relationship with my Master, is not in any sort of danger what so ever. I’m truly saved in the most visceral and important sense of that word. I can’t be separated from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:31-39). This is true as long as I am worthy of the resurrection from the dead. Fortunately Jesus defines my worth based on His relationship with the Father, not mine. What a relief.
What’s your view through your knothole this morning?