Luke 20:27-47               “Angels and Children”


            What comes next? It seems to me that that has been the essential question of humanity since day one. Would not life be a lot easier if we could see already what was going to happen tomorrow or the next day? There was a movie in 2002 called “Minority Report” in which three clairvoyants are used by police to stop murders before they happen. The future perpetrators would actually be arrested for a “pre-crime.” I still think of the irony of a future in which we could predict our future.

            In ancient Greece folks would seek out oracles to find out what the future would hold. The most famous of these was at Delphi where a priestess would go into a trance and begin to speak about things to happen. Later archeologists discovered that the temple at Delphi was built over a seeping natural gas deposit. So, the oracle was not actually telling anything of the future as much as getting high on the gas.

            Do any of you remember reading from the Old Testament the story of the “Witch of Endor.” This can be found in 1 Samuel 28, if you are interested. King Saul had in fact had a great campaign of getting rid of all soothsayers and wizards in Israel, but then discovers his own weakness in wanting to know what the outcome of a battle will be against the Philistines. Interestingly enough he goes in disguise to the Witch of Endor only to learn of his own impending death. And, actually, knowing his future did not stop it from happening! So, just knowing your future, may not mean you can change it. Soooo, do we still want to know what our future will be? Think about it! Isn’t living in the moment just about all we can handle within God’s good graces?


            Our scripture for this morning concerns us with the very basic predictive question of whether or not there is indeed an afterlife. What will be after we are no longer? The Sadducees come to Jesus and asked him a question about a particular issue of marriage in heaven. We best not forget that these Sadducees, leaders of the Jewish deliberative body known as the Sanhedrin, did not themselves believe in heaven. That is the first line of our text for today. “Those who do not believe in heaven came and asked Jesus a question about heaven.”

            If one does not believe in heaven, the only thing that is left is creating an earthly legacy. That is what these Sadducees are really interested in. That is why they ask about the woman who has not been able to produce children for seven different husbands. They believe that the best that they can do in this world is create progeny that will become a living legacy of their greatness. They believe that it is all about keeping the bloodline going, keeping the property ownership within the family, and making a name that will be remembered. Unfortunately, we do not remember any of these guys’ names today. So, their strange humanistic attempt at immortality has certainly failed. If it were not for their meeting with Jesus, the world would have long since forgotten about the Sadducees of ancient Israel. How about that for irony?! It is only because they stood in opposition to the Good News of the Resurrection that we remember these people today!  This is certainly a different legacy than they thought they would have.


            Let us consider Jesus’ response to all of this questioning. In fact, Jesus gives us a glimpse into heaven, so a crack in the door to the life everlasting in what he says. First, and please remember that in that day marriage was really primarily for the purpose of producing an heir, you will not have to worry about producing an heir while you are in heaven! You will not have to worry about keeping your bloodline because essentially you will not have to worry about blood at all. You are in heaven! What kind of heaven would that be if you still could stub your toe or get a paper cut? Guess what women? You will not have to go through childbirth in heaven! Jesus gives us this much of a glimpse into our future in heaven!

            Does that mean that I will not know or recognize my wife in heaven? Jesus does not say that. He says in fact that once you get to heaven, then you will not be given in marriage at that time. So, if I am in heaven, reborn to the afterlife, in my new heavenly body, and if I am thinking that now would be a good time to seek a new mate, “it ain’t gonna happen.” Of course I will know my wife and all the people whom I have loved and who have cared for me.

            Yes, in heaven we are all married still. In 2nd Corinthians 11:2 Saint Paul writes to the church: “I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband.” This idea of being married to God in heaven comes up over thirty times in the Bible. In the Book of Revelation when the end time comes, we are all gathered before God at a great feast that is in fact a wedding party!

            Yes, I will know my wife in heaven, but the real covenant is going to be with God. That is why we have marriage as a sacrament of the church, so that God will be present in the earthly marriage, and that we all can be present in the heavenly marriage to come.


            I firmly believe that the love we experience in this world we take with us to the next. In fact, that is all we get to take with us. But, that is all I want to take with me!  So, that is the Good News! There is a life hereafter, and we will be with our loved ones there.

            I have several journeys coming up this summer. I am sure you can relate to the process of getting the luggage ready. In regards to plane travel, hardest part is the packing of the luggage, the carrying of the luggage, the weighing of the luggage at the airport, the AG inspection, the tagging, and then the constant worry if it really will make it all the way to Kuala Lumpur or Frankfurt, or wherever.

            On our final journey, we get to leave all the earthly baggage behind. Maybe that is what allows us to float up to heaven. Almost everyday I pause and think about what it will feel like to leave all the baggage behind. I wonder if I should pause here so that you all can maybe think about that too.


            Back to our text for this morning, Jesus in verse 35 says something that probably caught the Sadducees’ ears: “But those who are accounted worthy to attain that age. . . .” This is a very interesting Greek word here ( καταξιώθεντες ) that describes the act of looking DOWN over something and counting it. Jesus is literally saying that God will be making an accounting of our lives.

            Jesus is confronted always with the fact that these Sadducees are spying on him. Now Jesus turns the tables and says, by the way, God is watching everything that you are doing too! God is up in heaven making an accounting right now.

            In light of this, some may be convinced that they should never be counted as worthy of attaining the afterlife with God. Yet, it appears over one hundred times in the New Testament that the accounting of our lives is so that God can pay that price for us through His Son Jesus Christ. Here is just one such example, Galatians 3:13-14 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become the curse for us—dying on the tree.” In this we see that the only thing that makes us worthy of a place in the resurrection is that Christ has redeemed us on the Cross.


            Verse 36, we are to be “equal to angels.” I want us to note that Jesus does not say that we will be angels, but rather that we will be like them—“equal” to them. It is interesting to note from what we just said before that Jesus did not go to the Cross and die for the angels in heaven. He died for us. He bled for our sins.  And, I believe that the angels have been working for our salvation, too.

            Now, an “angel” quite simply refers to a heavenly being that is “sent by God.” So, do you understand why we will be only “like” angels? We are called by God to be in heaven with Him, we are not sent from heaven to earth as are the true angels! When we die, therefore, we are not sent back to earth. We are called to heaven to be with God there.

            In the next verses, Jesus confirms this very idea with mentioning famous fathers of the faith who seem to be with God now. He mentions to the Sadducees, who do not believe in heaven, that even Moses when he is talking with God through the burning bush on Mount Sinai is in the presence of God, who remains in presence with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Even then King David is mentioned in this context.

            Non-believers like to always ask me this question: “Well, if we are all saved but by Jesus Christ, what about all those people who lived before Jesus was even born? What happens to them? Huh? Huh?”

            You know what? In our bible there is what can only be called a temporal paradox. The bible can be read backwards and forwards. Just remember that everything from page one to the last lines in Revelations is focused on the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. That it is the one unbendable point in time of humanity that everything wraps around. All of time, past and future, our own future, is wrapping around the Cross on Mount Calvary.

            If you want to know the entire accounting of human history, all you have to do is look to the Cross of Christ. If you want to know your own future and the accounting of your life in the end, then look to the Cross. If you want to know your place in the Resurrection, then you must look to Jesus.