Matthew 22:29, "Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God."
This morning, many undervalue and underestimate the same two things that Jesus referenced above: scriptures and the power of God. Recent days display man's utter disdain for the Holy Bible, and regardless of the circumstances, man seems bent on discounting the power of God in life's situations. Consider a mere 50 years ago. More people were well-studied and adept at discussing the Scriptures, whereas now many are not as they do not know enough of its contents to intelligently discuss it. Likewise, people back then were more prone to attribute God's power in bringing them through situations in life and marvel at how good He had been to them. Now, people constantly talk about how "lucky" they or others are. In both cases, people today greatly err much like the Sadducees in Christ's day.
In this passage, Christ is having a series of conversations with different sects and groups. Each group is trying to trip Him up – all to no avail. When the Sadducees come to Him, they present a case according to Moses' law. In the law, a man that died without children would have his nearest kinsman raise up seed with his widow to his name. This was done so that he would not go without a name in Israel. (Deuteronomy 25:5-6) The Sadducees present a case of 7 brothers. When the first takes a wife and dies without children, his brother takes the wife and also dies without children. This progression passes through all 7 brethren; they all die, and last of all, the woman dies also. Their question that prompts Jesus's rebuke from our verse is, "Whose wife will she be in the resurrection?" After all, she had 7 husbands, so who would be hers and whose would she be in the next world?
Before we get to the main point of this writing, a quick side-bar begs investigation. The Sadducees were a sect that denied the resurrection, and they were therefore presenting a case that they patently did not believe. Therefore, we see their whole goal is to catch Christ by using a subject (the resurrection) that He believed (not them). But in so doing, they also presented a patently foolish scenario. Today, people will attempt to do the same thing to God's children that profess to follow Christ. Even though people in the world do not believe in Christ or in the Scriptures as the infallible word of God, they will present scenarios about Christ and His word to try to trip us up. In so doing, they will present just as faulty scenarios as these men presented Christ. So, when you are questioned about your belief, always remember that people sometimes ask along subject lines that they do not believe solely in an attempt to get you to doubt what you believe or convince you that there is a problem with your Jesus or your Bible. Remember Christ's words. Do not underestimate God's power or His Book. Become familiar with them so that we know a good question from a foolish and unlearned one.
The main point that we wish to investigate this morning revolves around the term "power of God" as it pertains to these Sadducees. Part of their error was not knowing the power of God. We today can nurture a mindset like a Sadducee when we fail to consider the power of God, particularly in the context Christ here uses it. He goes on to say that the resurrection is to a state similar to angels in the sense that we will neither marry nor be given in marriage. Now, we must here say that we do not go to heaven to be angels. That is not Christ's point at all. Rather, our position as the brethren of Christ is a state and place much higher than an angel (for they are celestial servants), but we are "like" angels in the sense of being unmarried, unlike how we are now. So, how do we today garner the mindset of a Sadducee by not knowing the power of God?
Quite often as a minister, I get asked questions about what heaven is going to be like. Most of my answers basically boil down to a flat, "I don't know." Sometimes, my explanation of " I don't know" takes quite a long time. Sometimes the more I talk the more I display how little I know. However, Scripture does line out some things about heaven for us. One of them is the sense that everything in heaven is better than it is now. Paul so adamantly expressed the thought that he said everything we endure here pales in comparison to what shall be done in us. (Romans 8:18) Go read that text and catch the little but powerful expression "in us." It is true that heaven is a glorious place full of the wonder and majesty of Almighty God. However, Paul says that all we have or will have down here does not compare to that glory that will one day be revealed "in us." Can you imagine a body that is completely free from pain and illness? Furthermore, can you fathom a body that is so perfect, complete, and glorious that the former things do not even enter? Consider our bodies ravaged by pain, cancer, etc. Those same bodies are going to be raised in glorious power so that ALL traces of what was once in them is gone.
Now if these bodies will have such a physical constitution of perfection that nothing evil can enter and all traces of the former are swallowed up in immortality, what about the mental faculties? Paul contrasts our mental state now with eternity by showing the difference between a man and a child's mentality. The child walks like a child, speaks like a child, and acts like a child. But, men are required to put off childish things. (I Corinthians 13:11-12) Therefore, our sight and understanding now being through a glass darkly is like the child's life of immature understanding. The experience of seeing Him face to face is akin to a man's mature understanding after becoming full grown. Paul concludes the contrast by saying that we shall know even as we are known. Know who? While it is undeniably true that we will know one another and have personal identity in the resurrection (I Corinthians 15:41-42), that is not Paul's point here. Rather, we will know Him who loved us even as He knows us. What a glorious thought!
Our mental faculties will be so heightened in that glorified air that we know Him as He knows us. He knows us so completely that He knows the difference between our soul and spirit, the difference between our joints and marrow, and can even discern the thoughts and intents of our heart. (Hebrews 4:12) One day, I will know the Trinity of the Godhead and be able to line out the difference just as He can line out the differences of my person. Just as He knows my thoughts and heart's desires, so one day I will be able to look upon Him and know why His heart desires certain things. I will finally be able to answer that question, "Why oh why did the Lord love me?" I will know His heart's desire. I will know why. All questions will be gone as I will know Him completely!
Getting back to the Sadducees' scenario, we see similar mindsets today. Quite often today, well-meaning but ignorant people will say, "If I don't see my children in heaven, it won't be heaven." Or they might say, "If I don't see my husband/wife in heaven, it won't be heaven." More alarmingly, some will say, "If I can't be with my husband/wife in heaven, it won't be heaven." While these statements miss the mark of Scriptures, how do they miss the mark of the power of God? If we are raised from weakness to power, we are raised to a state that these minds cannot fully envelop right now. Heaven is more glorious than our immature minds are able to handle. Just like a child cannot handle some of the more intricate details of life, so we cannot handle the absolute power and glory that shall accompany our ride into heaven.
While I love my wife and children now to the point of being willing to die for them, I do not expect to love them any more/less than anyone else in heaven. Nor do I expect my wife to be my wife in heaven. I do expect to see her there, but it will not be as my wife. She and I will be congregated in that blessed band with one focal and unified thought: praise to the One that we finally see as He is and can praise Him as we ought. My children will not be more special to me in heaven any more than your children will be more special to you in heaven. In heaven, our whole force and energy will be to thank Him for what we finally know IN FULL that He has done for us.
When I consider God's power in speaking this universe into existence, my mind pales at the thought. It simply blows the circuits to think about it. Yet, when I think about this body, this mind, this person that I am still plagued by sin actually being perfect, it is absolutely astonishing. It is astonishing enough to me personally when I am blessed with His power to preach in great power and liberty by His Holy Spirit. Yet, even that scene does not compare with the glory and the scene of the resurrection. Imagine to the utmost stretch, but the reality will make that imagination die away in wonder. Brethren, I simply do not have a lot of answers about heaven, but one thing I know is that the power of God is going to raise us to a point that we simply cannot fathom now. Natural ties will cease to be important. What we experience in this life cannot compare to that glory. What we know of Him there will simply be the most refreshing and delightful thing that has ever been known. Eternity will not be a whit too short to thank Him or worship Him for all of that goodness.