Haggai 1:15b-2:9; Psalm 145:1-5, 18-21 or Psalm 98; (or job 19:23-27a; Psalm 17:1-9); 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17; Luke 20:27-38
“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books, but in every leaf in springtime.” – Martin Luther
Subtext: an underlying or covert message, theme, or idea. That’s what we have here in today’s Gospel story. Among several groups in Judaism at the time of Jesus, there were Sadducees and Pharisees. The Pharisees believed in the resurrection and afterlife, agreeing with Jesus on this point. The Sadducees, on the other hand, argued against the resurrection (Luke 20:27), a position still commonly held by many Jews today. It was the Sadducees who came to Jesus with their subtext in a mocking question. They ask Jesus about seven brothers who married the same woman. They want to know whose wife she will be in the resurrection. They are making fun of Jesus’ belief with this ludicrous question. They really don’t care about these seven brothers because they don’t believe in the afterlife. Jesus gives them a quick answer, and then more quickly goes to the heart of their subtext, their hidden agenda. He explains to them why there is a resurrection. We have all heard sermons on living the resurrected life existing now. We can rise above all that knocks us down. This is indeed true. Even today, as we go about our routines, we experience eternal life. It is not just something we have after we die. This is not to be forgotten as we go through our days. However, this Gospel passage is unabashedly about the afterlife. As we breathe in and out daily rejuvenation with every turn our histories take us, let’s be reminded of the promise to come. As Martin Luther says, let’s note what every leaf in springtime is telling us.
The Greek word for “resurrection” is a compound word with its two parts. It literally means “to stand up.” One early Christian understanding, certainly not the only one in the New Testament, was that at the time of the resurrection the dead would “stand up” physically with their bodies. The Sadducees thought that was funny, a great joke. Paul had a different idea saying the resurrection was spiritual (1 Corinthians 15:44). Nevertheless, Paul, in his letters, often uses the word meaning “to stand up.”
Now stand up today.
When today is gone for good,
Stand up forever.