GOSPEL OF MARK – ROBBY GALLATY – Program 42
By: The John Ankerberg Show
|By: Pastor Robby Gallaty; ©2011|
|Is the physical bodily resurrection of Jesus something that’s important for Christians to believe? Why or why not?|
Life After Death
The title of the message this morning is Life After Death. About a decade ago, Time Magazine conducted a poll focusing on the resurrection and they polled the people to ask them if they believed in the resurrection. And of those who said they affirm belief in the resurrection, two thirds of them said they do not believe that there will be a bodily resurrection after we die—two thirds of believers. In the 1990’s, you may remember the popular liberal scholar group called The Jesus Seminar. The title is pretty misleading because you would think these guys would search in a way to determine and to prove the facts of the Bible. But what they actually did was they searched out the facts of the Bible trying to disprove the sayings of Jesus. And what they did is they looked through the Bible through a series of filters and they determined that Jesus only said 20% of the red letters in the Bible. They disproved the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s probably disturbing to some.
But what’s even more bothersome is what one of the leaders said, Marcus Borg, about his belief of Easter. Listen to what he writes: As a child, I took for granted that Easter actually meant that Jesus rose from the dead. I now see Easter entirely different. For me, Jesus rising from the dead is irrelevant. The tomb being empty is irrelevant. Whether Easter involves something happening to the physical body of Jesus is irrelevant. Borg is making the claim that the physical body of Jesus rising from the dead is not important to the Christian life.
My friends, I beg to differ with him. If the physical body of Jesus Christ rising from the dead is irrelevant, then your physical body after you die rising from the dead with non-existent either. This can’t be the case because as we read the New Testament, we come across passages that clearly portray something different. In 1 Corinthians 15:17, Paul says, And if Christ has not been raised from the dead, then your faith is futile and you’re still in your sins. And those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. In Christ we have hope in this life not only in this life. But we are a people to be most pitied if Christ did not rise from the dead.
Friends, this morning, the doctrine of the resurrection, as we will see, is the cornerstone of Christianity. And this morning as Jesus attacks the Sadducees for their faulty thinking, my goal is to show you the importance of the resurrection by studying a group of disillusioned people, understanding the devastating problem that they had so that you and I will not the same mistake today in our Christian walk.
If you have Bibles, turn with me to Mark 12:18: “And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, ‘Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.’”
They thought they had a clever question here: “Jesus said to them, ‘Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, “I am [Underline that] the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.’”
Let me give you the two overriding themes of the passage. We’ll take them first in two sections. The first one, right out of the gate we meet a group of disillusioned people, a group of disillusioned people with a senseless conviction. Look at it in the text—a senseless conviction. They said right out of the gate, verse 18, that the Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. See, the Sadducees of Jesus’ day could not understand how the body after death could be raised from the dead.
Now this is the third attack in a series of attacks. Let’s go back to Mark 11:27. We see that Jesus, after riding into town on the colt, is attacked by four different groups of people, determining if he’s the spotless Lamb of God. From the 10th day of Nisan until the 14th, the lamb was put aside to determine if he was without spot or blemish. The religious leaders of Israel are trying to determine if Jesus is without spot or blemish. And here’s the third attack by the Sadducees.
Now there were two groups that dominated the religious scene in the first century. I want to give them to you, just a background of history. Do you know what the two groups were that dominated the religious scene in the first century? The Sadducees and the who? The Pharisees. But they were miles apart theologically. See, the Pharisees on this side believed in the divine sovereignty of God, where the Sadducees believed in the free will of human beings. They were miles apart. On this side, the Pharisees believed in life after death. The Sadducees didn’t. The Pharisees believed in angels and the afterlife. The Sadducees didn’t.
But the main point of contention, as we see in the story here, is that the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection. And if you study this senseless conviction back to its source, you realize that the Sadducees only held to the first five books of the Torah. That’s all they accepted. So they loved to debate theological debates, but the problem was they only held as reliable sources of God’s Word the Torah—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The Pharisees, on the other hand like us professing believers today, we hold to the whole group of canonical writings of the Old Testament, the prophets, the writings, and the Torah. And so the Sadducees reasoned that since we cannot find the resurrection in the Torah, then we can’t accept it.
Acts 23:8 gives us an insight into the Sadducees. Notice what Dr. Luke says: “For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.” That’s the reason they are sad you see because they don’t believe in the resurrection, right? See the doctrine of the resurrection is actually foreshadowed in the Old Testament. We find it in Isaiah 26. We see it in Ezekiel 37. We see it in Daniel 12. We see it in Psalm 73. But the Sadducees didn’t accept these books, so they put the doctrine aside because they couldn’t believe in it.
Now the doctrine of the resurrection—let me give you some more insight—was widely accepted in the first century by the rabbis. In the Mishnah, there is a saying which says, whoever denies the resurrection of the dead has no share in the world to come. So, the rabbis even believed in the resurrection in the first century. They understood that Enoch and Elijah did not die but were translated into another world. And so they widely accepted the doctrine of the resurrection. Friends, we see the Sadducees, the root of this disillusioned people, was a senseless conviction based on part of the Bible. They only understood part of the Bible and so they had a disillusioned understanding of what the resurrection was about.
But then it led to a second aspect and their problem was they asked a silly question. They had a senseless conviction, but then they asked a silly question. And you have to admit it’s pretty silly. The Sadducees come to Jesus and they try to discredit the resurrection by coming up with a question about a woman who did not bear any children with her first husband and then continued to marry on seven different brothers. They understood that this would happen. Now, they didn’t understand that Jesus had already mentioned resurrection if they would have followed him: In Mark 8:31, in Mark 9:31, in Mark 10:34. On three different occasions, Jesus mentions the fact that he will rise again in bodily form. But in order for you and I to truly understand the question of the Sadducees, we have to understand Levirate marriage.
Follow me for a moment. Levirate marriage. Levirate marriage was this idea in the Old Testament that if a man married a woman and she was childless, then the brother of the man was forced to marry the woman, take her in, in order for two things to happen: one, to preserve the name of the deceased man; and secondly, to keep the property and the inheritance in the family. So it was the right of the brother to marry the brother’s sister, who was deceased. Now Levirate marriage was never meant to propagate polygamy. It was only meant in order to prevent the Jewish people from intermarrying with the Gentiles in order to protect the lineage of God’s people, in order to protect the property of God’s people.
Ironically enough, if you study the Apocrypha, which is the non-canonical books of the Old Testament, there is a story in Tobit, and I normally don’t bring this up but this is interesting. In the book of Tobit, there is an incidence of a woman whose husband died and she went on to marry seven different brothers and remained childless, Tobit 3:7. This could be the background for the hypothetical question by the Sadducees. See, in their mind they had conducted or constructed a clever question. They’re going to stump Jesus here, because there’s no way this woman could rise from the dead and be married to seven different brothers. They realize that they had solidified a question that would make resurrection ludicrous. But they don’t realize they’re not disagreeing with a normal man here. They’re going up against the God of the universe, my friends, and as we’ve seen the senseless conviction has led to a silly question.
But now we take a shift in the problem. See, Jesus says you guys are a disillusioned people. But there is devastating problem below the surface. And that’s the second aspect of the text. Write it down. A devastating problem. Notice what Jesus doesn’t do. Jesus doesn’t answer their question. He doesn’t say here’s the answer to your question. Jesus points out a problem with their theology. Look at what he says: “‘Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures [Now, this is an indictment.], nor the power of God? Second Timothy 3:7, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. That’s the Sadducees. They love to debate. They love to get in the courtyard and talk about theology and doctrine all day.
The Greek word for wrong there in the text, the English word error, is the Greek word planao. And what’s interesting is the Greek word planao is actually where we get the English word planet and it means to wander about. Look at the word picture. It means to go off track. And Jesus said, You guys in some kind of way have gotten off track. You love to debate but you’re actually wrong. By Jesus accusing the Sadducees—feel the weight of this—that they were in error, it would be the equivalent of me walking into MD Anderson Hospital and telling the doctors they know nothing about medicine. Can you feel the weight of that? Jesus is saying, You guys love to debate theology, you love to debate scripture but you know nothing about the scripture and you know nothing about the power of God. Now that’s what they prided themselves on. See, they prided themselves on knowing the Torah and they prided themselves on having the power of the Sanhedrin. And Jesus said you’re wrong in both, my friends. The things that you pride yourself on are the very things you’re in error of.
Look at verse 25: “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels….” Augustus Strong says There will be some sort of physical connection between the body that is not and the body that shall be. [Follow this.] What that physical connection is is vain to speculate. We only teach that, though there may not be a single material particle in the new that was present in the old, there yet will be such a physical connection between the two that it can be said that the new has grown out of the old, that which is in the grave has come forth, this mortal body has put on immortality.
Notice Jesus doesn’t say that we become angels. For we know when we die—1 Corinthians 6:3—you and I will judge the angels. Did you know that, that believers will actually judge the angels? What he says is that we will be like the angels in the sense there will be no marriage. Now, you have to follow me through this idea and it’s biblical. When you die, you will no longer be married to your husband or your wife. We get that in a couple of instances. Romans 7:2, “For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law [concerning her husband].” First Corinthians 7:39, “A wife is bound as long as her husband lives. But if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.”
Now there are three reasons why marriage will end in death. The first one is this: God has ordained, through the covenant of marriage, through the divine instrument of marriage, a husband coming together, a man leaving his father and mother, coming together as one, to continue the human race and to be fruitful for the Lord. So the idea is God has orchestrated that in heaven from God we will come to the earth and multiply the earth. Now, when we get to heaven, there’ll be no more births. But Robby, what about sexual fulfillment? Will we need that in heaven? And the answer is no. See you and I, the intimacy we experience with our husband or our wife will be fulfilled by Christ in heaven. We won’t need anything in heaven. We will be sustained by the Lord Jesus Christ. So the first reason marriage will end is that there will be no more need for birth in heaven.
The second reason marriage will end is that marriage completes a man and a woman. God said a woman shall come together and be a man’s helpmate. So when you marry, your spouse completes you, in a sense, on earth. She supports you. He supports her. He takes care of her. He leads. She supports him. When you get to heaven, you won’t need to be completed by any person other than God. The Lord Jesus Christ will complete you in heaven. There will no need to be completed by another person. So God will fulfill all your desires and your wants.
Finally, marriage is a picture of God’s relationship with his people. Christ is the bridegroom and the church is the what? The bride of Christ. We shouldn’t be surprised that when we get to heaven marriage will not be there, because we will be joined with Christ as his bride.
Now, friends, I love my wife. Kandi is the godliest woman I know. She’s the person who’s always there for me. She’s always encouraging me when I’m down. I love Kandi more than life itself. But if my love for Kandi is ever more than my love for God, it’s an idol. Did you catch that? If my love for my wife is more than my love for Christ, it’s an idol. I said it last week. An idol is anything or anyone that you love more than God. Now, it’s not wrong to love your spouse here, but as you love Christ, Christ works in you to work through you to love your wife the way you should love your wife.
And here’s a good teaching point. If you love your spouse more than you love Christ then you have an idol in your life. See, as you love Christ and your first allegiance is to him, God works in you to love other people. In the next week’s passage, the scribe comes up to Jesus and says Jesus, what is the greatest commandment? What’s the one non-negotiable thing that we have to know? Guess what Jesus says. Love God. Any questions?
And so, friends, as we see, while we’ll be with our loved ones who believed in Christ in heaven, we’ll be not married to our spouses any more since our relationship will be superseded by our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, which was the reason we were created, to have communion and intimacy with Christ.
So we notice they had a problem because they denied the power of God. That’s the first problem. They denied the power of God. But Jesus says you have a greater problem. You deny the Word of God. Look at it verse 26. You denied the word of God: “And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, [Here’s the key word] ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?” In essence, what Jesus does is he uses their own weapon against them. They were wielding the Torah and Jesus is saying, How about I use the Torah against you guys?
Look at Exodus 3:2. Notice what Jesus does here: “And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, ‘I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.’ When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then he said, ‘Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ [Moses knew something was about to happen.] And he said, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.”
Notice what God doesn’t say. God doesn’t say I was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; I used to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He says I am the God…the present tense verb to what? To be. If Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are dead, as the Sadducees said, then God’s promise to them was limited only to the duration of their life. But God’s Word cannot be put in a box. And as we see here, God would not align himself to someone who is dead unless he has raised those men from the dead to make them alive. Jesus’ argument is this. His argument on the resurrection is based on the fact that God establishes a relationship with a human being on earth and it does not end at death. It’s an eternal relationship.
Jesus concludes in 12:27 of Mark by saying these words: “[God] is not God of the dead, but of the living. You [guys] are quite wrong.” Now, notice that word wrong again. He used it early in the passage. He uses it again. It’s the same word planao, the word for planet, and he bookends the session on the thought or the idea that the Sadducees whole doctrine is bookended with the word wrong. You guys are in error. You’re whole starting point is wrong.
This is what’s interesting about theology. If you start off on the wrong foot, you’re way off in the end. And the wrong foot was the power of God and the Word of God. They did not understand either. Notice that Jesus doesn’t correct their error. You would almost think that Jesus would say Let me tell you what heaven is like, or let me explain to you what the resurrection is like. But he doesn’t do that because he understands that human beings in our earthly, finite minds cannot comprehend heavenly images. We cannot comprehend what the afterlife is like because we don’t have any frame of reference. He uses familiar things in terms that they do understand.
This is what he says. There’ll be no marriage in heaven and there’ll be no giving of marriage in heaven. See, for Jesus Christ—folks, come in close—the resurrection is the fundamental doctrine that is crucial to the Christian life. It was fundamental for Jesus and it should be fundamental for you and I, and I’ll prove it to you. Jesus, on three different occasions, raises people from the dead. In Mark 5:41 he raised and brought back to life the daughter of Jairus. In Luke 7:14, he brought the son of the widow of Nain back to life. John 11, he goes to the tomb. He calls out to Lazarus, come forth! And Lazarus comes forth back from the dead after being dead for three days.
At Jesus’ death and resurrection, if you remember in Matthew 27, people actually come out of the grave back to life. Let me read it to you. Verse 52: “The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after [Jesus’] resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.”
Jesus, by his own admission—Mark 8:31, 9:31, and 10:34—Jesus said I will go to the cross, I will be beaten by the hands of the chief priests and elders. I will rise from the dead on the third day. Jesus fulfilled these predictions—Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20-21. Jesus rose from the dead.
But it goes on. Jesus even spoke of the resurrection of the dead. John 11:25, he said I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he may die, yet shall live and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? That’s what he says. John 14:19, Yet in a little while the world will see Me no more but you will see Me. Because I live, you also will live. Jesus describes the significance of the resurrection in John 6:44. No one can come to me unless the Father draws them to Me and I will raise them up on the last day.
See, for people who refuse the resurrection of the bodily resurrection of believers after death, death is inescapable for them. Friends, if life ends when we die, death is the ultimate enemy. Friends, our God has promised by his power to raise us from the dead. He demonstrated that in raising Jesus from the dead and the glorious truth for believers is that you and I have hope to know that the life after death exists and death is not the end for believers and that deserves an amen today.
Friends, listen to me. For believers, we have hope for the future—1 Corinthians 15:51, this is what Paul writes: “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed…in the twinkling of an eye, [in a moment’s notice] at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”
I love what Dwight Moody said, DL Moody, Someday you’ll read about in the paper MOODY IS DEAD. Don’t believe it. Don’t believe it. At that moment, I shall be more alive than I am now. I was born to the flesh in 1837. I was born in the Spirit in 1855. That which is born of the flesh will die. But that which is born of the Spirit shall live forever.
So, Robby, what’s our walking point this morning? What should we do because of what we just heard? You need to evaluate what you believe this morning. You need to determine this morning if you have gotten caught up with a disillusioned idea that the resurrection, bodily resurrection does not exist after this life. See, the Sadducees debated and they didn’t understand the resurrection. See, what’s interesting is that the problem for the Pharisees was this: They couldn’t understand the Word of God and they didn’t understand the power of God. But—watch this—the person who embodied both was standing right before them. John 1:1, In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh… it was Jesus Christ.
And then Jesus over and over demonstrated the power of God. At his baptism, he was filled with the power of God. His ministry, the Spirit thrust him into the wilderness. He walked on water. He raised the dead. He rose from the dead himself. He was the embodiment of the power and the Word of God and these guys missed it.
You know what’s sad? There are people with us today who will miss it as well. See, every person in here has a choice. You either accept the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ or you reject the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. See, what’s amazing about God is that he didn’t allow us to wallow in our sin. See, without belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, you will never see heaven. You won’t be bodily raised from the dead to be with the Lord for eternity and like the Sadducees you’ll be separated from God for eternity.
Listen to me, my friends, eternity is long to be wrong. Think about that. Eternity is long to be wrong. God did something about the sin problem that happened in the Garden. You and I came into this world and were infected with sin because of the sin of Adam in the Garden. It infected the entire human race. It’s worse than cancer. It’s worse than AIDS because when we die, cancer ends or AIDS will end or physical illness will end. Sin has eternal effects. But God did something about this sin problem. He sent Jesus to the world. He came as a perfect sacrifice. He lived a perfect life. He was without sin. He went to the cross willingly, submitting to the will of the Father. He died on the cross. He went into the tomb but he wouldn’t stay there. God would raise Him from the dead, seat him at the right hand of the Father. But before he was seated at the right hand of the Father for 40 days he showed himself to over 500 people proving that the resurrection was real.
And friends, you and I have a choice today. We either can reject the Lord Jesus Christ or we can accept the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, I know what you’re saying. You’re saying, Robby, I’m not ready to make a decision today. Do you know that by not making a decision today, you’ve already made a decision and the decision is to reject Christ? Friends, here’s the two paths that you can live. If you reject the Lord Jesus Christ, you reject God as the ruler of this world. You run your own life your own way. You’re the captain of your own ship. You walk in this church and you leave the same way you came in with you in control of your life. Here’s the result of that. You will suffer condemnation by God and judgment and death, ultimately hell.
But God said if you accept the gospel, if you understand that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, if you acknowledge him as Lord, if you receive the forgiveness of sins through repentance and faith, God will forgive your sins. He will wipe them away clean. I don’t care how bad you think you are. I don’t care how much bad you’ve done in your past. God will wipe them away clean. He’ll give you a clean slate this morning and it will start over. In the eyes of God, you’ll be justified as if you’ve never sinned before. And guess what the reward for that is? It’s an incredible result. You’ll be forgiven by the God of the universe and you’ll have a place in heaven, name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and you’ll be given eternal life.
So, Robby, how do we do that? Do I have to take a test? Do I have to know the Bible? Do I have to sign up for a class? No. Two sides to the same coin—repentance and faith. Repentance is a 180 degree turn from going in a self-destructive path of sin and selfishness and depravity and you turn around and you say I’m going to turn from my sin and you turn, namely, to the Lord Jesus Christ. Through faith you put your faith in Christ. Faith is putting your faith in the Lord, giving God your life, surrendering to God everything you have, acknowledging Him as Lord that He becomes the master of your ship, the captain of your own life.
So, my friends, the question is, which one is it going to be? Are you going to be like the Sadducees and reject the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ? Or, will you willingly put everything you have, repenting of your sins and trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ?