Jesus, the scriptures, and resurrection
Jesus replied, ‘You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead – have you not read what God said to you, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.’
Matthew 22:29-32 (NIVUK)
At a recent humanist funeral I attended, a reading of the Scientists Eulogy was given. This eulogy gives a physicists view of death, in terms of the first law of thermodynamics: that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. The energy of the atoms and molecules of the deceased person is not destroyed but remains permanently in the cosmos. It is hoped that this knowledge will give comfort to the grieving relatives. The eulogy ends by saying about the deceased: You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy is still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly.
To the Sadducees of Jesus’ day who did not believe in a resurrection, or an afterlife, Jesus gave the reply given in the header scripture. He did not go into details but confirmed that there was a resurrection and that with God the dead live on.
The crux of Jesus’ argument relied on the tense of a single verb. God said, “I am” the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – not ‘I was’. In stating this Jesus was confirming the continued accuracy of transmission and the veracity of the Old Testament text written centuries beforehand.
Jesus also used an unusual expression about the scriptures. He said to the Sadducees, and to us today: ‘…have you not read what God said to you…’ (not what was written to you). Jesus tells us that when reading the scriptures God is speaking directly to us. In the New Testament Paul expresses a similar view about scripture: ‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…’ (2 Timothy 3:16).
The gospel gives a positive and totally different hope to the one given by the Scientists Eulogy: ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…’ (1 Peter 1:3). That hope includes, as stated by Jesus, ‘…whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.’ (John 5:24).
Father, we thank you for the certain hope of eternal life through belief in your son Jesus Christ. Amen.
Study by Eddie Marsh
About the writer:
Eddie Marsh attends the Sheffield congregation of Grace Communion International.
Please email the local congregational contact (see below) for information about the Sheffield congregation’s meeting venue and time.
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