October 17, 2021
Death vs Resurrection
TODAY, I want to preach the message, Your Easter Sunday is coming.
And I also want to add a new phrase as part of your core vocabulary as a Jesus Follower: New Heavens and New Earth. This phrase is found in many parts
of the Bible — Isaiah 65, Revelations 21, 2 Peter 3– Bible scholars’ shorthand way of saying this is Renewed Creation.
Question: Is this the same as Heaven? Not quite. Because when we say Heaven, we understand it as this ethereal place-in-the-sky where our souls go after we die; it’s about with halos, harps, and with everyone wearing white hospital gowns.
For many Christians, this idea of Heaven is their end goal, their ultimate dream, and even the purpose of their life. You read very saintly persons say, “My number one goal is to go to Heaven.” You also read quotes like “Earth is just a dress rehearsal for Eternity.” In one sense, all these statements are true.
But they’re lacking.
What Is Our Number One Goal?
If you read the sacred text, Heaven—as we understand it today—isn’t the number one goal of Jesus Followers. What is? Check what Jesus told us to pray in the Our Father: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
The goal is not to go to Heaven– but to bring Heaven down to Earth.
Here’s another way of saying it: Our goal is Renewed Creation.
To annex this world for His Kingdom. To live life to the full with Jesus as Lord. To make every area of our life—career, family, health, hobbies—become the Imago Dei. To be God’s Love to those who desperately need it. And I hope joining The Feast every week makes this happen.
For Jesus Followers, this is a major paradigm shift of cataclysmic proportions. We need to rewire our Christian brain.
And I hope joining The Feast every week makes this happen.
We Won’t Just Be a Bunch of Souls Floating Around
What’s the biggest difference between our idea of Heaven and what the Bible calls New Heavens and New Earth?
Here it is: The Renewed Creation is going to be physical.
The Apostles Creed says, “We believe in the resurrection of the dead.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says it too.
This means we won’t just be floating souls in a transparent Heaven. Each one of us will have a resurrected body. Like Jesus, we can eat. My guess is that there’ll be pizza and coffee and buttery croissants in the Renewed Creation. We can probably bike and swim and run and Zumba. Except that everything is perfected by a zillion time.
Pet lovers ask me all the time, “Bo, do pets have souls?” Answer: I don’t know. But that may be the wrong question to ask. The better question is: Will God include pets in the New Heavens and New Earth?
My guess is, “Yes.”
Your Mission: Bring Heaven Down to Earth
Memorize this line:
God’s agenda is not migration but transformation. Christianity is not about building a spaceship to escape to Heaven. Christianity is building a city here and now where God’s Love reigns.
That’s why our goal is not just to “save souls”. Whenever I do a financial seminar, some very religious persons comment, “Bo, why are you doing this? Why not focus on saving souls and making sure that they go to Heaven? Isn’t that more important?”
My answer: Going to Heaven is important. But so is bringing Heaven to Earth, especially to those who are experiencing Hell in their finances.
Abundance doesn’t only mean Heaven but a personal relationship with God that pervades every dimension of life.
Ultimately, abundance means God’s Love permeating your talking, walking, living, sleeping, relating every single moment.
This intro was my way of tilling the soil of your heart, to get ready for the seed of God’s Word…
Who Are the Sadducees?
WE’RE in this sub-section where Jesus answers three questions from the religious leaders. And in the second question, we meet people who were on the opposite side of the spectrum. If some modern Christians are so focused on going to Heaven and want to forget earthly life, we now meet guys who don’t even believe in the afterlife and just want to maintain the status quo. Strange, right?
Let’s go verse by verse:
Who are the Sadducees? How are they different from the Pharisees?
The word Sadducee is derived from Zadok, the high priest during the time of King David and King Solomon.
The Sadducees were a sect or party, a unique bunch in Israel’s religious leadership. They were a very small group, but they were very influential and had deep pockets. They lived in Forbes Park and drove Rolls Royces. They were also in charge of the Temple.
The Sadducees accepted only the written Law of the time– the Torah, the first five books of the Bible– not the book of the Prophets. Why?
Just read any of the Prophets in the Bible, and you’ll see them criticizing the religious leaders.
The Sadducees did not believe in the existence of spirits, so they did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. They believed that once a person dies, that’s it. He’s gone. If you were a Sadducee, upon your death, you’re like a puff of smoke blown in the wind.
The Sadducees were not like the Pharisees who believed in the resurrection.
The Pharisees believed in the supernatural– angels, demons, heaven, hell.
The word Pharisee comes from the Hebrew and Aramaic word parush or parushi, meaning separated. Also an ancient Jewish sect, the Pharisees were called separatists because they strictly observed written Law– as well as traditional law.
I guess not believing in a resurrection of the dead was more convenient for the Sadducees– because if they’re living in luxury, why bother with the afterlife? People in power will avoid any re-leveling of power.
But Jesus believed in the resurrection of the dead. So, the Sadducees shared a silly story of a wife, who had seven husbands, to prove that the resurrection of the dead was a silly idea too. But their plan backfired.
The Silly Story of Seven Hubbies
Let’s read their question: They posed this question: 24 “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies without children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name.’ 25 Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children, so his brother married the widow. 26 But the second brother also died, and the third brother married her. This continued with all seven of them. 27 Last of all, the woman also died. 28 So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her.” (v.23-28)
To us, the story sounds more like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. But not at that time, because they had this thing called “Levirate Marriage” (see Deuteronomy 25). This Mosaic Law was designed to continue the family line of a guy who died childless to preserve his name and possessions. How? Let a brother of the dead guy marry his widow. (Historians say that few practiced it, but at least, it was honored in theory.)
But Jesus blows them away with His answer…
No Marriage in Heaven? (Bummer)
Jesus says there’s no marriage in Heaven? What a bummer. All the Kdrama fans will be up in arms. My wife will be the first to complain. Because she loves me so much as I’m very irresistible.
But why did Jesus say that?
He believed that…
We have no categories for it.
You Were a Fetus
May I give you an analogy?
Once upon a time, we were a fetus.
Our lungs started to develop when we were 4 weeks old. By 30 weeks, our lungs were complete. But we were not inhaling air, we were inhaling liquid. How strange is that? We were receiving oxygen through our umbilical cord.
But one fateful day, we moved out of our comfortable home called the uterus. And in the delivery room, we took our first breath. And the umbilical cord was cut. And we started living in a vast world that we could never have imagined.
Suspend disbelief for a moment and imagine that your mom could talk to you—when you were a fetus—via mental telepathy.
And your mom told you, “Baby, your life will be very different outside my womb. Imagine blue skies and green trees and lovely mountains and wide oceans and coffee and donuts and pizza and basketball and dancing and Netflix and Kdrama and YouTube and…. Can you imagine?”
No, you can’t. A fetus won’t be able to fathom. And that’s exactly what the Renewed Creation is to us. We have no categories for it.
But there’s another message I’d like to bring out…
Marriage Is Not the Goal of Life
He was saying that:
Fact: I’ve met some singles whose ultimate goal in life is to marry their GG (GG is not galunggong but God’s Gift). Is this healthy?
Hey, marriage is great. God believes in marriage. For crying out loud, He invented it.
But life is more than marriage.
Do you know that Jesus was the only major religious teacher who didn’t get married? Muhammad got married. Gandhi got married. Even Buddha had a wife. In ancient Israel, all their religious teachers were married. So, for Jesus to be celibate made Him very odd.
Are you single and thinking of permanent celibacy?
Celibacy is prophetic, pointing to the Renewed Creation where we can love more persons…
You Can Love Everyone in the Renewed Creation
Face it. In our current state of affairs, we’re limited to how many persons we can love.
May I give you an example? Every day, I receive hundreds, if not thousands of messages from persons asking for advice and prayer. I wish I could have a cup of coffee with every person who writes to me.
To listen to each one’s story. To pray for each one’s heartache. But alas, it’s a physical impossibility.
But I believe a day will come, in the Renewed Creation, when all these limitations will be removed. And I can love everyone in God’s big family, embrace each one, listen to each one, and love each one. In the Kingdom of Jesus, every life is cherished. Every person is loved.
Finally, Jesus delivers His checkmate to the rabbinic debate why we should believe in the resurrection of the dead…
God’s Love Is Stronger Than Death
Recall how the Sadducees read only the Torah, the first 5 of 39 Books of the Hebrew Bible. In proving to them the resurrection from the dead, Jesus had to quote from the Torah, the books they were reading…
This excited me so much. I love the genius of Jesus. Jesus name drops the biggest names in the Torah: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Why? Because He knew that they were deeply respected by the Sadducees. They were considered as the patriarchs of Judaism.
Take note: God did not say I was the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. No. He said I am. That means Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are all still alive in the Renewed Creation. Hallelujah! Our God is the living God of living men. He is the Great I Am. This only proves that the resurrection of the dead is possible simply because:
Here’s why Jesus believed in the resurrection of the dead: God’s relationship with us is so strong, it cannot be terminated by death.
Your Easter Sunday Is Coming
Look around you. There’s so much death and decay and darkness everywhere, it’s so easy to give up.
But we are the resurrection people. God’s Love will conquer death.
This is our burning hope. That we will rise from the dead. And we will be part of the Renewed Creation.
Death is not the end. Cancer is not the end. COVID is not the end. A broken heart is not the end. That financial difficulty you are experiencing is not the end.
Jesus Himself had this hope ablaze with Him when He hung on the Cross. While everything around Him was still Good Friday, Easter Sunday was already exploding in His heart.
Friend, are you going through your Good Friday right now? Are you losing hope? Are you wondering, “Where is God in all this darkness?”
Hold on to hope. You’re part of the resurrection people.
Each day, work towards a New Heaven and New Earth.
Put your hand on your chest and say: “I’m an Easter person. I’m a Resurrection person. Death is not the ending because I believe that my Easter Sunday is coming!”
That’s what we believe in and that’s the Lord’s message today.
Thank You Jesus! Praise You Jesus! We are so grateful Lord that You have spoken. Thank You for this message. I want everyone who received this message to respond, to worship God.
Let’s bask in God’s Presence.
Thank You, Jesus! We worship You. We lift your Name. We exaltWW You, Lord. Father, we are immensely grateful for Your Love today. There is no other love that is greater than Yours. We open our hands, open our life, and open our spirit to receive You right now. This is our prayer. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.