April 20, Friday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Mark 12:18-27

And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, 19 “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. 20 There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. 21 And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. 22 And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. 23 In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”24 Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 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 the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”

Ernest Becker, a Jewish-American cultural-anthropologist in the 60’s and 70’s, is famous for writing The Denial of Death. Its thesis states that human civilization is essentially a complex defense mechanism in the face of its own mortality. In other words, humanity is terrified of its inevitable death and attempts to structure life in such a way as to find meaning, in spite of our inescapable mortality. Becker wrote this Pulitzer-winning book while battling colon cancer and facing his own imminent death. And the book was praised for its insight as many related to his conclusion.

All of us are afraid of death, not necessarily because it is something we do not understand but because it robs us of lasting meaning. All of our hard work and accolades lose their significance when we pass away. As a result, people have been desperately searching for a way to have true meaning that can overcome the problem of death. Becker calls this “immortality projects”; it is our way of remaining alive after life has ended.

Here, in our passage for today, Jesus is tested by the Sadducees on the doctrine of the resurrection. Interestingly, the Sadducees did not believe that God would resurrect the righteous at the end of time; that was a Pharisaic belief. They posed this question, as a trap, in order to make Jesus look bad; however, Jesus avoids their trap and disagrees with them, stating that God is not God of the dead, but of the living. In other words, He believes in the resurrection. In some ways, this is a foreshadowing of His own resurrection that would take place after His death.

For many of us, the resurrection is a doctrine that we only think about during Easter. However, it must be something that informs our lives on a daily basis. The resurrection tells us that there is life after death; that death is not the final word but life is—all because of the victory we find in Jesus. As a result, we do not need our own “immortality projects,” because Christ has accomplished it through His death and resurrection. This means that our work in the present has eternal significance that cannot be robbed by death’s power. And the life we live for God will not be in vain but will be everlasting. Let us remember today that the work of God’s kingdom, whether at church or in our workplace, will not go to waste. We are part of a project that will last forever.

Prayer: Father, thank You that death does not have the last say in my life because of the resurrection of Your Son. In light of this, help me to live for the eternal and not the temporal things of life. Help me to invest into the work of Your kingdom rather than things that will one day fade away.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Thessalonians 5


Lunch Break Study

Read John 11:17-27: Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Questions to Consider

  1. How does Jesus respond to Martha’s grief and pain?
  2. What do you think Jesus means when He says that He is the resurrection and the life?
  3. What role does the resurrection play in your life?

Notes

  1. Jesus responds by telling her that her brother will rise. She thinks that He is talking about the doctrine of the resurrection, which says that the righteous will rise at the end of time. However, Jesus wants to divert her focus away from an abstract doctrine to the person of the resurrection, who is Jesus Himself. Eternal life and resurrection is not found in believing a doctrine but by believing in the person of Christ.
  2. Resurrection can only be had through Jesus Christ. No other means can overcome death.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

“The point of the resurrection…is that the present bodily life is not valueless just because it will die…What you do with your body in the present matters because God has a great future in store for it…What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether (as the hymn so mistakenly puts it…). They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.” – N.T. Wright

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