Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

Luke 20:37-40 The dead are raised

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, February 14, 2019

37 “For the dead are raised. Even Moses reports this, in the account of the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.  38 Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for all come back to life in him.”  39 Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.”  40 For then they were no longer brave enough to ask him any more questions.

Jesus could have turned to any number of Old Testament Scripture passages to support the doctrine of the resurrection. Isaiah said, “Your dead will live; their bodies will rise” (Isaiah 26:19). Daniel said, “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2). The prophet Elisha restored the dead to life (2 Kings 8:5); could Elisha do a thing for one person that is impossible for God to do for all people? And Job said, “I know that my Redeemer lives… I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another” (Job 19:25, 27).

However, since the Sadducees didn’t hold the books that came after Moses to be part of the Scriptures, Jesus used Moses. But he doesn’t use the most obvious resurrection text in Moses, when Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac and told the servants, “We will worship and then we will come back to you” (Genesis 22:5). Instead, he shows that their whole view of Scripture was flawed because they rejected the doctrine of the resurrection. He uses the instance of Moses and the burning bush, where God describes himself as “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” no less than four times (Exodus 3:6, 3:15, 3:16; and 4:5). The patriarchs were long dead. Even Joseph, Jacob’s son, had been dead for some three hundred years. Yet God says that he is the God of those men, not that he was the God of those men. His divine sovereignty is over those who exist; who has sovereignty over something that doesn’t exist? A man is both body and soul. To be a God only over the souls of the dead is not a complete sovereignty. If God is the God of Abraham, then that means that Abraham will rise from the dead and be Abraham once again one day.

So when Jesus says, “He is not a God of the dead, but of the living,” it is to comfort us. Some might not be too comforted by these words, but only because they do not read the whole verse. Jesus doesn’t mean that the “God of the living” has nothing to do with the dead, or that once we’re dead we’re out of God’s mind, off his radar, so to speak, or no longer his concern. Not at all! When Jesus says that God is “God of the living,” he continues by saying, “for all come back to life in him.” That means that God is not the God of the dead because nobody stays dead! There is no god of the dead at all; the earth, sea, and sky will have to give up their dead on the Last Day (Revelation 20:13). There will be no kingdom of the dead at all. Those with a living faith will live forever with Jesus in heaven. Those without faith, who have rejected the Lord, will be punished forever in hell.

Anyone, ancient Sadducee or modern ‘Sadducee’ who rejects the physical resurrection, does not have a complete grasp of the word of God. But if you understand that mankind is sinful (Romans 3), that God removed the guilt of our sins through the crucifixion of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5), and that because of this we will rise from the dead and live with Jesus forever (1 Corinthians 15), then you understand the word of God. But be sure that you and your pastor both believe the same thing where the Bible speaks about the empty tomb (Matthew 28:9. Mark 16:6; Luke 24:3; John 20:6-13).

Jesus could not have spoken any more clearly. “The dead are raised.” “All come back to life in him.” This is for our comfort, for our confidence, and this is our entire hope—a hope that will be a certainty.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


Browse Devotion Archive