What do we know about life after death? Many of you, like me have heard stories and songs about heaven and life after death since childhood. We have heard heaven described as a place that has mansions on hilltops and each of us has one of those. We have heard stories about how we think Uncle Johnny and Aunt Beth are fishing every day, and we hear stories about family reunions when we get “over there”. You ever wonder where over there is?
In our gospel passage this morning, the Sadducees are trying to catch Jesus in a trap. They do not believe in life after death, and that means they do not believe in a resurrected life. That’s why they call them Sadducees, because they were sad you see. In our Gospel passage, what is Jesus not saying and what is He saying? I believe what he is saying here is that the resurrected life is very much different than the way we live our lives on earth today. In this life, we are born, most of us have families. We age, and most of us choose friends, close friends and usually partners to live our lives together. We work, find shelter, and every one of us dies. In contrast, in the afterlife (resurrection life) there is none of that. Things change. In the afterlife, referred to heaven or eternal life, there is no death. That means exactly what it says, you cannot die.
We cannot die anymore because Jesus says we will be like angels and are referred to after death as children of God, children of the resurrection. Jesus establishes a fact that the dead are raised, and uses the story about Moses and the burning bush to share his message about eternal life. From the burning bush, God calls out to Moses: Do not come any closer. Take off your shoes you are on holy ground. I am the God of Abraham. The God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but the living; for to him all of them are alive. “Now He is the God of all who are alive, not the dead” (Luke 20:27-38)
In the Bible we see portals into eternity, but the portals do not give us that much detail. Most of us have an idea and pictures in our mind of what heaven is like. Who is to say that is wrong? I’m not. We really do not have much to go on about heaven, or life after death. That’s because heaven, life after death, eternal life, eternity, the afterlife, and our eternal home is a destination. The emphasis in the Bible is about our journey towards this destination.
As Christians we do not need to fear about things beyond our control. In our sermons for the last couple weeks we have been reminded that Jesus has not called us to be insulated from the world. No, he says I have come to give them life, and to give them life abundantly, but they have to live and make do with things in the world, because that’s where we live. But, we do not have to be bound by things that separate us from God or each other. Because the flipside of living in this world is that Jesus promises to be with u. He sends the Holy Spirit to walk with us and to remind us that we are in this world, but not of this world. We belong to God, and we are called not only to walk and be led by the Spirit, but to rejoice always and to enjoy resurrected life now, a piece of what is to come, or we could say “a piece of heaven”.