Good morning. A word from Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘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)
Chicken Little has made a comeback with a vengeance. He and his cohorts are running loose crying out, “The sky is falling. The sky is falling.” And truth be told, that chorus of voices may be knocking at the door of our hearts.
Outside of the small percentage of us who are always cooking up doomsday scenarios, the rest of us couldn’t have imagined the days we are experiencing right now. It is hard to foresee a virus doing the kind of damage it is doing, or dictating the wide spread changes we are facing. And yet, here we are with our world turned upside down.
Against this backdrop, I want to turn back to the Holy Tuesday showdown taking place in the pages of Scripture. With the Pharisees whiffing in their attempt to take Jesus down, it is now the Sadducees turn to step onto the mound. (Obviously a baseball analogy isn’t historically accurate, but it’s as close as we can get to a game right now, and besides baseball season is just around the bend. I’m in that sort of mood. Ok. Here we go.) They throw their best curve ball, slider and cutting fast ball in an attempt to put a “K” next to Jesus.
They come straight at Jesus based on two things. First, they bring their controversial intellectual bias against an afterlife of any sort. Second, they create a scenario for a very complicated post death situation involving the Old Testament “rules” which sought to provide a kind of social security for widows and carrying forth the family lines. Thus, they spin a tale about seven brothers and the wife they leave behind. As they throw the last pitch, they are already stepping towards the dug out – certain it will be the third strike (or in this case – the seventh).
Rather than focus on the details, I want to spend our time on Jesus’ response. He basically hits a “homerun” with the words, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” Ouch!
Because they limited their understanding to a few books (and select passages) instead of the whole Word of God (the Old Testament at the time), they were missing key information. On top of that, they were limiting the power of God – a God who is “not the God of the dead but of the living.”
In other words, the Sadducees had no idea what was waiting on the other side or what life in the new world would be like. Their vision was restricted by comparing the past with the present and projecting it into the future.
We are tempted to take a similar approach to the days we are experiencing. We’re not sure what life will look like on the other side of this virus, so the Chicken Little within us begins a litany fueled by fear. But now is the time to turn back to the Promises of His Word – not to give us a problem-free life or a virus-free world, but to be with us in whatever comes our way. He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
Life is challenging right now, but the sky is not falling. We will come through this and God will be reigning tomorrow as He is today. Instead now is the time to look upward and listen to the words Jesus would speak later that same day, “At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:27-28).
Pastor Bryan E. Drebes
Pastor Drebes attended Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, beginning in 1997. He spent the summer of 1999 teaching English to Chinese middle school teachers in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China. He served a four-month vicarage at St. John Lutheran Church, Plymouth, Wisconsin, followed by eight months at Bethany Lutheran Church, Overland Park, Kansas. Pastor Drebes was ordained into the Office of the Holy Ministry at Zion Lutheran Church, Palmyra, Missouri on August 19, 2001, and installed as Associate Pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church, Overland Park, Kansas on September 9, 2001. He served Bethany for 14 years. Pastor Drebes accepted a Divine Call to be Senior Pastor at Pacific Hills Lutheran Church in November, 2015.