I recently presided over the graveside service of the father of one of the members of my congregation. The day before, two sons of the deceased man had come to the beautiful country cemetery to dig their own father’s grave. Allow that to set in for a moment.
It was at the end of the service that I was no longer able to hold back my tears. Family and friends all stood in silence as these two brothers lowered the urn of their father’s remains into the earth and slowly covered it with dirt, shovelful after shovelful. What a profound ritual of remembrance. What a powerful reminder of the brevity of life on this earth.
Before I left, I prayed that my words during the service would comfort them as they faced the harsh reality of his death. The good news: this was not goodbye; it was “see you soon.”
It is in this passage from Matthew 22 that Jesus challenges the Sadducees, the religious teachers of the day, in their limited understanding of life beyond this world. Quoting Exodus 3:6, Jesus says, “Now concerning the resurrection of the dead, haven’t you read what was spoken to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (vv. :31-32).
Jesus called forth this poignant passage, one the religious leaders would have been familiar with, for a reason. When these words were written in Exodus, the men mentioned had been dead for centuries; however, it was written in present tense. Why did the writer of Exodus refer to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as living?
You see, Jesus was pointing the Sadducees to God’s power to raise not only the patriarchs, but also all of God’s people to enjoy His eternal covenant in the world to come—an eternal life beyond anything they could imagine by comparison to life in this world.
As Christians, we understand that when Christ sat down at the right hand of the Father following His death, resurrection, and ascension, it was a declaration that His work was finished (Hebrews 10:12-13; Psalm 110:1). Sin and death had been defeated. Death no longer has the last word. For all believers, there is an Easter morning to come.
Written by Matt Capps