Resurrection is Bigger than We Thought
Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, ‘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.” When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.
- Matthew 22:29-33
In this passage, the religious leaders are asking Jesus esoteric questions about the resurrection, trying to make him look silly (bad idea). Jesus flips the tables on them with a direct rebuke (basically saying, “You just don’t get God, do you?”) and then pulling out this wild interpretation of Exodus 3:6, emphasizing God using the present tense when referring to people dead thus proving that they are actually alive. It’s actually a strange interpretation to our ears, but the first century crowd loved it because they were more accustomed to creative interpretation (called Midrash).
It’s not worth going into some big exploration of how to correctly interpret scripture and why Jesus got to take certain liberties with it (and Paul did, too!). Today, what we want to focus on is the surface reading of the text when it comes to resurrection, since this is the week after Easter after all.
Jesus speaks to those who thought they had nailed down what was true about resurrection and lets them know in no uncertain terms that their understanding if far, far too small. They think God is limited by their interpretations - when God is so, so much bigger, and the resurrection is so, so much better.
How many times do we think of the resurrection as simply a gateway to flying on clouds and playing harps? Or how often do we think of it as our Get Out of Jail Free card for death? What if we’ve only scratched the surface of what the resurrection means, because we’ve only scratched the surface of God’s power and of what God is really about? As we’ve seen in the first three days of this week’s devotions, maybe God isn’t just using the resurrection as a ticket punch to get individuals into heaven, maybe God’s releasing power into the family of God so that we might bring life where there is death and justice to where there is darkness. Perhaps, as Jesus says in another passage about the resurrection, he’s interested in “the renewal of all things” (Matthew 19:28). How might you participate in that today?