A scene from The Canterbury Psalter (12th century)

God of the Living (Sermon)

Here’s the script of a sermon I preached on Luke 20:27-44 (Jesus versus the Sadducees) at my home church, Grace Evangelical Free Church of La Mirada, on June 25, 2023. We’re preaching our way through Luke, and it’s great to have plenty of time and space to dig deep into what Jesus taught. The sung worship included a version of The God of Abraham Praise, an excellent eighteenth-century hymn based on a medieval Jewish song (Yigdal).

I. Opening (Emmaus)
II. Resurrection-Question
          A. That’s not how any of this works
          B. How dare you?
III. The Burning Bush
IV. God’s Right Hand

I. Opening (Emmaus):

There is a scene at the very end of Luke’s Gospel that has always arrested my attention. It’s in Luke 24 –we’re going to be in Luke 20 this morning, but do you remember this scene at the end of the Gospel where Jesus has risen from the dead and he hasn’t yet made his big appearance to all the disciples; he’s just making himself known to a couple of his maybe more distant followers on the road to Emmaus. They’re still dejected and confused about how Jesus had been publicly executed, and now they’re disoriented about how some people are claiming his tomb is empty, but they don’t really know what to make of that or whether they should let themselves believe that kind of report. Meanwhile, they don’t know the guy they’re talking to is the risen Jesus! It’s the ultimate undercover boss moment.

He is not yet telling them who he is. But he explains to them, in Luke 24:26, it was “necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory.” They absolutely don’t get it. So it says in verse 27, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Well, that’s amazing.

First of all: it means that according to Jesus, the Old Testament comprehensively is about him. Second, it means that understanding Jesus in the Old Testament is so important for his followers, that even when he is right there with them in the power of the resurrection, he invests his time in a Biblical Theology Workshop, walking them through Moses and the Prophets. Let me ask you: would you rather hear from the risen Lord Jesus Christ in person, or do an Old Testament Bible Study? Ahh, trick question! False dichotomy! Because here he is, saying, “turn with me to Exodus.”

But the third thing that always gets me about this story is that Luke tells us the subject matter Jesus taught them about, but doesn’t record for us What He Actually Said. Seriously: Has there ever been a better Bible study than this one? A comprehensive Old Testament survey, all about Jesus, actually led by Jesus. What would you give for a transcript of even one little part of the Greatest Bible Study Ever? Come on, just give me the commentary on Isaiah… no, the minor prophets, I’m not greedy. What Did He Say? What happened to that information? Luke, brother, why didn’t you write this down? Not enough paper? Were you running low on red ink? Let me put this in a dangerously unsanctified way: I would be willing to trade you, in exchange for the Emmaus Road Bible Study transcript, three other small books of the New Testament…

Okay, good, good for you! I was hoping somebody would call me down on that one. That’s bad. For one thing, the word of God is perfect and God is not sitting around waiting for me to express my preferences about its contents. Shame on me.

But for another thing, and this is serious, we do in fact already have a lot of that material in the New Testament. A lot of what Jesus taught on the road to Emmaus was probably what he had already been teaching during his ministry. Luke put together his Gospel and the book of Acts later on, after the resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit, when the disciples actually had thought back over all the stuff Jesus had been saying to them, and now understood it. So that means Luke’s Gospel already contains Jesus’ actual historical teaching about himself from Moses and the prophets and the Psalms, remembered and written down by disciples who may not have understood it in the moment, but who came to understand it in time. That means, instead of playing “I wish I had a couple more chapters at the end of Luke” game, what we ought to do is understand the chapters we’ve got.

Well, that’s what we’re doing. Welcome to church. Turn to Luke chapter 20, where we have the great privilege and opportunity to study Moses under the leadership of Jesus, the Master Interpreter of the Bible.

II. Resurrection Question

Let’s read our passage, verses 27 to 38. Luke 20:27-38.

27 There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, 28 and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man [that is, his brother] must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. 30 And the second 31 and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. 32 Afterward the woman also died. 33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.”

34 And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36 for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.

37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38 Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.”

39 Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” 40 For they no longer dared to ask him any question.

Okay, these guys are the worst. The Sadducees in general were an important religious group that was very dogmatic about its very inadequate theology: as Luke tells us here, they “deny that there is a resurrection.” They’re not some kind of fringe group or little cult, but a powerful and wealthy class of highly respected families with a lot of control of the temple, and a majority representation among the priests. You couldn’t do business in Jerusalem without working with Sadducees. Over in Acts 23:8 we get some more detail: “the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit,” but by contrast “the Pharisees acknowledge them all.”

So overall, the theology of the Sadducees makes me sad, you see. But this little gang in particular seems especially feisty. They’re on their home turf in Jerusalem, and Jesus has come in from some little town up north, acting like he’s somebody special, and started to gather a crowd of listeners, and these professionals are ready to take him down. So they approach him –they start it– they pose for him a stumper of a question.

Okay, you and I know that it is a very bad idea to pick a Bible fight with Jesus. My advice: don’t do that. These guys don’t know as much as we do about that, but they are about to find out.

They do know a lot; they are fully accredited Bible scholars. You can tell from their question that they’ve worked this whole thing out very carefully, and they think they’ve got a can’t-miss interview tactic. They’ve engineered a tricky question using some language from the story in Genesis 38 (Onan and Tamar) and the rules in Deuteronomy 25, and they’ve put together a hypothetical scenario that they think proves there cannot be any such thing as the resurrection of the dead. Notice that they’re not appealing to science or common sense or something; they’re trying to use the Bible, and especially the first five books of Moses, to prove there’s no resurrection.

In other words, although they are asking a question, they aren’t using the question to get to the truth. They are using the question to make their point and perplex their opponent. They already start this conversation convinced that the resurrection is laughable, and they expect to end it by rendering Jesus speechless.

Well, Jesus is not by any means speechless. His response to their question has basically two points:

Point 1. That’s not how any of this works.

Point 2. How dare you?

Point 1: Believe it or not, we need to look pretty closely for a moment at this strange provision made in the Law of Moses about “raising up offspring” for a brother who dies with no children.  It’s not part of our modern Western culture, but it’s a widespread cultural phenomenon globally, and certainly in the ancient near east. If you’re curious about it anthropologically, check out Wikipedia’s entry on “Levirate Marriage,” [spell it out]. It has nothing to do with the name Levi, or Leviticus; Levirate is from a Latin word meaning “brother in law” and a glance at Wikipedia will show you it has existed in Asia, India, Indonesia, Africa, Arabia, and so on. This is basic information about human cultures and laws; it’s not just a Bible thing.

But in the law of Moses, God does provide rules for how and why to do it. Deuteronomy 25:5 says:

5“If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead man shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her as his wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. 6 And the first son whom she bears shall succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel.

That last part is the main thing to focus on: This provision is all about securing a possible future for a family line, in a situation where the hope of a future seems to have been cut off. Things look bleak for the head of a household who dies without an heir; he’s not just dead, but his entire heritage and family line will simply terminate with his own death. “His name will be blotted out of Israel.” His property will be dispersed, with nobody to inherit it, the family name will fade away or be reabsorbed; other family lines and names and heritages will overwhelm it.

So the goal of this provision in Deut 25 was “that his name may not be blotted out of Israel.” “Its purpose was to keep property in the family by raising up an heir to inherit it.” This law was a last-ditch effort to do whatever can be done within reason to rescue the future from the flux of history. It’s no guarantee: there’s no guarantee that a baby will be conceived, or survive to inherit the property and in turn pass on the name further. And the arrangement can’t be put off for years and years; the law provides for a chance, a kind of desperate last chance, almost a loophole for escaping doom, that may or may not work to rectify a bad situation. That’s the kind of law we’ve got here.

Now it has to be stated as a law to make sure the brother in law doesn’t see his brother’s death as a chance to inherit more property, or for the survivor to take the lead in the family line, but instead to serve his dead brother’s heritage and extend his line. The son born from this arrangement counts as the lineal heir of the deceased, through whom the name will live on and not be forgotten.

Okay, brothers-in-law do not always want to rescue their brother’s names in this way. They are busy full-time making a name for themselves, and prefer not to perpetuate the legacy of the dead. So the law in Deuteronomy 25 has a built-in curse for these brothers-in-law. There’s a provision where if the brother won’t do it, the widow is allowed to take him before the elders of the city, pull his sandal off his foot, and spit in his face in court. And here’s the kicker: from that day on, that brother in law’s house will be called, “The House of Him Who Had his Sandal Pulled Off.” You see the irony, right? If you refuse to make a name for your brother, your name will be turned into Mr. No-Sandals. Good job; you really made a name for yourself, loser.

Now: What are the Sadducees doing with this law? It’s hard to tell through their insincerity and mockery, but they seem to be treating it like something you can cling to as your great hope. Do you see that? The brother died, then the other brother died, then the other other brother died, then the other other other brother died, and so on. Look, the whole idea of running the scenario out times seven is the essence of carnality: it treats the rules of reproduction as a demand to have a child at any cost! Bring in the next brother! Why? Because without children, we have no hope, no life, no future.

There’s the trick, isn’t it? Remember that the Sadducees don’t believe in the resurrection. They have a theological system tightly limited to this life, this world, no resurrection. They’re mockers, but this is the part they’re dead serious about: if you don’t get kids, you don’t get a future and your name perishes.

Now if you believe that, and you also want to believe the Bible, or at least the books of Moses, you are going to have to twist the entire meaning of God’s promises:

God promised Abraham, I will be your God, I will give you a descendant, I promise to give you the land. If you’re a Sadducee, think about it, God’s promise to be your God only lasts for as long as you’re alive. Then they bury you, and it’s over. He used to be your God, but then you quit existing. So now what’s left? Children and land. A kind of objective immortality of your continuing effects; so you have to get results.

Do you see how this changes the very nature of God’s entire relationship with his people in the Old Testament? If the Sadducees are right, then the promise of offspring and property is the whole deal, the only permanent thing. It means that, from Abraham’s point of view, when God gave him Isaac and eventually the promised land, then God’s promises were completely fulfilled without remainder, and it was over. Check cashed. But is that really all God promised Abraham? A kid and land and a few decades of life several centuries ago? No: May it never be! God did promise all of that, and he did deliver it. But he also promised himself: I will be your God. Genesis 15:1,“I am your great reward.”

God’s promise to Abraham –you have to get this—was mainly spiritual. It was mainly about God. God gave Abraham not just a son and the land, but himself as his covenant God forever.

So here’s the part the Sadducees think is so funny: she married all seven, who’s married to who in the resurrection? Yuk yuk yuk, hardee har har. Jesus’ answer: that’s not how any of this works.

“The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36 for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”

This is mind-blowing and category-busting.

In the resurrection, who’s married to who? Jesus’ answer is that marriage is a thing of this world, not a thing of the resurrection world. Marriage is not a heavenly reality, or a resurrection reality. Why? Because the big plan for marriage is centered up on the big plan of having children; marriage, family, and reproduction is centrally about replacing the people who keep on dying by making more people. So, verse 36, since in the age to come, “they cannot die anymore,” all the people of the resurrection age are permanent people.

This is what it means to say they are “equal to angels.” Humans don’t turn into angels, and if anybody says that at a funeral, do not believe them. But just like angels don’t need to be replaced because angels don’t die, those who rise from the dead are equal to that angelic reality. Resurrection permanently solves the supply problem that marriage and offspring temporarily solve in this life. If there’s such a thing as resurrection, there’s such a thing as permanent people.

Now this is heady stuff, so here’s one quick application for the Sadducees, and two applications for us:

1. Application for the Sadducees: Stop being Sadducees. Read your Bible better. Repent and believe. There is a resurrection. You don’t have to cling to procreation for the only possible meaning of life, because God himself gives meaning to life now and forever. In the version of this same story found over in Matthew 22:29, Matthew reports one extra line that Jesus said when he turned the tables on the Sadducees. He told them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” So, um, two problems you’ve got there. That’s got to hurt. You know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. That’s their application, and if there are any Sadducees in the room, this applies to you.

But now the other two applications are for the rest of us:

Application 2. Don’t project this life forward into the eternal life. It doesn’t all transfer forward like that. Obviously, the problem scenario the Sadducees posed would in fact be a problem if the future age is exactly the same as the present age. But it isn’t. It won’t be. This teaching of Jesus includes the perhaps surprising truth that human marriage is not an eternal status. After the resurrection, these human relationships undergo some kind of change as great as the change that our bodies undergo. It’s different somehow. We don’t know all the rules yet, and we can’t understand them until we get there. But here’s a rule: you can’t just take this life and hit the “times infinity” button to get an accurate picture of the resurrection or heaven. Heaven isn’t just a quantitative expansion of here and now; it’s a qualitative change. It’s not just more of the same; it’s more of different, and better. I bet you have questions. Our own Alan Gomes wrote a good book covering 40 Questions About Heaven and Hell. That’s the name. Pick it up. Or go ask him.

Application 3. It follows from this that single people and childless couples are fully human and fully Christian, not partial or potential or incomplete human people. Do you see how that follows from the argument that in the resurrection, believers are neither married nor given in marriage? They are sons of the resurrection. This is in some ways a minor point in the passage, but it’s a major point in the experience of single people who can sometimes feel like second-class citizens in the kingdom of God. Again, it ideally shouldn’t be something we need to insist on, because I bet nobody is walking around here actually thinking “I do believe that single people are not fully human.” But a church culture that values strong, beautiful marriages, and organizes resources and attention around caring for children, can unintentionally and carelessly communicate to our single brothers and sisters that there is a kind of spiritual hierarchy in place. This passage in Luke has always functioned in the church as a sharp caution against that error. An obvious conclusion of this passage is that marriage plus offspring is not the meaning of life. That follows necessarily from understanding God and his power and his promises. If you fail to reckon with God, you will look around for other sources of meaning. Like marriage, posterity, art, culture, politics, etc. The list goes on. But just to pick out marriage: Some of us disciples of Jesus Christ are married now, till death do us part. But in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage. It’s tempting to say that someday we’ll all be single forever, but “single” would also be an illegitimate projection of our current understanding onto an unimaginable future state.

So those are three applications of the first point: Remember that Jesus had two points to make in response to the Sadducees:

Point 1. That’s not how any of this works.

Now Point 2. How dare you?

Jesus’ second point is, How Dare You. How dare you?

Verse 37: “But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38 Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.”

I’m going to read that again. Luke 20:37.

Verse 37: “But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38 Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.”

Here’s what’s going on. This pack of Bible-bros comes out with guns blazing, fit to fight, sure they’re right, proof-texts ready, with a podcast and a discernment blog and a nasty social media profile, and they’ve got their chart with Genesis 38 and Deuteronomy 25 all aligned with their tribe’s theological system, and they’re jibber-jabbering, high-fiving, getting ready to dunk on their opponents (“mess him up, Caleb!”)… and it’s just literally Ungodly.

We’re in the last few days of Jesus’ life here, and he’s absolutely serious about what matters most. When he came to Jerusalem, he famously drove out the salesmen from the temple, to restore its status as a house of prayer. (Luke 19 verse 46) Ever since then, he’s been cleaning theological house: teaching about the temple, authority, stewardship, money, and so on. He’ll keep it up for another chapter or two. Here with these cocky Bible experts, he’s got solid arguments to show them they’re reading Moses wrong. He’s not above the fight; he will get in it and win it, chapter and verse.

But. He does it in a way that redirects their attention away from a nasty little debating society skirmish and back toward the holiness of God. Remember in Matthew 22 he tells them, “you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” It’s not just oopsy-daisy you read a tricky verse wrong. That’s no harm no foul. You’re ignoring God. His word. His power. His kingdom and glory. His name.

Jesus, who taught us to pray to God the Father, “hallowed by your name,” takes it on himself right here in this tacky little fracas with these ill-mannered Sadducee bullies, to hallow the name of God.

III. The Burning Bush

How? He takes them directly to the burning bush, Exodus 3. Moses saw the fire, heard the voice, took off his sandals, and stood in the presence of the holy God. And what did God say? Moses recorded that the Lord called himself “the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.”

What if the name of God really mattered? Jesus teaches us here that it does. This is Old Testament Bible Study with Jesus, when he shows us that the name of God is the single most important thing.

Listen to Exodus 3, hear the word of the Lord:

… God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

God calls himself the God of Abraham. “I am the God of Abraham.” Did you even catch that? He doesn’t say, Remember that dead guy, Abraham? About 400 years ago? I used to be his God, but then he died. So then for a while I was the God of Isaac. But he died. So next I was the God of Jacob. But they keep dying. So whose God shall I be in the resurrection?

No, that’s not what God says about himself or about his people. He says, “I AM the God of Abraham.” The God of Abraham in Genesis, and still the God of Abraham here in Exodus 3, and still the God of Abraham over here in Luke 20 where Jesus explains what that means, and still the God of Abraham in 2023 where we’re learning from Jesus how to hallow the name of God.

According to Jesus, if God is the God of Abraham, then Abraham lived to him back in Genesis, still lives to him in Exodus, and still still lives to him in Jesus’ time and in our own time, and –here comes the jump– Abraham will rise again and live to him in the resurrection.

What’s Jesus say? “But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” And the underlying principle about God, the real theology, the doctrine of God and his name is in Luke 20:38 Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.”

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob: Not Dead. All live to him. We know they died and were buried; that is clearly recorded in Scripture, and Jesus has read it. But they all live to him. How? Because of God’s self-naming; what he calls himself. “God of Abraham” means something about God: he identifies himself with this man by solemn covenant. But it also means something about Abraham: he is permanent. Father Abraham is a son of the resurrection, he is a permanent person in the presence of God. The permanence of Abraham comes from God identifying himself with Abraham. Abraham will personally experience the fulfillment of God’s promise, even though it means that God will have to raise him from the dead for it to all come true. Check certainly to be cashed in our future. In the meantime… he lives to God, now.

Let me try to say this calmly, like a theology professor. Normally in the doctrine of eschatology (or final things, end times), we distinguish between where you go when you die, and what will happen when Christ returns. When a believer dies, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. So at death, the soul and body are separated; the body decays, and the soul is temporarily, without its own personal body, with Christ. Meanwhile, the world goes on, until someday, Christ returns and the dead are raised physically with a new kind of re-embodied life. When that happens, soul and body are united and transformed. It’s important to remember the difference: if you ignore the resurrection, you’re thinking unbiblically and you start to imagine that eternal life is some kind of permanently disembodied condition; heaven is clouds and ghost-bodies. That’s just not a Bible teaching. Don’t drop the resurrection. But if you hold to the resurrection and just ignore the intermediate state, Christians who die simply vanish into darkness and silence until someday they start to exist again in bodies. We should remember both: the intermediate state and the final resurrection. It’s a big thought, but we should think it.

But Jesus gets us there by giving us an even bigger thought: God. God is the God of the living, and They All Live To Him. This precious saying of Jesus that is only recorded in Luke. God and Abraham, God and Isaac, God and Jacob. Not one after another, but somehow all at once. He doesn’t set one aside and say, I used to be God of Abraham, then I was God of Isaac, now I’m God of Jacob. No. he says I AM the God of Abraham, I AM the God of Isaac, and I AM the God of Jacob. Right now, all at the same time. They all live to me.

In the details, we can say, first during his lifetime, then temporary disembodied state, then resurrection, then eternal state. But can you see how Jesus takes an even larger perspective as he repeats God’s words from Exodus: Since God’s name is God of Abraham, so Abraham is alive now and will rise again. As a theology professor, I might want to correct him and say, “well, Lord, I think what you’re trying to say is that Abraham first lived in the flesh, currently exists spiritually in a temporarily disembodied state, and you intend to raise him bodily from death in resurrection eventually. Do I have that Right?” But Jesus leaps right over these differences: They All Live To Him. Period. Details sold separately.

God is the God of Abraham. Is he the God of Fred? If so, then I’m permanent. He is not the God of the dead. I don’t feel permanent. I can feel myself winding down as the decades go by. But it’s not about me, it’s about God. It’s about taking him at his word when he says who he is: if he is the God of Abraham, and the God of the living, then Abraham both lives now and will rise again. Because of who God is. Is God the God of you? Is this your God? Has he called you and covenanted with you? That’s the crucial question. If so, he is permanently your God, and you are correspondingly permanent. Lift up your eyes. It’s a God question with ‘you’ implications.

Can we come back for a minute to single people? The unmarried? Thinking of them as not quite fully human is obviously an insult to them. I think we’re actually pretty well attuned to that…. If you accidentally say something like “all the members of our church, and the single people too” you catch yourself and you know better. But here’s the big point, the more important point, and also the point that it’s harder for us to get: demoting singles and childless couples is actually a result of failing to take God at his word about who he is. What I mean is, the order goes this way: If you misunderstand God, you will misunderstand people. It will always happen. Your anthropology can only be as good as your theology. Downgrade God, downgrade your neighbor. Lose the Father, lose your brothers and sisters. Godlessness produces inhumanity.

We’ve said that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; also of me. But we need to be explicit about one other thing: God is also the God of Jesus Christ. None of this actually works unless we see how the Scriptures testify of Jesus, beginning with Moses and all the prophets.

IV. God’s Right Hand

Fortunately, it’s right here in Luke. Look at Luke 20, verse 39.

39 Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” 40 For they no longer dared to ask him any question.

(I BET! No more questions. So he asks them a question: )

41 But he said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is David’s son? 42 For David himself says in the Book of Psalms,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,

“Sit at my right hand,

43     until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

44 David thus calls him Lord, so how is he his son?”

Friends, there is so much going on in this passage, and we don’t have time to explore it all. Psalm 110:1 is the OT passage most frequently quoted in the NT. By one count, it shows up 33 times! If you want to do an awesome Bible study on it, just look those up. I posted the most important ones at my blog, fredfredfred.com/blog . Today we have to skip over a lot of good stuff to get to the good stuff.

Jesus raises this question to point out that before people can understand that he is the Messiah, they are going to have to seriously upgrade their whole concept of what the Messiah is. So the fancy footwork in Jesus’ quotation, and the interpretive question he uses to draw them in, is how David’s Son can also be David’s Lord. How can he receive his name from David but be so much greater than David? It’s a good question. But we have to skip over it for now to get to the actual oracle spoken by God. Remember, Jesus has trained us to listen closely to what God says.

And here God says, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”

The key question is, WHEN did God say this to the messiah?

Answer: God the Father said this to Jesus Christ at Jesus’ own resurrection. [say more here, freely] The resurrection and exaltation of Jesus Christ is where God displayed

the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Eph 1)

This is exactly how God takes us to himself and is our God permanently: Step 1 is that he does it all in Christ, and step 2 is he includes us in Christ. The whole life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is a thing that happens outside of us, in him: he is born, lives a perfect live of fellowship with and obedience to his Father, hallowing the name of God and seeking his kingdom. He dies for the sins of the world, and that sin is dealt with decisively in him, buried with him. Then, on the third day, he rises from the dead never to die again. And God says to him, Sit At My Right Hand. All of that happens In Christ. In these chapters of Luke, Jesus is doing all of that in real time, and God is carrying out our salvation in him. Then, step two: when you hear the good news and believe, you are in Christ. “By God’s doing you are in Christ, who became for us righteousness and wisdom and sanctification,” and every spiritual blessing. So as Ephesians goes on to say, you are made alive together with him, raised up with him, seated with him in the heavenly places. By Grace you are saved through faith.

And this was always the plan for how God would effectively make himself permanently the God of permanent people: by putting the power of eternal life into his incarnate Son the savior, and connecting us to him. So it’s because God is the God of Jesus Christ that he is the God of Abraham, even though Abraham lived before the birth of Jesus. God overleaps all those boundaries, and saved everybody he saves by including them in Christ. Our resurrection echoes his; his is the standard of God’s power, the glory of God’s name, and the guarantee that we live to God.

God is the God of Abraham because he is the God of Jesus Christ. And that is also how and why he is our God.

Father: give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in knowing you. Illuminate the eyes of our hearts, and let us see the greatness of your power that you worked in Christ when you raised him from the dead and seated him at your right hand. Covenant God, God of Jesus Christ, God of Abraham, be our God. Be the God of Grace. Be our God now and forever, and hallowed be your name.

About This Blog

Fred Sanders is a theologian who tried to specialize in the doctrine of the Trinity, but found that everything in Christian life and thought is connected to the triune God.

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