Sermon for Wed 3 June
Mark 12: 24 Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.
In this interaction Jesus is rebuking the Sadducees because the live by the letter of the [Jewish] law, whereas the Law, in its entirety, is meant to be lived according to the spirit of the law – in other words, to keep the law completely, you need to love as God expects us to love. When we love God with everything we are and have, and when we love our neighbour (and the world) as we love ourselves, what will it matter how many times a widow re-marries – as long as she is cared for, and as long as the orphans and homeless and sick are cared for and NOT marginalised – as the letter of the law requires.
Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘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. You are badly mistaken!”
In this interaction Jesus tries to correct the thinking of the Sadducees – they did not (do not) believe in the resurrection of the dead, not in the life here-after. So their initial question about to whom the widow is married after she has been married to 7 brothers was in order to bait Jesus into arguing about the resurrection. Notice Jesus’ answer, an answer that gives me much comfort and peace. He says that he (and the Father) is not the God of the dead, but that he is the God of the living. He cites God speaking to Moses at the burning bush, where God says I am the God of Abraham etc. God does not say I was the God, he speaks in the present tense – so, my understanding is that when we leave this earthly realm (when we die) we really start life with Christ in the spiritual realm.
How does this apply to us today? Paul writes to Timothy : 2 tim 1 : 3 I am reminded of your sincere faith. This faith that carries Timothy and leads Paul to continue, saying
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord
This “gift of God” is the Holy Spirit. As Timothy was encouraged to fan into flame the gift, so are we. What does this mean? We have received the Spirit, we should frequently request to be re-filled with, and revived by the Spirit. When this happens, then we should eagerly seek God’s will, and seek to love as God expects, and to share the hope that we have in him. This seeking is not the same as looking for something or searching for something that might be lost or out of reach. The seeking is a pursuing of, a wanting more of, the Spirit whom we have already received. SO, if we fan into flame the gift, we are asking God to fill us to overflowing so that those we interact with will know God working through us. In John 7 Jesus puts it this way – streams of living water (the Holy Spirit – the gift of God) will flow from within us. If the world, if people, do not recognise Christ in us, or experience him working through us, then we need to EAGERLY FAN INTO FLAME the gift – ask God for more of the Spirit, and then ask for even more. God can, and will, do abundantly more than we can ask or imagine. God will fill us to the fullness of His measure, don’t quench the Spirit, don’t limit the Spirit –simply ask God for the gift of His Spirit – often. Let us pray!