Tuesday, February 25, 2014

HAPPY, YOU SEE (Mark Chapter 12)

The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection (Mark 12:18).  That was why they were “sad, you see.”  Sorry, I know, you’ve probably heard that one before.  But it is the truth.  It is a sad religion indeed that offers no heavenly hope.

The Sadducees were made up of aristocrats.  They held power in the Sanhedrin.  Their wealth and power contributed to their primary concern to keep their nation peaceable and thereby avoid trouble with the Romans.  They denied the resurrection.  D. A. Hagner commented on this: “It is immediately obvious how this denial intensified an already this-worldly perspective which the Sadducees had by virtue of their position.  If a  man must be content with the present life alone, he is bound to capitalize on any present advantages he may enjoy.  And this appears, in fact, to have been the practical philosophy of the Sadducees.  It may be added that the Messianic hope played no role in the Sadducean perspective.”

Much of what is peddled as Christianity today is of the same nature.  There is a lot of “earth-bound” preaching and teaching that goes on.  Religious liberalism focuses on improving society.  The health, wealth, and prosperity gospel is concerned with how to improve one’s lot in this life.  Self-help messages speak about “how to be a better you.”  The Reconstructionist movement emphasizes the need to work to restore our country.  Much religious effort is expended, in the name of Christianity, in a “this-worldly” in focus.  While many in these movements would not deny a future resurrection, they show little concern for it.  While the visible church concerns itself with earthly affairs, the gospel is set aside, dust-covered and irrelevant.  The gospel is a heaven-sent message that speaks of a heaven-sent Savior who saves sinners from hell to heaven.  There is no question that Jesus works to improve the earthly estate of the born-again, but the ultimate focus of His saving work is heavenward.

It was earthly concerns that contributed to the Sadducean antagonism towards the Lord Jesus.  He was a threat.  So they asked Him a question.  An unlikely scenario was suggested.  A wife had seven consecutive husbands.  Whose wife then, in the resurrection, would she be? (Mark 12:23).  Jesus answer: “You do not understand the Scriptures, or the power of God…For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Mark 12:25).  The Scriptures declare the resurrection.  God’s power is demonstrated in the resurrection.  We are raised to a radically transformed environment.

The believer in Christ is to be a heavenly minded person.  The church in Corinth was confronted with false teachers who likewise denied the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:15-19).  But Paul affirmed both the truth and importance of it.  Christ has been raised!  We, as believers, shall be too (1 Corinthians 15:20-22).  False teachers “set their minds on earthly things,” but “our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:2-21).

Happy indeed is the believer in Christ who has his sights set on “the blessed hope” (Titus 2:13)!  No journey will meet with a finer end, than the heavenly one (2 Timothy 4:18).  No home will be better furnished, than the one that God has prepared (2 Corinthians 5:1).  No sight will be more glorious (1 John 3:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:10), no reunion more joyous (2 Thessalonians 4:17), no occupation more rewarding (Revelation 5:13-14)—than that which we will experience in His presence.  Happy, you see, is the believer who has his mind set on such things!

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