How Belief in the Next World Changes Life in This One - Radical

How Belief in the Next World Changes Life in This One

How should belief in heaven to come affect the way you live on earth this week? In this message on Mark 12:18–27, Pastor David Platt asks us to reflect upon this poignant question. He reminds us that God will make all things new at the end of time. The earthly pleasures we enjoy for a time are mere shadows of heavenly pleasures we’ll enjoy forever. As Christians, we can rejoice in suffering because the indescribable sorrow in this world will one day turn into inexpressible joy.

If you have a Bible—and I hope you or somebody around you does that you can look on with— please open it to Mark 12. As you’re turning, I want to welcome you here and those of you physically unable to be with us who are joining online. It’s good to be together around God’s Word.

Today is Mother’s Day, so I put on my Sunday best today. I feel like I’m choking as I speak. I’m convinced ties are a product of the Fall. I don’t think they will be in the new heaven and the new earth. But they’re here now and I want to honor my mom and other moms, including both physical and spiritual mothers and grandmothers all across this gathering.

We were just praying—and I was in tears when I was listening to us pray—knowing this day carries all kinds of emotions, even in my own life and family. I am deeply grateful and overwhelmed when I think about God’s grace in my mom, who I talked to earlier this morning. There’s no question I would not be who I am without my mom’s selfless and sincerely Christlike love for me. 

At the same time, I’m saddened when I think about Heather’s mom, who died suddenly years ago. And at the same time, I’m grateful for my wife, who is the valiant mother of our six kids. I won’t, but I could spend the entire sermon telling you what a great mom she is. 

I also remember when we walked through years of infertility before our first adopted; during those years, there were Mother’s Days when we did not want to be in church because of the reminder of what we longed for but what God was not providing—at least according to our plans and our timeline. I know some in our church family are walking that road right now.

While I am thankful for adoption in so many ways, I was also thanking God this morning for our children’s birth moms, including one whom we know. But for some of our kids, and for some of you, there’s a void in not knowing much if anything about their birth mothers, or maybe not having an ongoing relationship with them. 

All these are emotions that I’ve personally experienced. I’ve not even mentioned mothers who’ve lost children, especially over the last year, or single moms who are doing so much on your own, or single sisters in our church family who may desire marriage or motherhood, but God has not—or at least not yet—fulfilled those desires. I also think of some whose relationship with your mom is strained, for any number of reasons. 

All this to say, there are a variety of emotions we bring into this day, which leads to one of the many things I love about our God and why I’m so glad you’re with the church on this Mother’s Day, regardless of what emotions you’re carrying because God invites you to bring all of those emotions to him. We read in the Psalm 55:22 this last week, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you.” You are not intended to carry your emotions on your own and keep them to yourself. Cast them, bring them to God in worship. Where there is gratitude in your heart, give thanks to God. Where there is hurt in your heart, ask for healing from God. Cast all your thoughts, emotions, questions, longings on the Lord and he will personally hold you up. He’s about to do that right now for all of us through his Word.

Now I need to confess that when I first realized this next step in our journey through the book of Mark landed on Mother’s Day, I got a little concerned. We’ll read it in a moment, but let me just give you an overview. This is a conversation between a group of people and Jesus about a woman who sees seven of her husbands die,  then she dies. I read that and thought, “Okay, how is this going to encourage mothers—or any of us, for that matter—on Mother’s Day?” But the more I got into this text, the more I realized this is an awesome word on any day, including Mother’s Day. So let me show it to you. Let’s hear what God is saying to us right now. 

Remember the context. Here’s the setup. It’s Tuesday and a variety of groups are working together to trap, accuse and arrest Jesus, which they’ll eventually succeed in doing by Thursday. Then by Friday, Jesus will be dead. Now on this Tuesday, after the chief priests, scribes and elders question Jesus’ authority, which we looked at a couple weeks ago, after then the Pharisees and Herodians tried to trap Jesus in a political question, which we looked at last week, now a group called the Sadducees come down. So a quick background on this group. 

The Sadducees were opposite the Pharisees in the Sanhedrin, which is basically the Jewish ruling council. They were on the other side of the aisle and actually were opposed to much of the Pharisees’ teaching. The Sadducees believed that the most authoritative teaching from God was found in the first five books of the Old Testament—the Law—from Genesis to Deuteronomy. They didn’t attribute much authority to any other teachings after that, especially all the things the Pharisees taught. *

Specifically, the Sadducees didn’t believe in things like angels or demons; and important for our text today, they didn’t believe in life after death. They just believed that after you die, that’s the end of the story. There’s no resurrection of the body, no world to come. In all this, they were a pretty wealthy group, a high-class group, with a lot of control over temple operations, which is why they were definitely not happy when Jesus started overturning tables in the temple on Monday. 

So let’s pick up on Tuesday, Mark 12:18. The Bible says:

18 And Sadducees came to [Jesus], who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, 19 “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.

Let me give a little background here. They are referencing the Law, specifically Deuteronomy 25:5-6. The Sadducees believed God had set up a process to provide for widows. Let’s look at these verses: 

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. 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. 

We’re not going to dive into this whole passage today, but to summarize what’s happening here, God is making a way for a family line and a name to carry on in the event of a husband’s untimely death. So the Sadducees knew and believed in this Law. But remember, they didn’t believe in resurrection after death. They thought that idea was preposterous and they didn’t see it taught in the Law, the first five books of the Old Testament. So they make up a scenario in their conversation with Jesus, trying to illustrate how preposterous the idea of resurrection is. 

Now let’s go back to Mark 12, beginning in verse 20: 

20 There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. 21 And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. 22 And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. 23 In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”

You can picture the Sadducees almost laughing as they pose the question. “Do you believe in resurrection after this life? Well, does that mean this woman is going to have seven husbands forever, when marriage is supposed to be between one husband and one wife? This life after death thing is going to be a mess, isn’t it, Jesus? Do you really believe this?” In their attempt to ridicule Jesus and the idea of resurrection, Jesus responds in verse 24: “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?”

This is quite an indictment for religious leaders: “If I were to summarize how you’re wrong, I’d sum it up this way: you don’t know the Word of God or the power of God. Besides that, you’re doing all right.” I love it. There’s a whole sermon right there. Is it possible for you to know God’s Word, but not know God’s power? You know what his Word says, you’ve read it, you’ve heard it and even believe it. But you’ve not let its power soak into your life, into your family, into the way you live every day. Maybe yours is a head knowledge, but not a heart knowledge. 

Or do you have all this desire to experience God working in his power, but you’re not actually spending time studying, meditating on, memorizing and knowing God’s Word. Or maybe you’re missing both, like the Sadducees. You’re not studying, meditating on and memorizing God’s Word. You don’t believe in the power of God in your life and family. You don’t believe the effect of his Word and his power in everyday life. 

God, right now in his Word, is inviting you, right where you are sitting, to know his Word and experience his power in your life. For all of us, God is speaking this to us. He wants you to know his Word and his power in your life, in your family, all week long. 

Now, back to the passage. Don’t miss the connection with the Sadducees here. Their lack of belief in the resurrection—in life after death—was evidence they didn’t know the Word of God or the power of God. So in response to this hypothetical scenario of a woman who loses seven husbands, Jesus says this in verse 25:

25 “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”

I love that phrase, “You are quite wrong.” It literally means, “You are way off base!” And here’s how they were off base. Here’s how they didn’t know the Word of God or the power of God. When it comes to the Word of God, Jesus quotes God’s Word to Moses, through a burning bush in Exodus 3. This, by the way, was in the Law, the part of God’s Word these guys did believe. 

Jesus says, “In the law, God said to Moses, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’” Now Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at that point were dead, yet God still says, “I am their God,” which would make no sense if Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had ceased to exist—if there was no life after death. If there’s no resurrection, that means Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were just decomposed corpses, turned to dust by that point. It would make no sense for God to say, “I am their God,” especially when God had promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob an everlasting covenant, a relationship with them that would never end. But God is not God of the dead; he is God of the living, which means Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are alive and God is still their God. Just like he promised to be, his covenant relationship with them was very much alive. 

Jesus says, “You believe the Law, the first five books of the Old Testament? You don’t even realize that the Law teaches that all who trust in God will experience eternal life with God.” Then Jesus says, “Here’s how you don’t know the power of God. Your mind is so small, your view of God is so limited, you have no idea what God has in store after death for all who trust in him. When people who trust in God die, they are going to experience life they’ve never seen or imagined before; by the power of God we’ll be like angels in heaven.” 

Now, at this point we need to pause and soak this one in. First, there could be a lot of misconceptions here. Jesus did not just say that when we die we become angels in heaven, with wings or whatever else angels have. No, the Bible does not teach that people who trust in Jesus become angels when they die; that’s not what Jesus is saying here. Jesus said that in heaven, we as humans—made in the image of God in a way that’s different from angels, with human bodies that will rise from the dead—we will be “like angels.” In what sense? In the sense that they and we will neither marry nor be given in marriage. 

This then leads to the second reason we need to pause and soak this one in, because Jesus did say right here that we will not be married in heaven. For anyone who is happily married here, that might sound like bad news. I’ve even heard people say, “Well, if there’s no marriage in heaven, then I don’t want to go.” 

I want to show you that this is a very foolish thing to say, and I want to show you that it’s  actually really good news that there will not be marriage in heaven. Now I say this as an extremely happily married man. Don’t miss what Jesus is teaching about life after death for all who trust in him. Remember, that’s the main point of contention here with the Sadducees—the issue of resurrection—and this hypothetical marriage scenario is related to that. 

Earthly pleasures we enjoy for a time are mere shadows of heavenly pleasures we’ll enjoy forever.

Here’s what Jesus is teaching about resurrection in heaven. This applies to many things, but let’s think about marriage in light of the illustration in this passage. Marriage is designed by God to be an earthly pleasure—to be close to and committed to one person, for that person to be close to and committed to you, to share love with someone else at a deeper, truer, more beautiful level than any other relationship in this world. All of that equals earthy pleasure, designed by God. Yet at the same time, marriage is designed by God to be a picture, right? It is very clear in the Bible—in Ephesians 5:31-32— that marriage is designed by God to be a picture of the church as the bride of Christ. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” That’s marriage. “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” 

Husbands are supposed to love their wives in a way that pictures Christ’s love for the church. And wives are supposed to love their husbands in a way that pictures the church’s love for Christ. This means marriage is designed by God to point to a much greater reality. Marriage is a shadow of a real thing, and the real thing is the relationship between Jesus and his church as his bride. This is why heaven is described as a wedding feast. Look at Revelation 19:6-9:

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,


For the Lord our God

      the Almighty reigns.

Let us rejoice and exult

    and give him the glory,

for the marriage of the Lamb has come,

      and his Bride has made herself ready;

it was granted her to clothe herself

     with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

Do you see this? We won’t need the picture of marriage between a man and a woman in heaven to point us to Jesus as the one who loves us like a bride because we’re going to have the real thing. We’re going to be with Jesus as his bride.

We’ve talked about this before but let’s make sure we’re clear on this imagery because I know it may feel odd for men to think, “Yeah, I’m going to be a bride one day.” Picture what that means. To be a bride is to be united forever with someone who loves you, who treasures you, who takes responsibility for providing everything you need. Jesus will be that for us forever. If you have a hard time with needing to be provided for by Jesus, then that is actually a problem with your pride. The beauty of heaven is that we will be with Jesus, so if that doesn’t excite you, then you probably have the wrong idea of heaven and you may not actually be in relationship with Jesus, because the whole point of heaven is we’re going to be with him.

Side note here. A lot of people, even Christians, when thinking about heaven, just think about all the stuff we’ll have and things we’ll enjoy, more than we ever have before. But they miss the whole point of heaven. Heaven is not a place where we’ll have all the finest things of this world. Heaven is a place where the finest things of this world will not compare with the fact that we are with Jesus. 

If you love and want your husband or your wife more than you love or want Jesus, then you have made an idol out of your husband or your wife. For that matter, if you love or want anything or anyone in this world more than you love or want Jesus, then you have made an idol out of that thing or that person. If you want gifts more than you want the giver, that’s idolatry. 

The whole point of heaven is that we’re going to be with the giver, with God. We’re going to have the real thing, Jesus. We’re going to have a perfect relationship with him and perfect enjoyment of him. He is infinitely better than any husband, wife, marriage, anything or anyone in this world put together. 

Jonathan Edwards put it best:

God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of him is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows, but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams, but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean. 

Earthly pleasures we enjoy for a time are mere shadows of heavenly pleasures we’ll enjoy forever. In other words, there’s so much more waiting for us there in our relationship with God than we experience here, t There so much more flowing from him and our relationships with others. So this doesn’t mean we won’t enjoy all kinds of other people from our lives here and from across all history. 

So yes, for those whom God calls to marry in this world, which is obviously not everyone, that marriage relationship is designed by God to be closer than any other relationship in this world. At the same time, every marriage here on earth is still a relationship between two sinful people. Many have experienced this in a marriage that has been broken or no longer exists. 

As much as I love my marriage, it’s obviously not perfect because I still have sin in me that affects my wife. She still has sin in her that affects my life. So just imagine that relationship in heaven, where there is no sin anymore. Then imagine, not just having that kind of sinless love for one other person and receiving sinless love from one other person, imagine experiencing sinless perfect love for and from every other person around you—including your wife or husband. 

As you’ll look back at all that by God’s grace you shared together on earth, you’ll enjoy one another like you’ve never experienced in this world. You’ll also be experiencing a closeness with every other person who is in Christ, that even in marriage on earth you weren’t able to experience. Literally, it will be one big perfectly happy family. Is anybody else looking forward to the day when there will be no more family drama? Just family joy, perfect joy, with our heavenly Father. 

This is what Jesus is pointing us to, but the Sadducees were missing it. They couldn’t imagine it. Some of you might be thinking, “That just sounds like a fairy tale.” No, this is what the power of God is able to bring about. Don’t doubt the Word of God or the power of God. 

I should add one other side note here, because I know some of you are thinking—and I’m speaking generally in light of the young ages in our gathering—that about that thing married couples do? Is Jesus saying that won’t be in heaven either? Well, think about it. That thing that married couples do leads to children being born and that won’t be happening in heaven. Still some think, “Yeah, but it’s also a pleasure.” Yes it is. But it’s not an essential pleasure for individual human flourishing. If it was, then singles—including Jesus himself—would not be able to flourish. 

This is the point. When you think about pleasures in this world, don’t let your mind be small like the Sadducees. God is saying in his Word, “Trust me. I’m the author of all pleasure. I have provided pleasures for you on this earth, but they are only a shadow of what is to come.” God is saying, “You think that is a pleasure? Just wait until you’re in a new heaven and a new earth—with no trace of sin, sorrow or suffering—with just pure, absolute enjoyment of me, each other and creation.”

Don’t worry that heaven is going to be boring. We’re not just going to sit around on clouds and stare at light for a quadrillion years. That is not how God describes heaven. He’s the author of all good gifts and it’s an eternity of enjoying God and his good gifts that flow from him. We’re going to be in his presence, enjoying him forever.

Isn’t this ‘forever’ piece awesome? Even the greatest pleasures in this world, even the greatest marriage in this world for example, last only for a time. But there, pleasures will last for all time. J.I. Packer wrote, “Hearts on earth may say, in the course of a joyful experience, ‘I don’t want this ever to end.’ But invariably it does. The hearts of those in heaven say, ‘I want this to go on forever,’ and it will.” This is such good news. There is no better news than this. Earthly pleasures are mere shadows pointing us to greater pleasure to come. 

Thinking about shadows makes me think of C.S. Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia. This is a longer quote, but I think it’s worth it. So here’s a little story time. Listen to how Lewis describes Narnia in a conversation between Lucy, Edmund and Peter. It’s from The Last Battle. I just say up front that I wish I could do the voices better, but I’m not going to even try. So try to follow along with me. 

“Those hills,” said Lucy, “the nice woody ones and the blue ones behind—aren’t they very like the southern border of Narnia?” 

“Like?” cried Edmund after a moment’s silence. “Why they’re exactly like. Look, there’s Mount Pire with his forked head, and there’s the pass into Archenland and everything!” 

“And yet they’re not like,” said Lucy. “They’re different. They have more colors on them, and they look further away than I remembered and they’re more, more… I don’t know.” 

“More like the real thing,” said the Lord Digory softly. 

Suddenly Farsight the Eagle spread his wings, soared thirty or forty feet up into the air, circled around and then alighted on the ground. “Kings and Queens,” he cried, “we have all been blind. We are only beginning to see where we are. From up there I have seen it all — Ettinsmur, Beaversdam, the Great River, and Cair Paravel still shining on the edge of the Eastern Sea. Narnia is not dead. This is Narnia.”

“But how can it be?” said Peter. “For Aslan told us older ones that we should never return to Narnia, and here we are.”

“Yes,” said Eustace. “And we saw it all destroyed and the sun put out.”

“And it’s all so different,” said Lucy.

“The Eagle is right,” said the Lord Digory. “Listen, Peter. When Aslan said you could never go back into Narnia, he meant the Narnia you were thinking of. But that was not the real Narnia. That had a beginning and an end. It was only a shadow or a copy of the real Narnia which has always been here and always will be here, just as our own world, England and all, is only a shadow or copy of something in Aslan’s real world. You need not mourn over Narnia, Lucy. All of the old Narnia that mattered, all the dear creatures, have been drawn into the real Narnia through the Door. And of course it is different; as different as a real thing is from a shadow or as waking life is from a dream.

“The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country. Every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more. I can’t describe it any better than that. If you ever get there, you will know what I mean.” 

It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right forehoof on the ground and neighed, and then cried, “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this.”

Do you realize this? One day, for all who trust in Jesus, we will come home at last to our real country, the country where we belong, the land we’ve been looking for all our lives. We realize the things you and I love most about this world, the earthly pleasures we experience for a time here, will indeed have been just a shadow, a foretaste, of heavenly pleasures we will enjoy forever. 

This leads to one other word God is speaking to us in this text. Really it’s another way of saying what we’ve already seen, but I think it’s particularly important in light of the context for this passage in Mark. Did you notice how crass and unfeeling the Sadducees come across? They tell a story about a woman losing seven husbands, trying to make a theological point, while bypassing all the hurt, pain and heartache that would be involved in that kind of situation. 

I’m particularly sensitive to this, because as I was studying this text this week, I heard about an elder in the church I used to pastor in Birmingham, Alabama, the Church at Brook Hills. Jared Kime who died suddenly on Tuesday night, even though by all accounts he was healthy and active. It seems to have been just a sudden cardiac arrest, so in an instant, he was gone, leaving his wife Jessica and their four young kids behind. 

Then I started to think of other similar stories in our church family. Quoting C.S. Lewis makes me think of Lee Vaughn. As Lee and Ellen, their kids and grandkids read The Chronicles of Narnia with great voices to each other, Lee prepared for his homegoing this last year. 

So let’s hear this word from God in this text as well.

Indescribable sorrow in this world will one day turn into inexpressible joy in the world to come.

Sorrow will turn to joy. Think about Psalm 56. God sees your sorrow here. He counts the tossings in your bed. He holds your tears in a bottle. God guarantees you that one day your mourning will turn to dancing. Your sorrow will turn to joy. 

Please hear what I’m about to say. This will be true for all who trust in Jesus. He’s the one who makes all this possible, and all that we’re seeing today is only for those who trust in Jesus. The problem in this world is sin; not just sin in the world generally, but sin in our lives specifically. We have all sinned against God, and as a result of our sin, we will die. We all deserve eternal judgment away from God.

But the good news of the Bible is that God loves us and has made a way for us to be forgiven of our sin and restored to relationship with him. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” For all who trust in Jesus, who died on a cross for our sin and rose from the dead, you know him as God of the living, not of the dead. You will have eternal life with him.

You can walk into this week with confidence that even if something suddenly happens to you, Jesus has taken the worst thing that could happen and has turned it into the best thing that could happen to you. To live is Christ, to die will be gain (Philippians 1:21). There is resurrection. There is a real life after death, and everything hinges on whether or not you trust in Jesus. I invite you, put your trust in Jesus today. 

For all who have, look to Jesus today as the giver of every good gift, especially on this Mother’s Day. For all who feel gratitude on this day, give thanks and praise to the God who is the author of it all, who is the giver of your mom, your physical or spiritual mother, your children. As you think of the many good gifts God has given you through your mom, or as a mom, or in moms around you, realize that all those good gifts are just shadows of so much more to come. 

For all who have hurts, heartaches, unmet expectations and unfulfilled longings on this day, honestly express those to God and trust in his power to sustain you. And not just sustain you, but to satisfy you with himself, now and forever. 

Belief in heaven should affect the way we live on earth this week.

So I want to lead us to reflect and pray, in light of this closing question. In light of all that God has spoken to us through his word, how should belief in the world to come change the way you live in this world this week? Let’s spend some time thinking and praying through this question. How should belief in the world to come change the way you are thinking and feeling right now, the way you’re living right now? 

God, as we’re pausing for the next few moments, show us how belief in the world to come changes our thoughts, desires, perspectives and our entire way of life right now. 

As you continue to pray and reflect, with your heads bowed, I want to ask that question of you. I pray that God would draw people in this room to faith in Jesus, maybe for the first time, or maybe to come back to him for the first time in a long time. If that’s you, if you need to begin a relationship with Jesus now, to put your trust in him as Lord and Savior of your life, or to return to him, just pray this in your heart: 

God, I want to be restored to relationship with you as the fountain of all that is good, as the author and giver of every good gift. I confess my sin against you. I believe Jesus died on a cross for my sin, rose from the grave in victory for me, so that through my trust in you now, I can be forgiven of my sin and restored to relationship with you. I want that. 

When you pray that before God, he does that. He forgives your sin and restores you to relationship with him—not because of your works, but because of his love for you. I urge you to put your trust in Jesus this way. Just like Jared this last week, you’re not guaranteed to make it to next Sunday, or tomorrow for that matter. Put your trust in Jesus today. Respond to God’s Spirit speaking to you right now. 

Flowing from that, I want to lead us to pray in two different directions specifically, and to pray for each other in these ways. In just a moment, I’m going to ask moms all around this room to stand, and I want to lead us to pray for you specifically, in light of what we’ve just seen in God’s Word. So if you are a mom in this room, would you stand up where you are? Moms of all ages. As you stand, I want to say to you on behalf of this whole church family, “We honor you. We love you. We praise God for his grace in you. “

And I’ll say what I said to my wife, “I have no idea how you do what you do. No clue how you do all that you do. But we praise God for his grace in you, that flows from that. Especially on days when you don’t feel like you’re doing it well, we are so thankful for his grace toward you in that moment and through you in those moments. We love you. We praise God for you and we want to pray for you.”

I want everybody else to stand up now. Let’s make sure we’ve got a hand on every shoulder of every mom in this room. I’m going to lift a prayer before God and you can pray out loud if you want  or you can just amen to what I’m praying. Let’s intercede right now for these moms.

God, we praise you for every single one of these women. We praise you for your grace in every single one of these moms, for the gift that they are, the picture of your love that they are. We praise you that you have given them children through the miracle of birth who are fearfully and wonderfully made in your image. God, we pray that they would know they are fearfully and wonderfully made in your image, that they are deeply loved and honored by you, O God.

We pray that they would know the height, width, depth and breadth of your love for them in Jesus, that they would know that in Jesus they are clothed in righteousness. You have created them, blessed them and promised to give them everything they need for this high calling you’ve entrusted to them. We pray for all they need. We pray for Your strength in their weakness. Uphold them with your righteous right hand. May they wake up every morning and know that you are there to uphold them. 

God, would you be their peace? Guard them from being anxious about anything. Keep them, deliver them, free them from worry about anything, In everything, through prayer and petition, let them present their requests to you with thanksgiving. We pray that your peace, which transcends and passes all understanding, would guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 

We pray for their wisdom, amidst all the different things that are in their lives, things they’re juggling, things they’re working through daily. Give them wisdom, we pray. Help them know and see what you see, to live for what matters most. Give them everything they need. You’re our Father in heaven. You show us how to love children. We pray you would fill them with your Spirit and empower them in supernatural ways for the task you’ve called them to.

And God, on the moments or days when they feel like they’re falling or failing, we pray that you would be the lifter of their heads, that they would walk with honor before you, trusting in your grace. Bless their lives for the spread of your goodness and grace, in their children, their children’s children, and in multitudes of spiritual children. God, we pray Psalm 67 over them. Be gracious to them. Bless them. Cause your face to shine upon them, that through them your ways may be known on the earth and your saving power known among the nations. In Jesus’ name we pray. And all God’s people said, “Amen.”

Observation: What does the passage say?

1) Read Mark 12:18-27 aloud as a group. Let group members share observations. Try not to move into interpretation of the passage or application of what you read quite yet. Simply share what you observe.

  • Who are the Sadducees and from which part of the Bible do they quote Scripture (vv. 18-19)?
  • As you review the Sadducees’ hypothetical scenario in verses 20-22, what is significant about their question in verse 23? What point are they trying to make?
  • How does Jesus respond to the Sadducees and what are the main points of his response to them (vv. 25-26)?
  • How would you summarize Mark 12:18-27 in your own words?

Interpretation: What does the passage mean?

1) Read Deuteronomy 25:5–6. Why did God set up this structure in the law for Israel?

2) The Sadducees were trying to prove a theological point. How does their question in Mark 12:23 display their misunderstanding of Scripture and God’s power?

3) Read Exodus 3:4–6 and Revelation 19:6–9. How does Exodus 3:6 demonstrate that we serve a Living God and that resurrected believers live? What does the Revelation passage illustrate about believers’ future lives in heaven? Note particularly how Old and New Testament Scriptures combine to show the continuous line of God’s plan for His people.

4) Consider how the Sadducees’ focus only on the first five books of the law might stunt their full understanding of Scripture and lead to religious error. Read Ephesians 5:31–32. How does the Church and earthly marriage relate to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 6:19)? How does the full counsel of Scripture demonstrate that God’s design is greater and broader than man’s design for marriage? For living? For serving?

Application: How can we apply this passage to our lives?

1) Earthly pleasures pail in comparison to heavenly pleasures. 

  • What Old and New Testament passages illustrate the greatness of heavenly blessings to come?
  • How does making Jesus the object of your desire impact your earthly life? 
  • How does your life show that you love Jesus more than anyone or anything? 
  • How can your relationships with one another (marriage, family, friendships, work) benefit from your focus on Jesus?

2) Today’s earthly, indescribable sorrow will become heavenly, inexpressible joy.

  • What Old and New Testament passages illustrate the great joy to come in heaven?
  • When you sin, how does it impact your joy? What will it be like to have joy in heaven unfettered by sin?
  • When you experience sorrow, how does focus on heaven’s coming joy help you?
  • When others know you’re in a challenging situation, do they witness earthly sorrow or heavenly joy? How can you move from sorrow to joy?

3) Break into huddles (small groups of three to four people) to consider how belief in heaven should affect the way we live on earth this week.

  • Where is scriptural misunderstanding impacting your Christian walk?
  • What must you do this week to recognize God’s power and see Scripture more clearly?
  • How does your conception of Jesus and heaven impact the way you live your life?
  • How can you live your earthly life this week in God’s power, through God’s heavenly eyes?

Mark 12:18-27 ESV

18 And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, 19 “Teacher, Moses wrote for  us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 20  There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. 21 And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring.  And the third likewise. 22 And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. 23 In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose  wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.” 

24 Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they  rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 And as for the dead being raised, have you  not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac,  and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”

The hope we have of being with God in heaven should impact how we live today:

  • Earthly pleasures we enjoy for a time are mere shadows of heavenly pleasures we’ll enjoy forever.
  • Indescribable sorrow in this world will one day turn into inexpressible joy in the world to come.
  • Belief in heaven should affect the way we live on earth this week.
David Platt

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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