Daily Readings & Thought for July 21st. “… LIKE ANGELS IN HEAVEN”
One of the most profound things Jesus said is in today’s ch. 22 in Matthew’s gospel. Jesus is first challenged by the Pharisees [v.15] who “plotted how to entangle him in his talk” by asking whether it was “lawful to pay taxes to Caesar.” His response is memorable! At his request they brought to him a coin and he pointed to the “likeness” of Caesar on it saying “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” adding “and to God the things that are God’s. And what are we to render to God – if we believe we belong to him? If we believe otherwise, this life is all we have – and how short is that likely to become!
The answer that Jesus later gave to a lawyer (v.37) sums up what we are to render to God, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” Do we? We must all answer this question – and surely heartfelt ‘thanksgiving’ should be included in our offering.
“The same day Sadducees came” with a question about the outcome of the resurrection, for they did not believe in it. Moses law says that “If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up children” [v.24] they claim that one childless woman was married in succession of 7 brothers as a result of being widowed. They ask “In the resurrection therefore … whose wife will she be?” [v.28]
Jesus tells them, “… you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” [v.29,30] The crowd “are astonished at his teaching” [v.33] and so are we – perhaps astounded is a better word – our minds cannot grasp the kind of life that is to come for the redeemed. Paul expresses it well for us, in quoting “… no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those that love him.” [1 Cor. 2 v.9] These words are not a precise quotation, but look and meditate on Isaiah 64 v.4 and Psalm 31 v.9. We ignore the fiction that angels have wings – but we meditate that being made “like angels in heaven” leads, as Paul says, to a life far beyond our imagination.