Holy Week - Day 4
27 Then Jesus was approached by some Sadducees—religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead. 28 They posed this question: “Teacher, Moses gave us a law that if a man dies, leaving a wife but no children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name. 29 Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children. 30 So the second brother married the widow, but he also died. 31 Then the third brother married her. This continued with all seven of them, who died without children. 32 Finally, the woman also died. 33 So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her!”
34 Jesus replied, “Marriage is for people here on earth. 35 But in the age to come, those worthy of being raised from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage. 36 And they will never die again. In this respect they will be like angels. They are children of God and children of the resurrection.
37 “But now, as to whether the dead will be raised—even Moses proved this when he wrote about the burning bush. Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, he referred to the Lord as ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 So he is the God of the living, not the dead, for they are all alive to him.”
39 “Well said, Teacher!” remarked some of the teachers of religious law who were standing there. 40 And then no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Not of This World
Skepticism and disbelief in the resurrection is not just something that exists in the 21st century. Long before the Enlightenment, postmodernity, atheist message boards or talk show rhetoric, there were the Sadducees.
They were the political and religious bullies of the ancient world that didn’t believe in bodily resurrection and the existence of angels. They generally regarded anything outside of the first five books of the Jewish law and the natural world as unreasonable.
In Luke 20:27-40, the Sadducees put an odd question before Jesus. They asked him who would be considered the husband in heaven of a woman who was married to seven different men on earth. They wanted to know, in the event of resurrection, which one of these seven guys would actually be this woman’s spouse. It was a strange conversation starter with a motive.
They knew Jesus couldn’t say that the woman would be the wife of all seven men at the same time. That would be a ridiculous notion. But that is precisely what they were after. They wanted to prove, through their unlikely scenario, that it is ridiculous to believe in resurrection as well.
Jesus’ comes back strong in his answer and essentially says to the Sadducees that they don’t understand the power of God or the Scriptures. He reveals to them the mistake of comparing the things of this world to the things of heaven. He said in verses 34-36:
“Marriage is for people here on earth. But in the age to come, those worthy of being raised from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage. And they will never die again. In this respect they will be like angels. They are children of God and children of the resurrection.
Marriage is something of this world. It is ordained by God on earth, but in heaven, it is not an enduring part of his eternal purpose. Jesus is saying that it is not legitimate to place earthly conditions on the things in heaven. Therefore, it is not valid to put human limitations on God’s power in resurrection.
Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he told Martha in John 11:25:
“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
As we approach Easter, we are confronted with the same question posed to Martha and are reminded of the power of God that raised Jesus from the dead. That kind of power is not of this world. It is a miracle beyond compare. It is supernatural, eternal and cannot be reasoned away or stopped by earthly things.