27 Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him 28 and asked him a question, "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; 30 then the second 31 and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. 32 Finally the woman also died. 33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her." 34 Jesus said to them, "Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; 35 but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 36 Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. 37 And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. 38 Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive."
“Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive."
· The Gospel reading today can be a bit confusing since the sort of marriage tradition mentioned is no longer common and the group that asks the question no longer exists.
· The Sadducees were a religions group within the Jewish culture of Jesus’ time. They included most of the Temple authorities and they differed from the Pharisees in that they did not believe in a resurrection.
· Their question was an attempt to trip up Jesus by posing the absurd situation where a woman died childless after marrying each of seven brothers. The custom, called “Levirate Marriage”, stated that a widow was to marry her deceased husband’s brother in order to continue the husband’s bloodline. It also provided a provider and protector for the wife in a society where women had few or no rights of her own. It also insured inheritance for the deceased man’s family. This custom can still be found in some places in the world.
· The Sadducees posed the question - In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? – not out of concern for any woman but to trip up Jesus on the issue of the resurrection. This is the equivalent of the modern nasty question “Are you still beating your children?” To answer either yes or no puts you in a seriously bad place.
· Jesus neither side-steps the question nor directly answers it. He knows the malice of the questioners and knows they do not understand the concept of resurrection. So he confronts them with Scripture: “Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive."
· God is alive and death does not have the final word. All the Christian scriptures - the Gospels, the Epistles, the Book of Revelation – all point to the resurrection. Our celebration of Easter, where we honour the Resurrection of Christ, celebrates our own participation in that resurrection.
· It’s been said that where Jesus goes, we will follow. Paul writes: For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. (Rom. 6:5-8)
· I can’t begin to tell you what it might be like or when. I don’t know and my guesses are silly; I’ve said I’m holding out for a better body when that the resurrection comes.
· But again Paul wrote: as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9)
· There are a few things we can surmise for ourselves. We know that we are not spirits temporarily given a body, for humans are both body and spirit together. Our bodies are not inferior or just temporary annoyances. That is how God created us and that is how we will be resurrected. After his Resurrection, Jesus was changed and yet he was known to be Jesus. He ate with the apostles, yet he was not hindered by such things as locked doors. He was not simply revived, but resurrected and, like him, all will be changed.
· No matter what we might say or think, we don’t know what is to come… except that such a resurrection is coming. The Sadducees had their agenda and it was a hopeless one. The Good News of Jesus Christ always leads to hope. It also allows us to follow Jesus in this present world with hope, courage, and faith. That faith calls us to give hope to the world and to work for reconciliation and peace, an especially appropriate intention as we find tomorrow as Remembrance Day.
· Our God is the God of the living, for to him all of them are alive. The resurrection of the body our Creeds speak of remains a mystery and a hope. However we are sure that the God who sent his Son for our redemption will not leave us orphaned. Why else would Jesus be raised from the dead? Why else would the Spirit be sent to live in the Church? Why else would we be assured that death is not the end? Death is NOT the end and our God is the God of the living.
… the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive."