Life to Stand In


Luke 20:27–38 The question about rising from death Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. The second and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. Finally, the woman died too. Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?” Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” https://stpetri.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/20191110_message.mp3

It was hard hearing all those names read out last week at All Saints Day. We remembered those whom we have lost by name and thanked God for them. There were a lot of names. 

I wonder what that does to you – whether you did not really know many of them or most were life-long acquaintances or friends or actual loved close family members.

Today’s words from the Lord will help us. 

We have this strange little conversation between Jesus and a particular group of people in this “heated up” final part of Jesus’ journey to death in the city of Jerusalem. 

Jesus is asked about his belief regarding what happens when we die – whether there is nothing at all after death or whether there is something truly different, totally unlike anything we have ever known this side of death. 

One thing he makes clear in his response: God is God of the living whether they are living or have died!

“God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

But our natural questions about death and life beyond it are with us always. They might be;

  1. Where are our brothers and sister in Christ who have died and what will the resurrection be like?

  2. Is Jesus saying we won’t know our friends and families, or even our partner in life?

  3. Is Jesus’ resurrection the same thing as this belief that we all have an immortal soul that flies off to some place when we die?

Various groups with different beliefs about death and life are all there in the city around Jesus: Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, Zealots and etc . Things are getting to the pointy end. All these groups are very aware of Jesus. They are all trying to figure out if he is friend or foe. Is he good news for the nation or really dangerous! So, the Sadducees group ask their thorny question….

If seven brothers were all married to the same wife in succession because they were keeping the law saying their duty is to marry/take in the wife of a brother who dies to protect her and give her a safer future, and none of these seven brothers have any children with this one wife, at the so called ‘resurrection’ (which we think is just fantasy) whose wife will she be? Won’t this be terribly awkward in this so called ‘heaven’?

Now the big issue that divides the two major groups; Pharisees and Sadducees, is different belief about whether or not there is anything after death for human beings. 

It is not actually a question much to do with marriage. It is all about resurrection. This is not even an honest question seeking new understanding. It is ‘set up’ question aimed to get Jesus to trap himself in words. They need some ammo to get rid of Jesus from their lives.

Sadducees say there is no resurrection from death. For them, only the first five books of the Old Testament are authoritative, and they reckon those books do not mention anything about humans living on after death. Pharisees take the whole Old Testament and believe there to be much about life after death spoken. There is resurrection from death. 

Whose side are you on Jesus? Jesus has already humiliated the Pharisees just prior to this conversation. They tried to trap him with that other tricky question about paying taxes to the hated Romans and their fake god, Caesar. That was good viewing for the Sadducee’s!

Jesus replies mysteriously;

“The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.”

So, plain and simple: There is life beyond death. The Sadducee’s are wrong.