Sunday November 7, 2010, Luke 20: 27-38:
Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him 28and 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. 29Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; 30then the second 31and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. 32Finally the woman also died. 33In 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; 35but 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. 36Indeed they cannot die any more, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. 37And 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. 38Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.’
Ah, yes. Another epic clash between Jesus and his favorite sparing partners, the “religious” folks. Here it is the Sadducees who are convinced of Jesus’ heresy, idolatry, and in this instance, errant belief in resurrection. I won’t pain you with the horrible joke about Sadducees (you can look on my facebook if you want to see it). The joke does, however, illustrate a key difference between the Sadducees and the Pharisees. The Sadducees did not believe in resurrection. period. They didn’t even believe in a spirit resurrection. After you died that was it, dead. This belief arises from the fact that the only books they consider canonical are the first 5 books of the Bible (whoever comes to me Sunday and names those first 5 gets to raid the children’s church candy jar!). Thus, they were very much influenced by Deuteronomical law and rejected belief in angels, demons, any apocalyptic thought expressed in the prophetic books, and Satan (Shayton). The Saducees were also part of a wealthy aristocratic class that many times colaborated with the Roman government – a big no no for sure (see tax collectors).
It is this group that confront Jesus with a question posed as a story meant to mock those who believe in resurrection. Instead of answering the silly question, Jesus suggests that isn’t the point. The point, Jesus says, is that resurrection makes things new. It is not a continuation of “this age.” Thus, if we marry once or 7 times (like the story), it has nothing to do with resurrection.
As you look at the scripture for this Sunday, ponder what you think about resurrection. What does Jesus imply about resurrection? Is that different than what you have always thought?
See you Sunday!