Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him 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. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.” Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; 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. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. 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. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”
Last week, we saw Jesus making his way toward Jerusalem when he met the tax collector, Zacchaeus (remember?) A lot has happened in less than one chapter of the gospel of Luke, including Jesus's entrance into Jerusalem on a colt, otherwise known as the triumphal entry, Jesus stood on a hill overlooking the city and wept over Jerusalem, he entered the temple and drove the animal sacrifice merchants and their animals out of the temple, and made the religious leaders so angry they all want to kill him- or as the text says "they wanted to lay hands on him right then, but were afraid of the people." Why? Because the common people are absolutely spellbound by what Jesus is saying. Despite the grumbling in Jericho when Jesus ate with that sinner Zacchaeus, Jesus has watched as each rival group of religious and political leaders take turns trying to entrap Jesus, and Jesus has, one by one, shut them down. And so the religious leaders are forced to wait until they can manipulate public feeling in their favor. As you know, eventually public feelings do turn, and even the common people will want to see Jesus killed, but for now, the tension builds around Jesus. Today, the Sadducees take their turn at trying to entrap Jesus, and hopefully win the public to their side against him.
Now, we've talked a lot about Pharisees, and even about scribes in the past few weeks, but who are the Sadducees? According to "in the time of Jesus the Sadducees were the upper class folk who only accepted the first five books of the Old Testament, those parts supposedly written by Moses, and in those books resurrection is never mentioned. (They figured), if God had intended people to be resurrected (God) would have told... Moses about it and Moses would have told them. Except Moses didn’t; and that’s why they believed the resurrection was not scriptural and just a fantasy. In fact, those in the elite class probably thought the notion of resurrection was just sour grapes for groups and individuals who hadn’t "made it" like they had. Why did Resurrection believers believed in a resurrection, even though Moses never mentioned it? According to the Sadducees, it was because they were 'still trying to make something out of themselves unlike us Sadducees who had done that already.' ...
Go back to the text- “Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him 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. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.”
So perhaps this paragraph now makes more sense- for the Sadducees, believing "there is no God-empowered resurrection, the only way a man (yes a man, no one cared if the women achieved anything) the only way a man could insure his continued existence was through having children- and if a woman failed to produce the needed children before he died, the brother of the man should help him by marrying the widow and having children for his brother. This... rule had been put into the Book of Exodus—it was a way of achieving a resurrection of sorts through procreation. Since they believed God wasn’t interested in maintaining on-going-ness, they would have to take matters into their own hands and do it through their offspring. The whole thing was driven by the fear of death, the fear of going out of existence: but we'll get back to that in a second." (1)
So when the Sadducees try to stump him, and, btw, this was the question they used to use in order to silence their resurrection believing opponents like the Pharisees, Jesus doesn't hesitate- he says, "“Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; 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. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection.” So marriage, life, etc, is nothing like it is here- God is a God of the living, in God everyone is alive- and he brings up Moses at the burning bush as an example- we God the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob- meaning, God is the God of the living, and that those three are still alive
Jesus is trying to get them to see that we are in one world order right now, one where many of us spend our whole lives avoiding death- some think of it as a dark void of nothingness, some think of it as a court date- our dualistic thinking comes into play, black, white, right, wrong, good, bad, heaven, hell- and based on our lives, we'll be sentenced accordingly- and so we spend our lives working to amass points for ourselves, comparing our lives to others, are we good enough, did we do enough, how can i look better in God's eyes? That kind of thinking can take us to a very dark place- and/or a very self righteous, or self loathing, or self focused place... and so we practice avoidance- we practice escapism, we become obsessed with health, monitor every vital sign, hoping to ward it off one more year- yet each birthday that rolls around, each loved one who passes, reminds us that we are not after all, so successful at our avoidance- so we try to secure things for ourselves. as if any of this belongs to us in the first place- even people, we treat as property, our wives, children- we think we somehow own them or have a right to own or possess them. What Jesus is trying to point out is that though people here craft our whole lives around the fear of death, in "the age to come" meaning after death, all are as important as our wives, husbands, children
And I realize what I'm saying- people don't necessarily want to hear this- we want to be surrounded, when we die by the people closest to us here! And please hear me, I do believe that we will be reunited with loved ones in the afterlife... But I also believe that when we die and open our eyes for the first time we will be in a new understanding of what 'loved one" means... love is love is love- becomes real! ANd we don't feel that need to claim just one or tow or ten souls as "our family' - all do not have the feeling of fear or caution and we will have all the knowledge needed to understand perfectly; all the emotions that we have here, that guide us, right or wrong, will give way to only love.
Think about how that might play out, if we were to actually take Jesus at his word on this? How differently would we live not in fear of death, but knowing that in God, ALL are alive? Would it not increase our joy of living here? Would it not take away any need to be angry, or aggressive , or negative toward one another? What if we read scripture, not as an obstacle to our lives, or something that would keep us on the straight and narrow, but as an opportunity to live the life God has desired for us? To have life, and have it more abundantly? What if we read it through the lens of love, like Jesus did? "And what if, all along, Jesus has been seeing God very differently than we do and trying to get us to see the God he sees? Jesus’ God, his Abba, as he calls him, is incredibly effervescent, to use one of James Alison’s favorite descriptors for God. God is effervescent, irrepressible, vivacious and full of light. The God Jesus sees is full of life and it is a life so contagious that it cannot be contained. It flows over into everything and knowing this, changes the way we think and act, and approach the earthly end of our lives. Resurrection is not a miracle that sometimes happens but rather the normal state of things on account of being full of life because that is who God is. The power and deathlessness of God is almost unimaginable to us. would understand and not be aggressive or negative
and, since God is the God of the living, we don't have to worry about dying- we dont have to build our lives based on fear of death- we can live fully every day
yes- and- we see and hear that promise though the teachings/life of jesus- who puts all other scripture in a different light
or, look at things through the lens of love is love is love- and in God there is no darkness
Jesus is the key to knowing the world and each other and death is a doorway to enlightenment and the greatest gift is yet to come yep Jesus reveals the true nature of God- love
the idea of faith is that one day we will shed the negative and the brutal