Read: Mark 12:18-27
Let’s play Stump the Rabbi. Here we see a fictitious scenario dreamed up by some of the Sadducees for the true purpose of tripping up Jesus.
John Mark begins by reminding us that the Sadducees are a group that don’t believe in the resurrection, so we get the sense that their perspective is at least biased against Jesus’ teaching. The story they concoct involves a seven brothers who each marry one woman then die. Eventually, the woman dies.
At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?” Mark 12:23
My first thought is the Sadducees are trying to gain support for their notion that there is no resurrection. The number of brothers, and therefore husbands, is not relevant to the answer, except to say that seven is chosen for its significance as a complete number. Obviously, even a second marriage to the widow would fit the question — if this entire discussion was really about marriage!
Marriage at the Resurrection
The Sadducees inadvertently ask a question that points to a modern day conundrum: What does marriage look like in heaven?
When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. Mark 12:25
Honestly, that doesn’t provide a lot of answers for me. While Jesus know what angels in heaven look like, I’m a bit shaky on the idea! What I do get from the discussion is that their is, in fact, a life in eternity that is guaranteed beyond this mortal trial of existence, that there is more. The whole scenario has little to do with marriage, so Jesus move onto the point of their actual debate.
Christianity offers a hope like no other, the promise of a resurrected life.
This is the source of great confusion, much controversy, and yet, ultimately one of the key distinctives which define Christ followers. We believe in the resurrection. I think it’s safe to say we don’t believe that the resurrected life is some sort of eternal existence as a continuation of our current mortal state. Beyond that, we have clues in scripture, but it seems to me, we don’t really know what it looks like.
That does not change the assertion that there is a resurrection.
Jesus points the Sadducees back to the Pentateuch that they use as the basis for their home-brewed religion. In typical form, He puts the question back in their court:
Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? Mark 12:26
The concept of “I am” is pretty clear, even if it’s difficult to understand: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all exist in eternity at the same time; i.e., something happens after death. Jesus has taught on several occasions, at this point, that there is a resurrection. Here He makes it clear as He sends the Sadducees away shaking their heads.
Historically, the Sadducees sect did not survive very long, kinda like their misplaced theology.
The key takeaway for me this morning: check your theology at the door and listen to what God has to say for us in His word, the inspired brief writings we call the Bible. It’s incredible that He would give us this gift. I pray that we will all learn one grain of sand more until the day we have a beach full of knowledge and wisdom. Until that day, I’ll take a grain.