41 – The Resurrection
And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”
Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”
- Sadducees: A group of religious Jews
- Offspring: Children
- Scriptures: The Word of God recorded by men
What have the Sadducees not understood?
What does Jesus mean when he says that God is not the God of the dead but the God of the living?
Another group now come to try to trick Jesus. The Sadducees didn’t believe that God was going to bring his people back to life someday, and therefore they come with a riddle to see if Jesus is able to solve it. They hope to show that the idea of rising from the dead is nonsense.
The arrangement at the time was that if a man died without having children, his brother or a near relation would take the wife in order for him to have heirs. Therefore, the Sadducees imagine a situation where a man with seven brothers marries and dies before having children. A brother of the man takes the woman to be his wife, but he also dies before having children. The same thing happens until all the brothers have died and then, the woman herself dies. Of course, this situation is unlikely to happen. But the Sadducees’ question is, if this were to happen, whose wife would she be in the resurrection?
Jesus gives two answers to them. Firstly, he deals with the riddle. The question doesn’t make sense because they have not understood what the law says. Marriage is an agreement between a husband and a wife which is broken when one of them dies – this has to be true as anyone remarrying would be committing adultery. Marriage does not extend beyond the grave, and therefore in the resurrection this type of relationship will not exist, exactly like the angels.
But Jesus doesn’t leave the matter there. He wants them to realise not only that their riddle does not pose a problem, but that the resurrection is real. He reminds them of the words of God to Moses, when he said, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Although these men have been dead for centuries, he is still their God now! There is no need for believers to fear death because they have the certainty of everlasting life with God. Jesus wants people to realise that death is not the end of the story, and they need to understand that God will raise everyone from the dead someday, in order to give account to him for the way they have lived.
How does believing in the resurrection help to us from day to day?
Very often Jesus’s response to the religious leaders is that they do not understand the Scriptures. What should our response be when we hear this?
that God will give enable you to understand the meaning of the Bible correctly.