Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to him, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, ‘If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless. Then the second and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her.” Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and remarry; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘Lord’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” (Luke 20: 27-34)
Faith in the resurrection is a mark of spiritual vision. But, lack of faith in the resurrection results in spiritual short-sightedness. The gift of spiritual vision allows the Christian to see tomorrow from today. It further enables him to organize the choices of life in view of the end. What you see ahead determines what choices you make today. Ultimately, what a man sees determines what he lives for. If you see life ahead, you live for it. If you see hope, you live for hope. If you see light, you live for light. If you see darkness, you live for darkness. What you choose to see ahead is what you choose to live. If you see the resurrection, you make provision for it in your life and live for a heavenly goal. In fact, what you see determines how you treat your body and the body of others. In a radical sense, one can say that to deny the resurrection amounts to a fundamental rejection of life itself.
In Jesus’ time the Sadducees were noted for their rejection belief in the resurrection. According to their understanding of faith, the resurrection does not fit into the logic of life. It is vain to believe in a life after death. They are, in Luke’s words, “those who deny that there is a resurrection.” This is not to suggest that they were “bad” people. Even “good” people have their own problems too. The scenario they present to Jesus reveals the sad state of their mind, the blindness of their spiritual eyes, the weakness of their faith, and the superficiality of their hope. Their flawed eschatology leads to a distorted understanding of marriage. If there is no resurrection, why should marriage be taken seriously? In fact, if there is no resurrection, why should life as a whole be taken seriously? What is there to live for? According to the Sadducee understanding, life ends here. If so, the logical conclusion is that here is little, if anything, to live for. In this worldview, women and men can be taken for granted, used and abused. The human body can be treated as an object as one pleases.
The passage under consideration may appear like another one of those encounters people had with Jesus. Every counter with Jesus cannot be taken lightly. This one particular carries a powerful epistemological charge with serious soteriological implications. To deny that there is a resurrection is to logically deny a number of related truths. We have seen a few of them. There is still more. Jesus revealed himself as the resurrection and the life (cf. John 11:25). To deny that there is a resurrection sounds like denying that there is a Jesus. When one denies the resurrection, all other related truths lose their force: the truth about God, about oneself, about the world, about the human body, about marriage, and so forth.
Today, many people still deny that there is a resurrection, explicitly and implicitly. Besides an open denial of the resurrection, as did the Sadducees, there are those who deny the resurrection simply by the choices they make. Some live as if there is no tomorrow. Some live as if there is no day of accountability. Some treat their bodies and the bodies of others as if the body has no dignity beyond the limitations of this life. When men and women live like that they, in effect, reject the logic of the resurrection.
But the truth is that we serve a living God, in who we live, and move, and have our being (cf. Acts 17:28). How we live today prepares us for tomorrow. May our choices and actions be guided by the truth if the resurrection. May we live as people who know there is a “tomorrow.”
Invitation to pray:
Lord Jesus, I believe that you are the resurrection and the life. Help me to live with the resurrection in mind. In you I place my trust. Amen.