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.” [NRSA]
God of the living
There was a certain group of teachers who we more conservative than Pharisees, but not as extreme as the Zealots, held the belief that there is no such thing as resurrection.
It is difficult for us to separate this way of thinking, but this point of view was commonly held by Jewish believers until after the Babylonian exile. It was only when surrounded by other faiths in their time of captivity that some began to believe in resurrections.
The Sadducees were holding on to an older interpretation that had no room for life after death. The common belief was that you lived, died, and lived on in the memory and heritage of your children and children’s children. This is where we see the blessing and curses that continue to the subsequent generations come into play. The Sadducees were so focused that they were not willing to consider God had been misunderstood.
A ridiculous example is put before Jesus about a woman being married seven times and who would here husband be in heaven. Jesus clarifies with an answer that is more important than their question.
Jesus is not entrapped into a political argument. Jesus takes the crowd, the disciples, and the Sadducees and steps back to a more important truth. Here it is: God is God of the living and not the dead.
Does that mean God only cares for those who are living? Again this is the wrong and still unhelpful questions.
- Jesus is teaching that God is eternal.
- Jesus is teaching that those who are in Christ are eternal
- Jesus is teaching the resurrection is real
- Jesus is teaching that resurrection and eternal life have always been God’s nature and intention.
We come to the hallowed Sunday that we specifically remember those who, of our membership, and of our circles of influence, have been confronted with the death, grief, and loss of persons who have died in the past twelve months.
By gather for this purpose we force ourselves and each other to deal with the meaning of life.
- The feeling of loss and grief that these persons from our living.
- We celebrate their experience of eternal life and the fulfillment of their faithful journey in this life.
- Jesus is shifting the focus from the categories in which we identify ourselves in this life, and looking at the larger and more significant gift of eternal life.
Our souls, in Christ, through Christ, because of Christ, are eternal.
We have the advantage to know that when Jesus died he goes to those who had died prior to open heaven to all those who trusted, loved, and lived to follow God’s instructions. Plainly, grace is given to those who had not understood what they were missing.
This reflects several things:
- God is eternally interested in our soul, us as the person, God gives life and breath for us to become.
- God’s perspective of time is not limited by time as we measure it on earth, (Get our your Astrophysics notes and note that time on every planet, that revolves around every star measure time uniquely by each system.
- God is not limited by any solar system and neither by the universe.
- God’s perspective on time is eternal.
When God’s calendar is guided by eternity, there are no days and night, no years and no nanoseconds. It is all a twinkling of an eye.
As for the Sadducees’ questions: Will we know our loved ones in heaven? Who will be responsible for whom? And will marriage be honored in heaven.
Jesus’s implied answers are 1) Yes we will know each other in heaven 2) God is our fulfillment and wholeness, no human relationship can fulfill what God can make whole, and 3) If there is anything like marriage in heaven it is our soul’s union with God’s.
Jesus is saying,
- Yes, I know we are grieving the loss of those who have died, but don’t miss what heaven is about.
- Yes, I know hearts are hurting when we are separated, and they reminds us of God’s relationship with us, while we are in these earthly tents, God is allowing us to be the individuals we are, so that we might choose to be fully with God, being made whole by God, through Christ.
Jesus replies to the teacher by saying: You are thinking about your souls from a worldly point of view. It is more vital, essential, necessary to be looking at your soul from God’s point of view.
- God is longing for us to be united, (through our faith in Christ)
- God is not limited by human relationships, (God will heal and restore us all)
- God is not bound by our understanding, (God is self-revealed in Jesus Christ, that we might find our way to heavenly father through the son who has emptied himself and become one of us, for us, to find God.)
We gather today to grieve together and to encourage those who are feeling lost, alone, broken and separated from those they have loved for a lifetime.
BUT WE ALSO gather today to celebrate the faith that reveals:
- life with God is eternal
- God desire to share eternity with us
- our souls are made whole and complete through Christ, to be in union with God our creator
- Don’t sweat the small stuff, the worldly trappings and limitation when the big stuff, eternal life, is available and is more important.
We gather with the saints, in union with God, through Jesus Christ. This is why we come to the table.
The table where everyone who seeks grace, through repentance, and relying on Christ, we find ourselves whole in God, just as those who have gone before us have already found for eternity.
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