Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus 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.”
Reflection on a rather strange conversation in Luke 20!
Sometimes we have to hold our hands up and admit we are out of our depth – I find the discussion with the Sadducees very difficult to make sense of; the glory of God’s promises is beyond our language and ability to describe. And I suspect there is a modern concern about whether we are (or aren’t) properly reunited with a loved one, possibly even which one for those who have been married twice, so it is important.
The question as put by the Sadducees is designed to trap Jesus; it is not an honest question, they do not even believe in Resurrection!
There is a children’s story about dragon-fly nymphs which discuss life as they live in the pond and they see their friends “die” as they become a chrysalis. They do wonder what happens, and they promise to try and come back and tell each other if indeed there is anything to tell. But when the next nymph, having been constrained in its chrysalis, bursts out as a fully-formed dragonfly, while it can see the nymphs in the water below, it cannot get to them – its world is the air, flying, sunlight etc, something the nymphs had no real idea about at all, at best a hazy sense that there was something beyond but something they could not be part of. From the waterborne existence they “die” and find a whole new world, which involves flying and so much more space etc.
It is only a children’s story but it does help us make sense of Paul’s saying that “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him”.
The risen Jesus was both recognisable and different, real, yet not bound by time and space. We begin to glimpse in the risen Jesus both continuity and transformation. As the funeral prayer puts it, that “Christ will change our frail body that it may be like his glorious body”.
The Resurrection of the Body, which the Sadducees could not accept, is the promise of continuation with transformation, of God bring all that is good to its fullest fruition, of a new birth into a new hope,
If we believe in a loving and good God, the Almighty, the Creator, and in the Resurrection and the gift of eternal life through Jesus, new life for us, then we can leave the detail in his hands. If we have wonderful parents we could trust we would get great presents at Christmas. How much more can we trust the gifts God will give to us, his children.
Revd Peter Reiss