Ever After

The Sadducees did not believe that people would rise to life after death. So that same day some of the Sadducees came to Jesus and said:

Teacher, Moses wrote that if a married man dies and has no children, his brother should marry the widow. Their first son would then be thought of as the son of the dead brother.

Once there were seven brothers who lived here. The first one married, but died without having any children. So his wife was left to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brothers and finally to all seven of them. At last the woman died. When God raises people from death, whose wife will this woman be? She had been married to all seven brothers.

Jesus answered:

You are completely wrong! You don’t know what the Scriptures teach. And you don’t know anything about the power of God. When God raises people to life, they won’t marry. They will be like the angels in heaven. And as for people being raised to life, God was speaking to you when he said, “I am the God worshiped by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” He isn’t the God of the dead, but of the living.

The crowds were surprised to hear what Jesus was teaching. (Matthew 22:23-33)

The Sadducees were the fundamentalists of their day. They were a sect of Judaism—think denomination—that was extremely strict and very conservative. They believed only the first five books of the Bible, Genesis through Deuteronomy, were scripture. Since they didn’t accept the authority of any of the prophets or other Old Testament writings, they rejected the resurrection, demons and angels. They thought Pharisees were trying to add dangerous innovations and silly speculation to God’s true word.

Jesus worked with people just as he found them. When Jesus solved the theological riddle that the Sadducees brought him, he did not challenge them from philosophy or from the books of the Bible that they did not believe in. Instead, he took them to the parts of scripture that they acknowledged were authoritative. He demonstrated that the concept of resurrection could be seen even in Genesis. They had missed what should have been obvious. After establishing that their truncated Bible taught the reality of an afterlife, he then challenged the presupposition underlying their riddle. Their assumption that life post-resurrection would be just like life was before the resurrection was also mistaken. Their vision, their imagination, their assumptions, Jesus pointed out, were too small. That’s why he told them they were not just wrong, but completely wrong.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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