This story appears to be, at least in the first few sentences, a teaching about marriage. It isn’t. It’s about resurrection and whether that life in God has any meaning in the present.
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 any more, 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.’ [from Luke 20]
At the almost-end (please, God) of a presidential election season in the U.S., we are used to debates and hard questions.
A few guys get together to ask Jesus such a question. Maybe it is one they ask of all the traveling rabbis. To them, any answer he gives would shed a bad light on the concept of resurrection (a concept they don’t believe in).
Instead he answers: “Oh puh-leeze.”
That isn’t a direct translation, but a reasonable paraphrase.
You people don’t understand resurrection at all, he says. It’s completely different from what you’ve constructed in your minds. It’s about how we live in the presence of God, both now and beyond death. And honestly, the beyond-death part can’t really be grasped by people on this side of the grave.
God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And yet, both the living and the dead are in God’s presence. Impossible to imagine, but if it’s true: how then shall we live? Thinking theologically is important, but living our faith even more so.
Whether we are making a decision about voting, helping a stranger or friend, eating a meal alone or together, rejoicing or grieving, choosing what we’ll do tomorrow—life happens, right in the presence of God.
Don’t be lured into thinking that eternal life is in the future. It’s happening now.
What will you do with it? What will you do with resurrection?
© 2016, Melissa Bane Sevier