Dear Friends in Christ,
In Jesus’ day there were two prominent groups within Jewish society – the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Jesus crossed swords with both of them. Today it is the Sadducees who confront the Lord. The Sadducees were an elite aristocratic group – a kind of club of socially aspirational and religiously conservative men. They rejected most of the Old Testament, accepting only the Pentateuch (the first five books) as divinely inspired. Unlike the Pharisees, they did not believe in the afterlife, the spirit world or the resurrection of the body.
Intent on backing Jesus into a corner, the Sadducees present a bizarre scenario concerning a woman who appears something of a Black Widow, in that she has made her way through seven brothers, each of whom died after marrying her. In line with the law and Jewish culture at this time a woman whose husband died was offered future security by marrying any surviving male siblings. The question is, of course, whose wife will she be after death?
Typically, the Lord refuses to answer the questions head on. He rather points to the fact that marriage is a human institution which comes to an end with death, ‘till death do us part’. That is not to say that those who are married are not reunited after death – surely they are – but they are united in a different way and in a different relationship before God. Beyond the confines of this world there is no need for marriage because both man and wife are joined together in their love and worship of God – in the same was as the angels are.
God is the God of the living, and when we die in Christ, we receive the gift of eternal life and our bodies will rise again. This is the central event and a basic truth of our faith. We look to the resurrection as our greatest hope, assuring us of our eternal destiny: Christ in us the hope of glory.
‘What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown in physical body; it is raised in spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.’