Life in the Future World
(Matthew 22.23-33; Mark 12.18-27)
27 The Sadducees did not believe that people would rise to life after death. So some of them came to Jesus 28 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.
29There were once seven brothers. The first one married, but died without having any children. 30The second one married his brother's widow, and he also died without having any children. 31The same thing happened to the third one. Finally, all seven brothers married this woman and died without having any children. 32At last the woman died. 33When God raises people from death, whose wife will this woman be? All seven brothers had married her.
The people in this world get married. 35But in the future world no one who is worthy to rise from death will either marry 36or die. They will be like the angels and will be God's children, because they have been raised to life.
37 In the story about the burning bush, Moses clearly shows that people will live again. He said, “The Lord is the God worshiped by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” 38So the Lord isn't the God of the dead, but of the living. This means that everyone is alive as far as God is concerned.
39Some of the teachers of the Law of Moses said, “Teacher, you have given a good answer!” 40From then on, no one dared to ask Jesus any questions.
Popular culture offers various views of what may happen to our spirits after we die. Many are entertaining even to the comical point of a cartoon-like image of the dearly departed floating upward to settle on a cloud with cherubs playing harps.
The Sadducees didn’t believe that people would rise to any new life. So in this exchange they tried to manipulate Jesus so he would paint himself into a corner with his own teaching. For their own gain, they subtly suggested that Jesus’ teachings didn’t hold water.
Jesus responded plainly that they were flat wrong, that there will be no marriage in eternity because our heavenly bodies will be more like those of the angels, not necessarily with any cartoonish wings, but rather without any earthly need for sex and procreation.
In this, Jesus was making two things clear. First, he affirmed the idea of a bodily resurrection, that ‘God is the God of the living, not the dead,’ an Old Testament verse that was well-known by these scholars. Also, Jesus affirmed his ability to see into eternity.
The religious scholars of that day were highly-respected community leaders because they had studied the Mosaic Law at length, often their entire lives, to reach a certain level of expertise. This education gave them prominent positions in law, government and education. But no amount of studying would enable them to see beyond the grave. In this exchange Jesus implied that he could.
For some of those scholars, it was one more reason to hate Jesus, to want him out of the way once and for all. For us, it’s one more reason to consider Jesus’ divinity, that he was more than a moral teacher; that his teachings, in fact, were informed by both formal studies as well as divine position.
Loving heavenly Father: Only you know what you have in store for those who are faithful to you. Thank you for giving us even a glimpse, through Jesus, that eternity will be far more than what my tongue can tell, what my eyes can see, what my fallen mind can ever imagine