Continuing our simple Sunday reflections in the Gospel of Mark. This week Jesus’ dialogue with the Sadducees about marriage at the resurrection.
The atmosphere of conflict in Jerusalem continues to intensify with a further attempt to discredit Jesus, this time by the Sadducees with a contrived hypothetical scenario of one woman marrying 7 brothers (possibly taken from a similiar story in the book of Tobit). Their point is that the Mosaic law has been literally fulfilled, their implication that the idea of resurrection is thus proved absurd.
Jesus responds in a stunning way.
Quoting from the Sadducee’s accepted Scriptures, the Pentateuch, Jesus takes Exodus 3:6 to show how the resurrection fulfils God’s covenant promises to his people. He is the redeeming God of the living Patriarchs. The context in Exodus is God’s saving action and covenant faithfulness to his chosen people.
Jesus’ astonishing point is that God saving action continues to be worked out. Far from the resurrection being a nonsense, it is the climax and completion of God’s redemptive action in the world. If death is the last word for the Patriarchs, God has not kept his promises and is shown to be powerless and the Scriptures are unfulfilled.
But the story of the Scriptures ends in glorious resurrection and depends on the mighty power of God. The Sadducees were ‘badly mistaken’ – utterly wrong – because they rejected both.
Here is hope! The completion of God’s saving purposes that will result in renewed creation. It does not rest in us or our plans or achievements. It rests in the power of God to fulfil his promises and complete his story.
Marriage at the Resurrection
18 Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 19 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 20 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. 21 The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. 22 In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. 23 At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”
24 Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? 25 When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 26 Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”