The Question about the Resurrection
Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus 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.’ Then some of the scribes answered, ‘Teacher, you have spoken well.’ For they no longer dared to ask him another question.
We live in a sceptical world, a world in which so many people live by the creed: seeing is believing. Such people are arrogant enough to believe that unless they see something with their own eyes they cannot possibly accept its validity. Sadly, this human-centric attitude leads many to doubt the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Such people play word and mind games in support of their science-based and faith-denying ‘winning arguments’. This level of scepticism is seen in the words of the Sadducees who gather around Jesus at the beginning of today’s reading. The Sadducees … those who say there is no resurrection … were so confident in their own knowledge and wisdom that they felt emboldened and empowered to challenge Jesus on that which was soon to follow his betrayal and humiliating death.
Since the time of his resurrection many have questioned that which they perceive to be ‘impossible’. In 1984 this debate gained renewed momentum when the newly-appointed Bishop of Durham made a public declaration on national television. One of the most senior bishops in the Church of England said that the resurrection was not a single event, but a series of experiences that gradually convinced people that Jesus’ life, power, purpose and personality were actually continuing – he denied the reality of the resurrection!! The bishop joined the Sadducees in creating an alternative reality contrary to that which lies at the heart of our faith.
Faith is, of course, the issue we are being invited to reflect upon today. Jesus, not long before his execution, says that God is God not of the dead, but of the living. God came to earth in the form of his Son Jesus Christ in order that he might renew his covenant with humanity. Through his death and resurrection human beings were being offered, through faith, the reconciliation, new life and eternal joy that comes through the generosity, grace and love of God.
Let us pray that we might be given the courage and the strength to live a life of true faith. God invites us to believe in his love, his mercy and his unimaginable power. Let us set aside our trust in the transience of human wisdom and power, and turn to the God who exceeds our puny minds and imaginations.