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.
Jesus’ words in today’s reading demand that we set aside our ‘human wisdom’ and embrace the ‘divine wisdom’ that far exceeds our wildest imaginings.
Jesus speaks of the great figures of Jewish history: Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. These figures were, of course, long dead in human terms, but very much alive in God’s nearer presence. Very much alive in a very different reality from that which we believe we fully understand.
At the beginning of our reading, some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection attempt to trick Jesus into saying something that will contradict Jewish law and undermine his own teaching. They try to use ‘human wisdom’, ‘human logic’, to create an unanswerable scenario. But, they fail. That which they concoct as a trap for Jesus is flawed because it tries to impose ‘human wisdom’ on that which is far beyond our understanding.
Time and again we find ourselves confronted with similar arguments and observations. Those who are rooted in the secular bombard us with their attempts to belittle our faith. But … we are called to stand firm, just as Jesus stood firm. We are called to be firm in the truth which we know to be consistent with the teachings of Jesus, even when that truth seems to defy ‘human wisdom’ and ‘human logic’.
We should not be surprised by Jesus’ response to the Sadducees. They did not believe in the resurrection, but Jesus knew exactly what lay ahead. Jesus knew that he would not only conquer death, but that he would bring the reality of the resurrection into the lives (the eternal lives) of all who remained steadfast in the faith.
Let us pray that we might never forget that Jesus defied all ‘human wisdom’. Let us pray that we might never doubt God’s ability to cross all of the boundaries we set for ourselves. Let us pray that, no matter how strong those arguments may seem to be, they are rooted in that which is ‘human’, and they could not be further from the reality of God’s love for each and every one of us … today and every day … until the very end of time, and beyond.