Confining God

Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection,
came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying,
“Teacher, Moses wrote for us,
If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child,
his brother must take the wife
and raise up descendants for his brother.

Now there were seven brothers;
the first married a woman but died childless.
Then the second and the third married her,
and likewise all the seven died childless.
Finally the woman also died.
Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?
For all seven had been married to her.”
Jesus said to them,
“The children of this age marry and remarry;
but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age
and to the resurrection of the dead
neither marry nor are given in marriage.
They can no longer die,
for they are like angels;
and they are the children of God
because they are the ones who will rise.
That the dead will rise
even Moses made known in the passage about the bush,
when he called ‘Lord’
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;
and he is not God of the dead, but of the living,
for to him all are alive.”
Some of the scribes said in reply,
“Teacher, you have answered well.”
And they no longer dared to ask him anything.
(Luke 20:27-40)

Scripture Study

20:28 his brother must take the wife A custom called levirate marriage (see Deut 25:5–10). The Sadducees’ hypothetical question applies this law to an absurd situation, apparently seeking to ridicule belief in a future resurrection of the dead and perhaps to mock Jesus.

20:34 this age The present age, before final judgment.

20:35 the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead Refers to the age that will follow final judgment—when God’s enemies are defeated and His kingdom is fully established (compare Rev 20–21).

20:36 They can no longer die They will be immortal. Jesus suggests that marriage is appropriate only for the period leading up to resurrection and immortality.

20:37 even Moses made known Since the Sadducees appeal to Moses in Luke 20:28, Jesus does the same to correct their faulty understanding of resurrection. in the passage about the bush Refers to God’s appearance to Moses in the burning bush (Exod 3:1–6).

20:38 He is not God of the dead Jesus points out that, although Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are dead, God describes His relationship with them using the present tense (Exod 3:6). This ongoing relationship must mean that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob experience life with God after their death—thus proving the truth of resurrection.

20:39 some of the scribes Although these legal experts were among those plotting against Jesus (Luke 19:47–20:1), some who believed in resurrection found themselves impressed by His answer to the Sadducees.

Scripture Reflection

Before answering the difficulty proposed by the Sadducees, Jesus wants to identify the true source of the problem, the human tendency to confine the greatness of God inside a human framework through excessive reliance on reason, not giving due weight to divine Revelation and the power of God.

We can have difficulty with the truths of faith, this should not surprise us for these truths are above human reason, as noted in the Old Testament passage from the Book of Isaiah, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord” Is 55:8. We need to approach Sacred Scripture, and, in general, the things of God, with the humility which faith demands.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

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