A Bride for Seven Brothers!
And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”
Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.” Mark 12:18-27
First, you need to understand that the Sadducees don’t believe in the resurrection of the dead. It’s another trap! They arrive with a hypothetical question about resurrection built upon the Mosaic law about property and legacy. In ancient patriarchal societies, it was important for the name and property of a dead man to be carried on through his progeny. If he dies childless, his legacy is lost. If the dead man has a brother, he has to provide the family seed; then all would be well as the child of that union would be considered the dead brother’s child, thus inheriting his property and carrying his name. (See Deuteronomy 25:5-10) Thus, a dead man lives in perpetuity.
Now back to the Sadducees’ question. The poor woman is passed through six of her deceased husband’s brothers without ever having a child, and then she dies. The Sadducees want to know from Jesus whose wife she will be at the resurrection. He confronts these “experts” on the Pentateuch, telling them they do not know their scriptures. OUCH! Jesus’ second punch tells them they do not understand the will of God. Double-OUCH!
What comes next is Jesus commenting with certainty on the resurrection of the dead. We will all be raised with resurrection bodies, both physical and spiritual. But the former status of this side of the resurrection will not matter in the presence of the Divine. Sadducees, you’re wrong! Triple-OUCH!
Friends, we must always be careful about our certainties pertaining to scripture and the mind games we play to rationalize confusing passages. Ultimately, the Great Teacher will school you!
Teach us humbleness when we approach your scriptures. They say a lot about your divine presence and our pathetic attempts to fully comprehend you because a totally knowable God is no God at all.
I pray in the name of the Teacher. Amen!