Some Sadducees came up. This is the Jewish party that denies any possibility of resurrection. They asked, "Teacher, Moses wrote us that if a man dies and leaves a wife but no child, his brother is obligated to take the widow to wife and get her with child. Well, there once were seven brothers. The first took a wife. He died childless. The second married her and died, then the third, and eventually all seven had their turn, but no child. After all that, the wife died. That wife, now—in the resurrection whose wife is she? All seven married her."
Jesus said, "Marriage is a major preoccupation here, but not there. Those who are included in the resurrection of the dead will no longer be concerned with marriage nor, of course, with death. They will have better things to think about, if you can believe it. All ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God. Even Moses exclaimed about resurrection at the burning bush, saying, 'God: God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob!' God isn't the God of dead men, but of the living. To him all are alive."
Some of the religion scholars said, "Teacher, that's a great answer!" For a while, anyway, no one dared put questions to him.
Once again, I’m struck by Jesus’ ability to handle difficult questions and interactions. The Sadducees who, don’t believe in resurrection, ask a question about the resurrection. I probably would have said something like, “You guys don’t believe any of this, why are you asking about it?” But not Jesus. He gives them an answer that shifts their perspective.
I think that’s what strikes me as as much as anything in this passage is the perspective shift that Jesus pulls on the Sadducees. Honestly, it makes me wonder where my perspective is most of the time. The Sadducees were wanting to debate the finer points of religion, they sort of wanted to argue about how many angels fit on the head of a pin. Jesus was not going to bite. It’s not about the details, the minutia, the “what-ifs.” He pointed them to the deeper, the truer, the more beautiful perspective of life.
You see, resurrection for Jesus is about life. He quotes Moses at the burning bush (side note: this was because the Sadducees only held that the first five books of the Bible were authoritative) to show that God’s perspective is that the patriarchs were living. In effect Jesus is saying, “Don’t get caught up in all these ‘what-ifs’ of religious dogma. Ask yourselves if you’re living.”
So many of us get caught up in the “what-ifs” and miss out on living. I think if we grasped the depths and ramifications of resurrection that we would be more free to go and live. It is as if we think God is more worried about our right thinking than he is with our right living. Sure, we should learn and try to believe rightly, but if that doesn’t translate into right living then the belief is meaningless.
I love reading and thinking. I meet God in those ways. But, if I’m really honest with myself it’s the times that I have been outside of my office and away from a desk living life with my community that I have experienced the love of God in true intimacy.
Does your perspective need to shift? I know mine often does.
As the great theologian, Andy Dufresne said, “It comes down to a simple choice. Get busy living or get busy dying.”
I don’t know about you, but I want to live that resurrection life. It’s time to get busy living.