Good Morning!Hope you had a great Labor Day –
Mark 12:18- 12:27
18Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, saying, 19“Teacher, Moses wrote for us that ‘if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no child, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother.’ 20There were seven brothers; the first married and, when he died, left no children; 21and the second married her and died, leaving no children; and the third likewise; 22none of the seven left children. Last of all the woman herself died. 23In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had married her.”
24Jesus said to them, “Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? 25For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the story about the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27He is God not of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.”
Jesus’ enemies are an odd coalition – the Pharisees and Sadducees were generally enemies, and arguing with one another. The Sadducees were actually the “old-school traditionalists” of the day. They accepted only the Torah, or what was called the books of Moses, as authoritative scripture (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Numbers). Since the idea of resurrection is not discussed in those books, they rejected the idea (also angels, and the promise of a coming Messiah). They were, however, powerful politically, being wealthy, and were the priestly class in Jerusalem.
The question they put to Jesus is a classic argument between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The law says if a man dies childless leaving a widow, his brother must marry his widow and have sons for him. This, of course, has to do with property rights; the intent in the early distribution of land in the Promised Land was that the land would remain with the family through the generations, thus a man needed an heir to inherit. (The feelings of the widow were not even a consideration!) The Sadducees present an absurd situation in which a widow is passed from one brother to the next, and by her death has been married to 7 brothers. Who then, they ask, will be her husband in the resurrection?
But Jesus responds that they don’t know what they are talking about! There will be no marrying or giving in marriage in the resurrection, for those who rise are like the angels in heaven. And then he goes on, to argue from the scripture they do hold sacred – in Exodus 3, when God speaks to Moses, he says he is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He does not say he was their God, but he is their God. Jesus says, God is not the God of the dead, but of the living; therefore, those of whom he speaks are living. Those who have brought the argument are quite wrong.
Jesus bests the best arguments his enemies can bring against him – in verse 38, he will tell his listeners to beware of the scribes. But, in the meanwhile, the debate continues, there in the temple courts during the last week of Jesus’ life.