April 14, 2021
Mark 12:18-27 (NIV)
Piney Flats UMC
Three Rivers District
Mark 12:18-27 NIV
Marriage at the Resurrection
18 Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 19 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 20 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. 21 The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. 22 In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. 23 At the resurrection[a] whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”24 Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? 25 When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 26 Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’[b]? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”
And Jesus replied to the smug Sadducees, “You are badly mistaken!” I can guess that running through His mind might be, “C’mon, folks, can’t you do better than that”? He prefaced this comment by questioning if they even comprehended the power of God. He rather pointedly asks if they are not aware that their attempt at a rhetorical trap is not supported by Scripture, despite the public display in which they routinely participate.
The area that Jesus traveled at that time was governed by a theocracy ruled by two major religious sects, Pharisees, and Sadducees. They were fierce competitors, often at odds.
Sadducees were the high priests, wealthy aristocratic families, and merchants. Theologically they refused to accept books of the Hebrew Canon dated after the time of David. In essence they only accepted the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament. They curried favor with the Roman occupation, which helped strengthen their power to dominate the Temple and its priesthood. As defenders of the status quo, they were much disliked by the common people.
Pharisees were not often priests, but lay scholars whose main influence was in their development and preservation of the oral legal tradition. They were rooted in the synagogue and known for pious living (alms, tithing, prayer, and fasting). In contrast to the Sadducees, they accepted Scripture beyond the Torah and promulgated views that included angels, demons, and resurrection of the dead.
So, let’s get back to Jesus responding to this narrow interpretation of Scripture coated with an apparent ignorance of God’s power. The basis of this baiting was centered on the levirate law as described in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. The irony of their query, however, lies in the choice of a word in verse 23, “At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?” Use of the word “resurrection” is intentional. Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection! So, Jesus, how can you answer what seems like a contradiction?
Jesus understands the implications and reverses the equation. He acknowledges that there is resurrection, but its manifestation is beyond all limitations and physical needs of the living. Then he zeroes in with a challenge in verse 26, “… have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?” And finally, I get close to shouting Hallelujah Yah when I read his closing in verse 27: “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” And if you think otherwise, Jesus adds, “You are badly mistaken!”
Oh mighty, loving God, thank you for appearing on earth as Jesus with presence and spirit that forever assure us of your infinite love, not retribution. Allay our doubts and fears with Your truths that we might grow and evolve to the higher level that You have created, without exclusion, within each of us. Amen.