Think about those closest to you. Now try to imagine the richest, deepest, most caring, most intimate relationship possible… and thank God that this is the promise that awaits all believers!
The resurrection and marriage
27 Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 28 ‘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. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?’
34 Jesus replied, ‘The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37 But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord “the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”. 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.’
39 Some of the teachers of the law responded, ‘Well said, teacher!’ 40 And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Another attempt to trip Jesus up! The attack comes from the Sadducees, a liberal group of Jews in first-century Judaism who didn’t believe in resurrection (v 27) – so it’s a loaded question. They try to trick Jesus by asking him about an old marriage law (Deuteronomy 25:5) which gave widows a degree of protection from hardship by marrying their deceased husband’s brother.
Jesus’ answer focuses on the resurrection. Marriage is for this age (v 34). In the age to come the closest intimacy believers will experience is with God rather than other people (v 36b)! There will be no need for human marriage. All our needs will be met in God, including companionship of the closest and most fulfilling kind.
Despite what the Sadducees may have thought, resurrection was no new idea. Jesus points them back to Moses and the burning bush (v 37). God is the God of the living – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are all alive. As for marriage in the future, we can look forward to the metaphorical marriage of all believers with Jesus. We, the church, are the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7)!
‘“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” – the things God has prepared for those who love him’ (1 Corinthians 2:9). Dare you believe that today? Praise God for what awaits you in Christ.
Deeper Bible study
‘I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.’1
Today, many believe that death is the absolute end of life. This is not a new idea. The Sadducees rejected resurrection – partly because their canon was limited to the Pentateuch and resurrection hope is found mostly in the later Old Testament writings and Judaism. They also denied messianic expectations and so, until Jesus came to the Temple – their domain – they were not interested in him (hence their infrequent mention in the Gospels). They also held to levirate marriage, whereby a brother of a deceased husband should marry his widow to preserve the inheritance, male descent and support for the widow. This leads to the question they pose to Jesus.
Their query seeks to expose the stupidity of resurrection hope, assuming that marriage continues into the resurrected state. While Jesus’ response confirms the importance of marriage as in his other teaching,2 he effectively rules out marriage after the end of the world. It will not be needed for the continuation of the human line. The resurrected will be eternal beings, like angels, but more – eternal children of God. Arguing from their canon, he affirms the resurrection since God, the God of the living, is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the time of Moses – well after their deaths.3
This passage is both exciting and perplexing. While we are assured that believers will be raised to be with God for ever, it presents a real poser for those like me who live in a love-based marriage. The thought of not doing so saddens me. Yet, whether we are happily married, single, long to marry but cannot, or have found marriage a real challenge, we are comforted that something infinitely better than even the greatest of marriages awaits us – the union of the Lamb and his bride, the church. For this great wedding feast, we press on.4
Pray for the married, the single, divorced and widowed. Pray that those who are now rejecting resurrection hope will find that hope and be saved.
Bible in a year
Read the Bible in a year: Hosea 9,10; Revelation 2
Pray for Scripture Union
This week, all of the Scripture Union prayers relate to this article.
Please pray that churches large and small, urban and rural, will catch the vision of Rooted, and be eager to use it to build strong and lasting relationships with young people in their communities, especially those who aren’t part of any church.