Situation 3: In Heaven, to Whom Will We Be Married?
(Matthew 22:23-33, Mark 12:18-27)
Who questioned him: Sadducees (those who didn’t believe in a resurrection from the dead)
What they asked: If a woman has been married to more than one man (having lost prior husbands to death), whose wife will she be after the resurrection?
Why this is significant: If the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection, this question is pointless at the surface . They were using this question at the very least to spark debate with the Pharisees, the religious leaders who did believe in the resurrection.
Jesus’ response: He pointedly answered that in the resurrection, there would be no marriage between believers (other Scripture tells us that earthly marriage is only a picture of the perfect, eternal marriage between Jesus – the groom – and his Church – his bride). He then went a step further and pointed to Scripture that says there is, in fact, a resurrection because even after Abraham died, God said, “I AM” the God of Abraham (not “I WAS” the God of Abraham), which indicated that Abraham is living, even though his body died.
What We Can Learn from Jesus’ Response:
Contrasted with the prior situations, the Scripture does not indicate that the Sadducees were looking to trap Jesus. They very well could have been, but it seems that at the surface, their question was created to spark debate with the Pharisees.
But think about it. If they didn’t believe there was life after death, where was hope? Surely, even after clinging so stringently to their ideas, in the deepest recesses of their hearts they were looking for hope.
This is complete conjecture on my part, but I believe Jesus saw the desire for hope – if not from all the Sadducees then from many in his presence – and he took the opportunity to set the record straight on this very serious subject. He made it clear to everyone in earshot that there IS a physical, bodily resurrection after death.
And he didn’t make this clear by his own intellectual prowess like he did with the question on taxes.
He did it by quoting the very Scripture that the Sadducees and Pharisees claimed to believe.
The Power of Scripture
Let’s not forget the power of Scripture here. Matthew 22:33 says, “And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.” The crowd here included both people who knew Scripture and people who didn’t know it as well. Yet even the latter saw the truth in Jesus’ answer. In the same way, we as Christians cannot forget the power of Scripture in answering others’ questions and challenges. We must be diligent in intellectually learning the Scripture so that the Holy Spirit can bring it to mind in these situations, to do a mighty work in those who are seeking.
The Seeker’s Heart
Jesus was able to see past the machine-gun-like fire of questions by people trying to trap him, to take the opportunity to see into the deepest needs of the people. They desired hope in this life after death, and he showed how their very own Scripture gave them that hope.
In the same way, we need to resist the temptation to look at a question or challenge on its surface level. Some of those challenges may seem downright combative. But if we dig a little deeper, we can see if the motive is a deep searching on behalf of the person or group. All humanity is created with a spirit that seeks God. The problem is, we don’t always know it is God who fills those longings. We search to be filled by a myriad of other things in this world, only to be left empty.
The Sadducees and the crowd present were still seeking, and Jesus met them in their need. Now, it was up to them to accept truth and claim for their own the hope that Jesus offered.