Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, saying, ‘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. There were seven brothers; the first married and, when he died, left no children; and the second married her and died, leaving no children; and the third likewise; none of the seven left children. Last of all the woman herself died. In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had married her.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And 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”? He is God not of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.’
On September 13th 1982, Princess Grace of Monaco was killed in a car crash. The accident captured the attention of the world with 100 million people watching the funeral. Grace Kelly had become something so magical, enigmatic, and perfect, that people could not believe that she was anything other than angelic; goddess like. Public perception and reaction was similar to that after the death of Princess Diana in 1997 when a nation mourned for the angelic figure that had ascended to glory. When words fail, music fills the void as illustrated in Elton John’s ballad, “Candle in the Wind”.
When human beings in their millions try to come to terms with the loss of a beloved public icon it is not unnatural for them to imagine that, in some way, they have become angelic. In reality although there is nothing in the Bible to support this view.
The Sadducees were a small but prominent, wealthy Jewish sect, who did not believe in resurrection, angels or spirits, unlike their Pharisaic counterparts. (Acts.23:8). Their intention was to demonstrate the absurdity of the resurrection, assuming that in resurrection life human relationships will continue unchanged, as they are in this present life; a concept denounced by Jesus in his retort that in resurrection life there will be no marriage; on the contrary, men and women will be like angels.
The illogicality of the Sadducean question was that they failed to appreciate that the Old Testament did, in fact, teach the resurrection and that God has the ability to accomplish it. God’s original intention in creating humankind, a perfect unity of body and soul, was to ensure that future resurrection allowed the Abrahamic covenant to be fully restored in fellowship and blessing with Him.
Loving Father, thank you so much that we can look to the future with peace and confidence. We place ourselves in your hands and trust you for all that is to come. Amen .
Rev’d Ian Gow, Minister, Eltham United Reformed Church.