URC Daily Devotion Saturday, 9 March 2024

Saturday, 9 March 2024
St Mark 12: 18 – 27

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.’


I recall a Scottish College seminar on the updating of family law, led by one of the legal team responsible for putting revised provisions before the Scottish Parliament. I hadn’t given much thought to the increasing complexity of family relationships within society. It was an eye opener. I was impressed with the sensitivity and thoroughness of their approach to this exacting task – expanding well established principles without breaching them.

The Sadducees, aristocratic, priestly politicians of Jesus’ day, were conservative. They worked within the first five books of the Hebrew Bible exclusively, where Levirate law designed to protect widows, could get exceedingly complex. Belief in resurrection could multiply this complexity ridiculously. Jesus’ Sadducee questioners were banking on absurdity to reveal the inadequacy of his teaching. They posed him the ‘seven brothers but whose bride finally?’ question.

Jesus faced the Sadducees’ sarcastic questioning by undermining their presupposition that there is no resurrection of the dead. Firstly he challenged their narrow understanding of Scripture and knowledge of God. Secondly he challenged their assumption that life hereafter mirrors life here on earth. And thirdly he quoted Scripture in which resurrection is a given assumption. The deputation of Sadducees went away ‘tae think again’. 

Our belief in the resurrection of the body in the life hereafter is based on Jesus’ own resurrection. Paul, the apostle, makes this much clear. Belief in our own resurrections isn’t an easy matter, for it’s a matter of faith – which can wax and wane, according to our constancy. The underlying assumptions of our society is that resurrection is a nice idea, but fanciful. However we should take to heart these scripture words

 “No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
    and no mind has imagined
the things that God has prepared
    for those who love him”.


Gracious God
your son has promised 
“all things are possible for the one who has faith”.
With those throughout the centuries
who have opened their hearts to you, I cry 
‘I have faith, help my lack of faith’.
Hold me in your safe embrace,
till the time when I meet all who have
entrusted themselves to your care.  Amen



Today’s writer

The Rev’d John A Young, retired minister of the National Synod of Scotland, member Giffnock URC


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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