Here in the gospel of Luke this dialogue between Jesus and the Sadducees, in which we are familiar from the other Synoptic Gospels, lingers here as-well. Resurrection is the central topic of this “trap” that the Sadducees are attempting to set for Jesus. For the Sadducees their continual battle here is in the attempt to discredit the resurrection. Thus, this challenge is a reference to the law given to us in Deuteronomy dealing with when a woman becomes widowed, she then marries her brother-in-law. Also, children are the original way Israelites held that they lived on after death. The Sadducees craft this preposterous tale of a woman being widowed seven times and then still dying childless. Yet as it happens their attempt at a mic-drop situation before Jesus the Christ falls flat.
This narrative has much to say to our western minds. What is the resurrection? How will it work? Who will I live with? To which husband will my contract of marriage persist?
I no doubt understand why this conversation ultimately perks our ears. We all want some answers about resurrection. When I was 17 my grandfather passed away leaving my grandmother behind after decades of life together. Yet, after a several years she found new love, married, and then they lived together for ten more years. Just last summer he also passed away. Now almost 80 years old and in the last season of her life there is no doubt that these are questions that burn in her heart. These are the tangible hurts of our congregations that resurrection above all else is “supposed” to alleviate, not bring confusion to. Yet, the more we wrestle with the Sadducees’ question (with our dualistic thinking) only the more frustrated we will become.
It is no coincidence that Jesus tells us that all the law and prophets are summed up in loving the Lord our God with everything we are and have! It was never about the law, it’s always been about the love! In the resurrection we step from a dimly lit space into a fully lit arena where love is completely and totally embodied in perfection. To know what this is like becomes something we cannot fully understand. Yet the more energy we excerpt in attempting to squish resurrection into our dualistic minds the more we will likely suffer. Some have even said that sin itself is dualism entering the world. That the more we project our dualism into and onto eternity the more we will miss what this whole life and resurrection is all about! Jesus said, “Now He is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to Him all of them are alive.” How we know so little about the mystery of the love of God and the eternal life that we already have. Perhaps the greatest comfort for us is the expanse that is our faithful loving God and how His ways are still so mysterious to us.